Fruits and vegetables are a fundamental part of our diet and believe it or not, also great for cleaning! As an ingredient, not only they’re filled with hundreds of nutrients, but they’re also delicious and can be used for any type of dish you can think of.
But beyond that, they’re also good as cleaning items. In fact, many of them are used as part of manufactured cleaning products, for areas as diverse as sanitizing, degreasing, and deodorizing.
This means that you can create your own DIY cleaning products that are effective, quick and cheap and, most importantly, safe to use around you and your family. You can even use different fruits and vegetables and mix them for better results. Of course, remember to try them first in a small, hidden area before going all in.
Without further ado, let’s find out 10 fruits and vegetables that also double up as cleaning agents!
Lemon: An All-Purpose Cleaner
Lemon is at the top of the list and they’re all good reasons. If you’ve read our guide about Cleaning With Essential Oils you already know what lemon is capable of. Lemon is also found in most cleaning products thanks to its degreasing properties. The active cleaning component in lemon and other citrus fruits is citric acid. Acidic compounds are common as cleaning agents because they’re able to remove stains and grease.
You can use both the peel and the juice for different purposes. For example, to remove odor and grime from your microwave you can use half a cup of water alongside 1 lemon cut in half. Place the bowl in the microwave and run it for 3 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes without opening the microwave to let all the steam loosen food junk.
Remove the bowl and the turntable and wipe everything out with a microfiber cloth. If necessary, damp your cloth in the lemon juice water mix and scrub your microwave to remove stubborn stains.
As always, try any DIY cleaning product, especially acidic elements such as lemon, in a small, inconspicuous place. Remember that natural stones (granite and marble for example) do not get along with acidic elements.
Lemon can be used for cleaning wood, too. If you mix two teaspoons of olive oil, 2 teaspoons of white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice you will obtain a DIY cleaner that works as a disinfectant, stain remover and conditioner for your wooden surfaces. You can use apply it with a microfiber cloth, wiping the excess with a clean, fresh cloth.
You may also use lemon as a sink cleaner, by dipping half a lemon in salt you can remove rust stains in your sink area. The combination of citric acid and kosher salt will absorb the rust and your sink will look brand new.
Walnuts: a Quick Wood Polisher and Stain Remover
Walnuts are the fruits of a walnut tree. This is actually a surprising agent for many people. Perhaps because of its size or the fact that we don’t extract juice from it as easily as a lemon, for example. But the truth is that you can use it for wood polishing.
They’re delicious as a snack and now, you can try them as wood polisher! As we know, wood sometimes gets scratched and they don’t look pretty.
To fix this, simply peel one or two walnuts and scrub them onto the scratch you want to remove. With friction, walnuts will release oil that will “attach” to the surface and that will even out its color until it’s gone. Keep in mind this will only work for small to medium-sized scratches, but even if the scratch seems big to you, you don’t lose anything by trying!
Apple Cider Vinegar: The Best Floor Cleaner
Apples, or more specifically, apple cider vinegar, is a great cleaning agent. White distilled vinegar is a versatile cleaning agent, and apple cider is no different. They can be used interchangeably most times, with some exceptions. For example, light-colored leather is going to be cleaned more safely using white vinegar, while apple cider vinegar is safer to use with dark-colored leather.
Apple cider vinegar can be combined with other cleaning products to create an effective cleaning mix.
It can be used straight or diluted with water, too. For example, you can use it for cleaning wooden and ceramic floors.
Orange Peels: A Different All-Purpose Cleaner
Like lemon, oranges are popular as a cleaning agent. Many cleaning products come with an orange scent if you think about it.
The best part is that you can use orange peels instead of throwing them away, so you really get to use every part of the orange.
It’s super quick and easy to prepare! It will take some time for the mix to “settle” down, though. You will just need a large mason jar and some vinegar, as well as a glass spray bottle. Just fill the mason jar (at least) halfway with orange peels, and fill the rest with either white vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
Close the lid and let it sit for 2 weeks. The vinegar will extract oil from the oranges which will add to its cleaning power and fragrance. After at least 2 weeks, strain the vinegar using a fine-mesh sieve. Do this until you remove all orange peels and dilute your vinegar/orange mix with equal amounts of water before placing it on a spray bottle.
Remember to store it in a dark, cool place before straining out the peels. You can add a few drops of rosemary essential oil which work great with vinegar and will add extra fragrance.
