2020: 24 Days of Waste Reduction – Day #6

Oops – I’ve already fallen behind. We’ll pretend that I’m posting this yesterday.

For day six, I’m sharing a cleaning DIY that has been very successful in my home. This is a lemon and vinegar cleaning solution that utilizes all the potential of lemons, even after you’ve used the juice for cooking, baking or drinks.

Supplies you’ll need:

  • A jug, bottle or large glass container (I reuse 2.85L olive oil glass jugs)
  • White vinegar
  • Lemons that have already been ‘used’, aka lemons you’ve juiced and squeezed.
  • A sieve
  • a large pot or glass measuring cup
  • skewers
  • a funnel (depending on the size of your container) or soup scoop

Step one: choose a sturdy container that can store a decent amount of liquid. I reuse empty 2.85L olive oil jugs – they have a fairly small opening, but are easy for me to carry and pour out of once the solution is ready. Ensure the container is clean and dry before you use it, and has a lid or stopper.

Two different olive oil jugs that have useful handles for pouring and fairly small openings.

Step two: start saving lemons that you’ve juiced and cut them small enough to fit in the container opening. No need to separate rind from pulp, you will be straining the solution later. Take the first batch of lemons you’ve used up and put them in the container. Pour enough white vinegar into the container to cover the lemons and cover the container with lid or stopper.

I buy large containers of vinegar (its cost effective and reduces plastic used). We particularly love the Tom Collins beverage in my house, so we go through many lemons!

Step three: continue to add lemons as you use them in cooking, baking or drinks. Ensure you add more white vinegar each time you add lemons, and that you cover the container. The more lemons you add, the stronger the solution will be – but there is no need to have a 1:1 ratio of vinegar to lemon. I typically go for a 1:4 ratio of lemon to vinegar.

Step four: let the solution sit, with the lid on it, for at least a couple weeks. I’m lazy and often forget about these while they are ‘steeping’, and tend to finish it off in about a month.

Step five: put a large pot in your kitchen sink so that you have lots of space. Place the sieve over the pot, and pour the solution in. You want the sieve to catch all of the lemons and for the liquid to strain down into the pot. Some of the lemons may be tricky to get out of the container if the hole is quite small. I find a skewer works well to stab the lemon chunks and pull them out. Give the container a quick rinse to ensure there is no lemon pulp left in it.

Step six: compost the lemon chunks. Use a funnel or soup scoop to pour the solution back into the container. It’ll be pretty strong, so don’t put your nose or mouth too close.

Here is a finished solution – you can see how the lemon has penetrated the vinegar and changed the colour to look more yellow.

To use: this is a very strong solution, and I’ve found it really awesome for cleaning my bathtub, shower and drains (especially where my hair tends to clog). For the grit in my bath, I will sprinkle baking soda on those spots and then slowly pour the solution right on it – it will cause a chemical reaction and that grit will start to break down. From there it’s super easy to wipe it away. You can dilute this solution as you wish with water, and use it as a spray for surfaces. If using in your bathroom, ensure you have the fan running and the door open, as it is very strong – safety first!

Lemons are awesome for cleaning, and by steeping them in vinegar, you not only give extra life to already used lemons, but can also make a cheap cleaning solution.

For more information on vinegar and what it should or shouldn’t be used for re: cleaning, check out this link: https://davidsuzuki.org/queen-of-green/does-vinegar-kill-germs/

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