How to Clean with Citric Acid

Citric acid comes from fruits like lemons and oranges. Manufacturers commonly add it to food as a preservative, but it’s also a powerful cleaner, capable of disinfecting and breaking down grease and grime.

How to Clean with Citric Acid

Buying a ready-made cleaner is the easiest way to clean with citric acid. Lemi-Shine, a cleaning brand with multiple products, uses citric acid in all its cleaners. A cheaper alternative is to make your own citric acid cleaner.

How to Make a Citric Acid Cleaner

You need hot water, citric acid powder, and a spray bottle to make your citric acid cleaner. You can purchase citric acid powder on Amazon for as little as $10 for a two-pound tub. 

Take safety precautions, as breathing in citric acid powder can irritate your sinuses. Wear protective gear if necessary.

What You Can Clean with Citric Acid

Cleaning with citric acid is similar to cleaning with lemon juice or vinegar – they can all break down grime and are safe for sealed, nonporous surfaces. According to the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, citric acid is a better disinfectant than vinegar since it’s a reducing agent that can unravel proteins in viruses.

1. Clean Hard, Nonporous Surfaces with Citric Acid

Hard, nonporous surfaces like laminate countertops, plastic, butcher block, and stainless steel are ideal candidates for a citric acid cleaner. Spray the surface and wipe away the cleaning solution with a microfiber cloth. 

2. Clean the Bathroom with Citric Acid

Since citric acid is a mild disinfectant and reducing agent, it’s ideal for cleaning the bathroom. It can kill germs and break down soap scum. Use it on your sink, faucet, toilet, and shower. If you have toilet bowl rings, spray liberally with your citric acid solution and allow it to sit for ten minutes. The acid will break down the rings, and you can scrub them off with your toilet bowl brush.

3. Sanitize a Wooden Cutting Board

Just like you can sanitize a wooden cutting board with lemon and salt, you can also use citric acid. Wash your cutting board with soap and water, pat dry, and spray with your citric acid solution. Allow it to sit on the cutting board for ten minutes before rinsing.

4. Clean a Glass Shower Door

Citric acid cleans glass and soap scum, making it the perfect option for a glass shower door. If your shower door is super dirty, spray the citric acid solution on and allow it to sit for ten minutes before wiping it with a microfiber cloth. Repeat as needed.

5. Wipe Windows and Mirrors

Spray your citric acid cleaner on windows and mirrors and wipe away for a streak-free shine. It’s one of the best homemade glass cleaners.

6. Remove Mineral Deposits Around Faucets 

To remove mineral deposits around stainless steel faucets, spray the solution and let it sit for a few minutes. Then, use a soft-bristled brush or old toothbrush to scrub mineral deposits and dirt built up from the faucet. It also removes soap scum or toothpaste buildup.

7. Shine Stainless Steel

Remove layers of gunk from your stainless steel appliances by spraying them with a citric acid solution and then wiping them with a soft microfiber cloth.

8. Descale a Coffee Maker

You can descale a coffee maker with citric acid the same way you would with vinegar. Start by emptying the old coffee filter and grounds and dumping the carafe so that it’s empty. Then, fill the reservoir tank with hot water, adding one tablespoon of powdered citric acid for every cup of hot water. Run the coffee maker as usual, then run it three extra times with water only to rinse.

9. Make Your Own Dishwasher Detergent

Citric acid makes an excellent dishwasher detergent, and there are many recipes you can use. Here’s one of our favorites:

  • <li½ cup of salt

Mix well and store in a glass air-tight container. Add one tablespoon to the detergent tray when it’s time to run the dishwasher.

10. Steam the Microwave with Citric Acid

Steaming an acid like lemon juice, vinegar, or citric acid is one the most effective ways to clean the inside of a microwave. Start by filling a microwave-safe bowl with two cups of water and two tablespoons of citric acid crystals. Stir and then microwave for five minutes. After the microwave cycle is complete, leave the door shut for five minutes to allow the steam to work. Remove the bowl, and then use a sponge or microfiber cloth to wipe the inside of your microwave.

What Not To Clean with Citric Acid

Like other acidic cleaners, citric acid is not safe for all surfaces. Don’t use it on natural stone, unsealed wood, waxed wax wood, or delicate fabrics. Avoid using citric acid in the laundry on dark fabrics since it has some bleaching properties. Also, never mix citric acid with other cleaners, especially bleach.