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It’s strange that we spend so much time worrying about sanitizing our living spaces, and especially in the kitchen, yet the very products we buy to do this often carry with them a load of dangerous chemicals that might just be worse than the bacteria they destroy. No one is saying that things don’t need to be clean, but surely there’s a better way than bottles of stuff that could seriously harm our families.

How about this: We can use the very foods we eat, the stuff we are stocking our cabinets and refrigerator shelves with, to handle lots of different cleaning jobs. And, if it works, wouldn’t that make a lot more sense than putting chemicals on every surface of the house? Next time, before breaking out the strong-smelling, eye-irritating, fluorescent solutions, take a look in the pantry, grab whatever citrus you are stocking and think about making these all-natural, much healthier cleaning products out of your produce.

1. An Amazing All-Purpose Cleaner

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For those new to natural cleaners, it’s safe to say that vinegar is amongst the best ingredients to have in the kitchen (and you can make it yourself with this article), with citrus and baking soda being close behind. For a citrus-scented all-purpose spray cleaner, it’s as easy as combining some chopped up citrus peels — lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, whatever — with vinegar. Let the mixture soak for a couple of weeks to a month before straining away the citrus peels. This cleaner is great for countertops, floors, the stove and even glass.

2. Fine for Furniture Polish

Forget about chemical-laden sprays for knocking the dust off the furniture and giving the wood a shine. Instead, it’s easy to simple grab a cup of olive oil (or other cooking oil) from the kitchen, combine it with half a cup of lemon juice and a quarter cup of grated lemon peel. Apply it to the furniture with a rag and store it in a cool dry place until it’s time to spruce things up again.

3. A Strong But Fair Degreaser

Citrus comes on again in this one, and actually, there is little else. Cut a piece of citrus fruit — better a lime or lemon — and squeeze half of it over the greasy spot to be cleaned. Let the juice sit for a few minutes and then add a little of your own elbow grease to the situation. If the mess still seems to stick, repeat the process, only this time, sprinkle a bit of salt on the surface first. It’ll add the abrasiveness need to get things sparkly again.

4. Organic Fruit and Vegetable Preserver and Wash

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Unless it’s organic all the way, then most of us, at least, have the occasional run in with pesticide and herbicide residue on our produce. It’s bad enough that the plants and environment have to endure that, but we certainly don’t want it to be something we are eating or, worse, feeding to our love ones. That’s why using a good vegetable wash might not be such a bad idea.  Just combine a squeeze of lemon (about half), a tablespoon of baking soda, and a cup of water. Spray it on, let sit for a few minutes then rinse the fruit with cold water. Ready to chop.

5. Master of Making Metal Shine

It’s a simple idea, really. Most of us know that acidic substance will magically clean dirty metal surface. We’ve heard of using Coke to clean an engine. Well, a good half of lemon does much the same. Just scrub the metal — copper, brass, chrome — with the open end. If it’s really tough, do just like with the degreaser and throw a little salt into the mix. The metal will end up sparkling without all the chemicals.

Seriously, who doesn’t keep a few lemons around the house? Limes? Fresh citrus fruits are amongst the cheapest around, and they stay good for a good stretch as well. They are a great source of vitamins for our bodies, and now we know that they can also work quite well as a multi-purpose cleaner. It’s time to get some.

Lead image source: Shannon Molleras/Flickr