Spring Cleaning with Citrus!

Mandarins on my backyard tree.

Mandarins on my backyard tree.

Some of our readers have requested some recipes for spring cleaning using citrus.

Citrus oils are great for cleaning but one word of caution, most citrus essential oils are phototoxic. That means if you have them on your skin and you are exposed to the sun (I'm not talking about walking to the car from the house) you can get moderate to severe sunburns, complete with blisters and lots of no funness. So if you choose to use citrus essential oils when you clean be sure to either wear gloves while cleaning, or avoid the sun for at least 12 hours after using them.

Citrus oils are generally cold pressed (there are some which are steam distilled) and in the cold press process, any pesticides used on the trees and fruits will come through to the final oil product. Therefore it is recommended you use only 100% organic essential oil.

These recipes are adapted from Aromahead Institutes book Essential Living: Aromatherapy Recipes for Health and Home. 

Germ Free Cutting Boards

There are two great methods for cleaning your cutting boards and keep them safe and germ free. 

  1. First wash the board with soap. Then, sprinkle coarse sea salt onto your board. Using the inside rind of a lemon, lime, or even an orange, scrub the salt into the board. Rinse and dry.
  2. Wash the board with soap and then add five drops of lemon essential oil to a clean sponge. Scrub the board vigorously for a few minutes. Rinse and dry.

Incidentally you can use this same method to scrub your tub! Use half a grapefruit, just the peel, sea salt and your choice of essential oil. Lavender is a great choice because it not only smells great but it is anti-viral, anti-bacterial, calming and supports the immune system.

All Purpose Cleaning Spray

What you need:

  • 4 oz Spray bottle
  • 3 oz. water (or a hydrosol of your choice like lavender)
  • 2 tsp castile soap (I use dr. bronner's)
  • 2 tbsp hydrogen peroxide
  • dash of white vinegar
  • 25 drops total of your choice of the following oils
  1. Peppermint
  2. Black Spruce
  3. Lemon
  4. Lime
  5. Mandarin
  6. Eucalyptus
  7. Lavender

Combine your ingredients into your spray bottle. I recommend adding all your essential oils to a separate small bottle to be sure you get the blend you want and the right number of drops, and then pouring it into the cleaning spray. Shake it all up and you are ready to go!

Remember that with natural cleaning products you are going to need to use a little more elbow grease than with store bought chemical products. I've found applying the cleaner and letting it sit for a few minutes and THEN scrubbing it in and wiping it off works great.