Cucumber: The Ultimate Steel Polish
You’ve probably heard about cucumber as a great ingredient for salads, but also great for skin care. And now, you can use them as a DIY cleaning product too!
Cucumber is full of vitamins and minerals and it can work for removing tarnish from stainless steel. Just grab a slice of a cucumber and rub it against the stainless steel surface. You can use this for cleaning appliances, for example. Remember to follow the direction of the grain whenever you’re cleaning stainless steel.
Grapefruit: A Cookware And Appliance Degreaser
Just like lemon and oranges, grapefruit is used constantly as a cleaning product or scent.
Grapefruit can be used for restoring your cookware. Just grab a grapefruit, cut it in half and rub it over your pots or pans. Wipe with a dry washcloth and it will look nice and shiny. You can remove mold and mildew with it, too.
Just mix one cup of vinegar, ½ cup of sodium borate powder (borax) and ½ cup of grapefruit juice. Here you’re combining sanitizing, anti-bacterial and degreasing properties into a single spray bottle. Just apply and wipe away after 15 minutes with a clean sponge.
Similar to lemon, you can also dip half a grapefruit and dip it into salt. This will lift grease from fixtures and appliances. It is especially helpful for your oven, and you can replace the conventional oven cleaner which is full of harmful chemicals. This trick will remove grease and offer a pleasant citrus fragrance.
Banana: A Multi-Purpose Cleaner and Polish
If you don’t have walnuts, you can use a much cheaper alternative: banana peels! This will be able to remove dust and shine wooden surfaces.
If you have overripe bananas, instead of throwing them out you can use them as wood polish. You just need to take the peel off and scrub the banana against the surface. After 10 minutes, you can wipe it out with a microfiber cloth. Your wooden furniture will look nice and shiny.
Potato: Say Goodbye to Rusty Silver and Iron
Who would’ve thought that potatoes are good for cleaning?! Well, the truth is that potatoes contain something called oxalic acid, which is capable of removing rust from silver and iron cookware. They can get rusty because of different reasons. One of them is just by using them or, more exactly, washing them. With time, water will cause them to rust.
On a similar note, if you leave them soaked in water for too long, it will speed up the process. Another common cause is the place you live, because this sets the humidity levels for that place. For example, if you live in Dallas, you might have high levels of humidity on certain times of the year, which means that the air carries more water particles. You tend to find rusty appliances and cookware near places with high humidity.
If you have an iron cast skillet or a silver pan that is looking tarnished or rusty, you can cut a potato in half and dip the cut end in baking soda (just like you would with lemon or grapefruit and salt) and rub it against the rusty areas. You might want to slice it off a bit once the cut end of the potato gets slick or slimy, and repeat the process until you remove the rust. Remember to wipe with a microfiber cloth and let it dry.
If you broke a glass or a mug, you might have trouble collecting shards of glass. In this case, a potato can save your day! Just take half a raw potato and run it over the glass shards. Don’t forget to use thick safety gloves.
Garlic: Keep Your Toilet Spotless
What is garlic in the first place? Well, the truth is that garlic is in fact a vegetable, which belongs to the onion family.
You might not think of garlic as an ingredient that can be related to cleaning. Even though it is a must-have ingredient for the most essential food recipes you can think of, its smell and taste is not traditionally related to something “fresh” or “sanitized”.
Garlic has been proven to have antimicrobial properties thanks to a compound called Allicin, according to research. And what better way to use this than to clean your toilet?
For obvious reasons, toilets are constantly filled with bacteria, and they are one of the fixtures that require the most attention.
Here’s how you can make good use of garlic: crush one medium-sized clove or two small cloves of garlic and leave them in the toilet right before you go to sleep. You usually don’t use your toilet after you’ve gone to sleep so there’s a big time window for garlic to act upon the surface. When you wake up just flush the toilet and the garlic will be gone.
The second strategy requires just a little bit more effort. But don’t worry, it’s super fast and easy! It consists of preparing garlic tea. Bring one cup of water to a boil in a pan. Peel and mince 3 cloves of garlic and place them on your pan.
There you have it! You have probably heard of these fruits and vegetables as cleaning products previously, but a few of them might’ve caught you by surprise!
As always, remember to test your DIY cleaning solutions on a small, hidden area first. And if you prefer to stick to the basics, you can always hire a professional cleaning service for taking care of your home.