Homemade Citrus-Infused Vinegar for Green Cleaning

Vinegar is one amazing product – I use it all over the house for homemade cleaning products, cooking and even on my hair (apple cider vinegar conditioner)! As much as I love it, the smell does get to me sometimes and I’ve finally gotten around to making my own scented vinegar to take the edge off that strong smell.

Citrus-Infused Vinegar for Homemade Cleaning Products

With orange and clementine season starting here in the US, it’s the perfect time to start making your own orange-infused vinegar! After you eat your orange, save the peel and put it in a jar or other air-tight container and cover the peels with white vinegar. Let it sit for a couple of weeks (don’t need more than two), then strain out the peels and you have orange-scented vinegar! Of course, lemons and limes also work very well for this.

Garbage Disposal Cleaner

After straining the peels from the vinegar, keep those peels. They should be very soft (if not, soak them a few more days). Then, throw them in your garbage disposal and crank it up! The peels, along with the vinegar, make an excellent garbage disposal cleaner because the vinegar kills bacteria-causing odors and the orange peels zap odors.

I love how I can use the entire orange to have a healthy snack, make cleaning products AND clean my garbage disposal. It doesn’t get more eco-friendly than that!


Easy Ways to Use Vinegar for Cleaning

Vinegar is an excellent cleaner – it works on mold, mildew and bacteria. It’s also cheap, readily available, green, eco-friendly (doesn’t harm ground water, lakes, streams, aquatic life), and non-toxic. Here are a few quick and easy ways to use it (there are many more, but these are the ones I use all the time).

  • Window Cleaner – Put in a spray bottle and use it straight up on windows and mirrors. I have used this for a long time and it works just as well as Windex without all the nasty chemicals! I also use it on my glasses.
  • Bathroom Cleaner – Check out my recipes for homemade cleaning products using vinegar.
  • Disinfectant – Put in a spray bottle and spray directly on countertops, cutting boards, toilet seats, the shower, toys and more! It naturally kills germs and bacteria and the best part is, unlike Lysol, you don’t have to wipe it clean or worry about those horrible chemicals getting into your food or babies’ mouths!
  • Drain Cleaner – Pour down stinky, clogged drains, along with baking soda, and the two react to naturally clean gunk and stank nastiness out of your pipes!
  • Laundry Detergent Softener – Pour straight into the detergent softener compartment and fill to the line marked. That’s it! It does not leave a vinegar scent on my clothes and does a nice job of softening.


This post is being shared at:

Tiny Tip Tuesday at Nature’s Nurture
Super Link Party at Earning My Cape
Clever Chicks Blog Hop


About Sara McFall

Sara is the owner and founder of My Merry Messy Life, which started in 2011 as a way to chronicle her journey to a natural, chemical-free lifestyle and to share her passions of mothering, real food, homeschooling and crochet. She is a mama to three precious and energetic little boys and wife to a university professor who loves to sing, dance ballet and ballroom, and live simply and naturally.


  1. Susan Risdal says:

    Love ACV! I keep a bottle in the shower for outbreaks of athlete’s foot…pour it on after the shower and the fungus is gone after a couple days.

  2. This is a great idea! I would think that mint would also be nice. Thanks for the tip!

  3. Awesome post! I am trying to use more natural cleaners and this sounds perfect. I love citrus-scented products so I can’t wait to try this out. Thanks for sharing!

    Visiting from Tiny Tip Tuesday 🙂

  4. I have a HUGE bottle of vinegar that’s just waiting for this! Thanks for sharing all the great uses. I didn’t realize vinegar could disinfect!

  5. Girl, I’ve been meaning to make this FOREVER! I just had an orange this morning and saved the peel because I decided I finally had to start, and then I check my link ups this week and find your post LOL! Ok, so I’m glad you mentioned that you use it in the laundry, because I use regular vinegar in the laundry and just had a reader ask if it was ok to use the citrus-infused one as well, and I had no idea because I hadn’t tried it yet. So thanks for that 🙂

  6. So happy to feature your awesome cleaner at my Super Link Party! 🙂
    Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂
    Oh, and thanks for letting me know about the order on my party. I fixed it. 🙂

  7. Sandie Stone says:

    Thank you for these great tips! Will be definitely be making lots of the home cleaning product, and the hair conditioner, too!

  8. Susan Risdal says:

    I did it and it is fabulous. Perfect in a spray bottle and my kitchen floors look great. I’m going to try it on a corner of the wood floors and see how it works out.

    The combination of citrus and vinegar works wonders on my stove, too.

  9. been wanting to give this a try. do you use the orange infused vinegar for all the uses you listed….glass, laundry etc or straight vinegar ?

  10. Do you use the citrus vinegar in your laundry or only white? I use white vinegar for the rinse but am finally getting around to making citrus this week and was curious. I don’t really miss the extra smells from laundry products, but sometimes the boys’ things come out still a little funky smelling, especially if they sat in the dirty pile too long.

    • Ah, looks like the question’s been asked. Sorry. 🙂

    • Hi Mitzi! Looks like you found your answer. Just in case – I haven’t not used the citrus vinegar in the wash. I don’t think it will cause any problems, but I just haven’t tried it yet. I have found the best way to add scent to the laundry naturally is to follow the ideas I’ve written about in this post – Natural Laundry Softener and Fragrance.

      • My other curiosity is if this works instead of apple cider vinegar for hair rinse… Not that I have trouble with it, but still…orange is yummier. 🙂

        • I’m not sure because I’ve never tried white vinegar on my hair since apple cider vinegar has always worked so well for me. It’s worth a shot, though! I’d love to hear from you to know if it worked well. You could infuse the orange peels in the apple cider vinegar. I think it’d be better, though, to infuse herbs in the ACV instead as I know that would really complement the fragrance.

