Store-bought cleaning products are known for using lemon. We’ve already talked about how easy it is to clean with lemons, making it a popular alternative to chemical-based products, but what makes lemons and grapefruits such an effective cleaner is the same citric acid that you can get as a powerful cleaning powder.
I know, it sounds like a poisonous substance but it is a low-level acid that’s both safe and strong enough to break down soap scum and dirt. Mixed with water, citric acid powder makes a homemade miracle solution for most of your tough stains. Here are 15 items you should be using citric acid on for a thorough cleaning.
Flush out your dishwasher
Hard water deposits build up in dishwashers with heavy use, but citric acid can get in all of those small crevices to break down build-up. We’ve suggested lemon cordial in the past for its high concentration of citric acid, but it can be used directly.
Just fill the dishwasher cup with powdered citric acid and run as usual. Run a second time with regular detergent to clear out any particles left over. You can do this with dishes inside as well.
Clean an electric kettle
Mineral deposits can be difficult to remove from the small sections of your electric kettle. Boiling water and a little citric acid can take care of that for you with no scrubbing needed.
Fill the kettle halfway and turn it on to boil. Once it’s boiling, put one to two tablespoons of citric acid into the water and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse, and the pesky minerals will be gone.
Remove toilet rings
Those rings around your toilet are easily dissolved with citric acid. Pour one tablespoon of powdered citric acid into the toilet bowl, let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes, and then flush. The bowl will sparkle like new.
If you want an easy way to keep the bowl fresh and clean, we recommend homemade cleaning pods. Add citric acid to a silicone ice cube tray and pour dish soap into each square to make a doughy paste. Let it sit for a couple of hours to dry, then pop out the little pod for single-use cleaning.
Clean toaster oven racks
Your toaster oven racks can get pretty gross with food drippings, oil, and grease. They get baked into the grates, making them difficult to clean, but a quick soak in citric acid and water can break down the grease for easy cleaning.
Put two rounded tablespoons of citric acid in a bucket of water so the powder dissolves. Next, add the racks and let sit for 20 to 30 minutes, then scrub away the grease stains with a scrubbing brush. They should come off easily.
Breakdown hard water deposits in humidifiers
Humidifiers are prone to hard water deposits at the water tank base and around the heating port. I tried to scrub this area with all sorts of materials and could never really get it clean, until I found that sprinkling citric acid works wonders to remove that build-up with minimal scrubbing.
Boil six to eight cups of water, depending on the size of your humidifier, and grab a box of powdered citric acid. Remove the water tank and pour citric acid into the base enough to cover the surface area, then pour in the boiling water. Add citric acid as needed to cover the affected area. Let it sit for five minutes, then scrape away the deposits. Repeat this process as many times as needed, but it shouldn’t take many.
Scrub out swimming pool stains
Standing water in swimming pools can produce water stains. To remove them, you can give it a good acid wash (although this is a bit involved, so you might want to enlist the help of some friends).
Your pool should be drained and any debris removed. You’ll want to combine one gallon of citric acid with one gallon of water, making a spreadable paste. Take the mixture and apply it to the stained areas of the pool and let sit for 30 minutes, then scrub the stains with an acid brush and rinse. You’ll want to neutralise the acid that falls to the bottom of the pool with baking soda and then remove it before refilling your pool.
Descale your hot water heater
Descaling is not just a process for clearing out coffee makers — it’s also necessary for large appliances like water heaters. Fortunately, citric acid is a perfect and natural solution to flush out your hot water heater.
You’ll want to pour 250 milliliters of citric acid into 10 litres of water, and pour the liquid into the cold water valve of your water heater. Let the solution sit for eight hours. Then, connect a hose to the drain connection at the bottom of the heater and rinse out into a sink. You’ll see all of the deposits flushed out into the sink.
Clean water-stained windows
Because citric acid clears our hard water, it’s a perfect candidate to remove water stains on windows. Combine two tablespoons of powdered citric acid and one cup of hot water into a spray bottle. Shake it up to dissolve the powder and spray directly onto the window. Wait less than a minute, then wipe the solution away for crystal clear windows.
Make mirrors shine
Cleaning gunk off mirrors is hard when the solution leaves streaks or doesn’t remove everything, but citric acid works here, too. Just fill your spray bottle with one part citric acid and one part white vinegar, and liberally spritz the mirror. Wipe with a cleaning cloth (and a squeegee, if you have one) and dry with a microfiber towel. You’ll be able to see every pore, for better or worse.
Descale a coffee maker
There are many ways to descale your coffee pot, one being white vinegar and another being citric acid. Just fill your coffee maker reservoir with one cup of water and one cup of liquid or powder citric acid. Run the coffeemaker as usual, and watch the lime and calcium build up flush itself out. Use the solution to clean out any particles in the pot, dump, and then run the maker again with only water to rinse.
Clean grout sans scrubbing
Citric acid will scrub grout for you. Just put two tablespoons of powdered citric acid into a spray bottle with one litre of hot water and shake to dissolve. Spray the grout and wait a few minutes, then effortlessly wipe away dirt and grime from your tile.
Rust on tools like screwdrivers and T squares make it difficult to use on your everyday projects around the house. Instead of throwing them away, make a rust removal solution with citric acid.
Combine half an ounce of citric acid with 425.24 g of water in a container big enough to hold your rusted tools. Soak the items for 30 minutes to an hour, then clean with a scouring pad or brass brush. Continue to dunk and scrub, letting the tools sit periodically for the solution to continue to lift the rust. Then dry your tools and oil them to prevent future rusting.
Shine stainless steel
Citric acid will clean your stainless steel appliances, removing dirt you didn’t even notice was there (but you’ll surely notice the difference afterwards when it’s clean).
Take your citric acid and hot water solution (one tablespoon of acid to one cup of water), spray the appliances, and let sit for three to five minutes. Wipe away the solution, then rinse with a wet cloth. Finally, dry with a microfiber cloth for some extra shine.
Clean grimy countertops
Citric acid is a natural and effective way to clean all sorts of surfaces, from glass stovetops to butcher blocks. Simply spray the counter with your solution of one tablespoon citric acid and one cup of hot water. Let stand for one to two minutes, then rinse and wipe dry. Your countertops will not only be clean, but sanitised as well. Do not try this method on granite or marble, though, as the acid mixture can damage those fancier countertops.
Brighten your whites
Citric acid can act as a natural whitener for your stained clothing. For this one, just use lemon juice for its citric acid. Pour one cup of lemon juice in with your detergent in your washing machine with a load of whites. Family Handyman suggests drying your clothes in the sun for even brighter whites.