Thursday, 9 October 2014

Lemon Vinegar

I came across a blog entry on about a household cleaner made from vinegar and LEMON peels. I decided to try it out and set about making my own.

When I introduced it to Lucky, who was our Cleaning Angel at that stage, she was very impressed. Not only did it do a proper job, but it also smelled amazing so I taught her how to make her own. Now that we have moved and changed provinces we’ve had to look for a new Cleaning Angel and so Cindy came along. Soon I had her convinced about the dangers of ammonia-based cleaners and that MY detergent was the best in the world!  *lol*

Citrus peels contain d-Limonene, an oil that has the ability to clean and dissolve dirt. When extracted into a solvent such as white vinegar which in itself is a brilliant substitute for store-bought cleaners, you have a powerhouse that can clean just about any surface. I am not going to elaborate on the uses of this mighty mix of cleaning agents but feel free to add some of your own experiences in the comments.

Adding essential oils to your end product is not necessary. However, I do add peppermint, cinnamon and citronella essential oils (10 drops each to a 500ml dilution of the citrus-vinegar solution and water). These essential oils are absolute monsters when it comes to deterring bugs around the house. Our new home in the Western Cape had ants in every room! Some rooms would have a line of black ants coming in through a hole in the window pane or sill and they would be marching in a line through the whole room, out the door and down the passage! Since Cindy started using this potent mix, the ants have just about disappeared. There was also evidence of rodents in some of the kitchen cupboards but I am sure the peppermint essential oil will make them think twice before they actually decide to move back in with us!

So this is what you need:
-          Peels of as many lemons, oranges, mandarins or any other citrus peels as you can fit into your glass bottle;
-          Distilled white vinegar;
-          Empty sterilised glass bottle (I use Nescafè and Jakobs instant coffee granule bottles);
-          Citrus juicer;
-          Strainer;
-          Sharp kitchen knife;
-          Peppermint essential oil;
-          Cinnamon essential oil;
-          Citronella essential oil (optional)

Start by extracting the juice from your fruit:
I am lucky enough to own a food processor with a citrus juice component. You will also note that in my pictures I used very old lemons. They had very little juice and their peels were already turning leathery. This is fine, since the d-Limonene is still inside the peels and the vinegar will dig in there to get it all out for you.

Next, cut the little empty citrus peel cups in smaller sections. Not too small though! You do not want the whole jar brimful with peels else there won’t be any space for the vinegar! Also, it is not necessary to fill the WHOLE jar with as many peels as you can. One sliced up peel from one large lemon or orange should be sufficient.

Top up your jar with the white vinegar. A word of warning, though! I once stumbled across synthetic white vinegar. Luckily I was wearing my funky spectacles and was able to spot the monsters before I loaded them onto my trolley! Check the label, and if it says anything like "Imitation" or something to that effect, lift your nose high up and walk on by.

Close the lid on the jar. You may wish to place a note on the jar marking the date it was bottled, or when it should be ready for use. Here you can see I put down the date when the solution will be ready for use.

Store in a cool, dark place where you will be able to reach for every other day to give it a bit of a shake. This ensures that the vinegar is cycled properly and distributes the d-Limonene throughout the solution.

After two weeks, remove the lid or cap of your jar. Strain the liquid through a kitchen sieve. At the time that the photos were taken (you can see I have not been able to get to all my bloggings responsabilities for quite some time!) I did not have any muslin through which I could strain my liquid. This is fine, but if you want a clearer liquid you may use a muslin cloth through which you can strain yours.

Leave the peels over the jug or bowl so that as much of the vinegar can run out. Add some of your own effort to it by squishing it out by hand (you’ll know why I used “squished” instead of “squeeze” when you do this at home).

BONUS: you may throw the used peels in your dustbins, thus deodorising the trash cans for as long as the peels are inside them.

How to use:
Dilute one part citrus vinegar to one part water in a spray bottle. I am using our old Amway pistol grip sprayers because they last and last and last and last and last and last… as opposed to the ones we bought at Plasticland: their “last” is actually their LAST.
Add your essential oils to the mix, screw the sprayer top onto the bottle, shake shake shake shake and THERE YOU GO!

Fabbie, isn't it?

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