          • I’ve found some yummy sounding hair rinse recipes and am trying to grow chammomile this year, so may try that in the ACV then. I’ll probably use this mostly for cleaning, anyway.

  11. Hey Sara! I’ve been using some of your products, like your vinegar, your lotion, laundry detergent, and a bunch of others. I just started up a YouTube channel, and I’m uploading a video featuring Citrus-Infused Vinegar, and I mentioned you and stuck a link at the bottom! Thought I oughta let you know.. and I’ll probably be doing some others 🙂 This is fun!

  12. Hi Sara,

    I’m new to (but excited to start) the green cleaning products in my home. I was wondering if you could explain the difference between using apple cider vinegar and white distilled vinegar. I noticed white is in cleaning products and ACV in that hair rinse… are they interchangeable?

    Thanks so much for all your hard work to make this easier for the rest of us!

    • Sure! Apple Cider Vinegar is less acidic (pH of 4) than White Distilled (pH of 2) so White Distilled is a more powerful cleaner, but not good for your skin and hair (apple cider is because it’s closer to neutral pH of 7). Thanks for your nice comments and let me know if you have any more questions!

  13. KellyCupcake says:

    I had the exact same set up! Mason jar full of orange rind vinegar! Mine was a diluted white. You need those plastic lids to keep it in the bathroom or the mason rings rust from the moisture. Beautiful citrus scent wakes you right up when used in the shower for a conditioning rinse. I have a gallon jug of diluted white for the fabric softener cup in the laundry, you can use potent herbs like sachets of basil, rosemary or mint! I love using my herb garden to tame vinegar.

    Oh, and a nice green companion to using vinegar for fabric softener is to throw a balled up chunk of aluminum foil in with clothes that end up in the dryer. It is a blessing in the winter when the pets have shed all over your fleece blankets, and you can enjoy shock-free laundry.

    • Thanks for all the great tips! I’ve heard from many that aluminum works well as a static remover. I have a whole post about using apple cider vinegar as a conditioning rinse, but not white distilled. It’s more acidic than apple, so I’d be concerned about using it on my hair. Is it working well for you?

  14. I love using vinegar! Whenever something spills my husband says “Get out the vinegar!”

    But I have a question.

    After you soak the vinegar in oranges does it make it sticky or attract bugs or anything? I’m assuming it wouldn’t, otherwise someone would probable of said something, but I just wanted to ask.


  15. Does it need to sit at room temp for 2 weeks or the fridge? Thanks!

  16. I am just echoing all the others out there who are saying thank you. Your recipes always turn out well for me, and I really love them. One of my daughters is dealing with an outbreak of allergies, and I am trying to change it up in our house and use less chemicals, just trying to see if it will help her. I love the simplicity of your recipes and that you try to put alternatives when you find them. Thank you for all the work you do. Your site is priceless!

    • I do so appreciate that, Lisa. Thank you for taking the time to leave me such nice comments! I do hope you find answers for your daughter. I’ve found that doctors aren’t much help when it comes to allergies and food issues – they just prescribe things. You might be interested in the GAPS diet, which I write about here. Many bloggers have healed their children’s and their own allergies on the diet as it’s often a gut issue.

  17. Are there any uses that the orange scented vinegar don’t work well for? I’ve been afraid to try it on glass, afraid that some of the oils from the rind would make it streak. I mix white vinegar with cheap hair conditioner for clothes softening. I can’t stand the smell of ACV. I’m white vinegar all the way.

    • Hi Margaret! I have used on my windows before, but generally it’s just easier to use white vinegar straight for that. It does work well, believe it or not! I use white vinegar (not ACV) for fabric softener and it works beautifully! Thanks for stopping by!

  18. Is this citrus vinegar cleaner safe on foods, can it put some in washing water when we wash the vegetables and fruits or spray on them?

    Thanks a lot…

  19. hi I love this idea…but just wondering if you know if white vinegar is the same as distilled malt vinegar
    thank you xx

  20. This might be a silly question, but do you worry about the wax coating or pesticides on non-organic oranges??

  21. I thought I was the only person who did this! I came up with it because it helps kill cat pee odors and makes them not re-use the places you don’t want them to go!

  22. Roxane Rudick says:

    I have been using the stronger ‘cleaning vinegar’ for awhile now which I buy in 1/2 gallon plastic bottles at Walmart. I’m guessing the stronger strength will work like the original vinegar in your recipe. Is there any advantage to leaving the citrus peels in the vinegar instead of straining them out?

  23. Mrs. Dawn Fitch says:

    Thank you for all the great advice and recipes!

  24. I made this, but after a while it turned brown. Can you please tell me why or what I may have done wrong?

    • Hi Austin! I’m not sure – was it in a cool, dark place? If it got any sunlight, that would probably make it turn brown. Was it tightly sealed in a mason jar? Any air seeping in would cause that, too. And how long did you let it sit? It only needs a few weeks or less.

  25. what is the shelf life of this citrus vinegar, will it go rancid?

  26. Aimee Shaffer says:

    I buy white distilled vinegar in large jugs because I use it for cleaning most everything in my house. I then funnel it into smaller spray bottles, etc. Could I just put the orange peels in the large jug and leave them there?

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  33. Jonathan says:

    Just finished my 2 weeks wait.
    Gonna strain the peels, I however used grapefruit.

    Seems like I’ll need a coffee filter as there are tiny white segments in the bottle.

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