The Loving Cedar, LLC

Simplifying Life Series

simplify life

The focus of this series is to give simple tips and tricks to help ease the hectic life. Simple living creates positive changes in places you can’t even imagine. Those small changes can make a significant impact. Is your baby between the ages of 1 minute to 100,000 minutes, and do you want to create a loving, positive atmosphere for them? Then you are in the right place! 

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Simplifying Life with a Lemon

Table of Contents

cleaning with lemons

Have you ever heard the saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade?”

Let’s take that saying further and discuss how we can use lemons to make lemonade and keep a clean home with it!


Cleaning my home with a lemon?

The internet is so jam-packed and full of information about anything. But what is true or not? Determining if you can believe what you are reading is overwhelming and scary. This article is one of my favorites because I had a blast experimenting with natural DIY cleaning recipes. Some work great, and some don’t do anything. And a few just made a huge mess. (Sign up below for my free DIY product recipes printable)!

So, let’s return to the question, “Cleaning my home with a lemon?”

Yes, it turns out to be one of my favorite cleaning products. We will get to my top three favorites in a minute. But first, I want to talk about how some DIY products don’t always work and why lemons are my go-to.

A quick basic chemistry lesson

Let’s return to an introductory high school chemistry class before we get into what works and what doesn’t. My chemistry professor will be proud of me for applying what I learned! I am sure he really questioned whether I was paying attention some days. 

Do you remember mixing citric acid and baking soda with water? It bubbles and fizzes all over the place. So, what did you create there besides a huge mess? Saltwater, my friend. That is it!

Most DIY cleaning products mix those two. Yes, it gives you a warm fuzzy feeling when they bubble up and freak out, but in reality, it doesn’t clean what you are trying to get clean.  What do you do then? Yes, baking soda works great as an abrasive; go ahead and use it as that; just mix it with some water, scrub, and wipe. Wait, but vinegar is a great cleaning agent, too, right? Yes, so wipe down your surfaces with vinegar after using the baking soda. Just use them separately.

Science experiment

Stick with the Basics!

What if you don’t want to use so many products or feel like you are cleaning things twice when you wipe them down with baking soda and then wipe them down again with vinegar? That is just a waste of time. Stick with the acids. I love using vinegar, lemon, hydrogen peroxide, and citric acid. But not at the same time. I will explain later why we don’t want to mix certain things. Baking soda, which I use occasionally, like sprinkling it on carpet or mattresses before vacuuming, is a great odor eliminator. But my go-to is the acidic products. The acids are effective!

Don’t like the smell of vinegar? Mix some lemon with it. They are both acids, so yay! You can mix them. Want to know about another product I use? Course sea salt. Yes, you heard me. It works great as an abrasive. For example, to remove those hard water stains from your sink, cut a lemon in half, dip it in salt, and scrub it away. I know what you are thinking, “am I mixing an acid and base if you use lemon and sea salt together”? The answer is no; it is neither an acid nor a base. 

Unfortunately, vinegar isn’t that good of a disinfectant. It does disinfect, don’t get me wrong, but hydrogen peroxide is better. You don’t want to mix them; they can give off fumes that aren’t good to breathe in.

I know you have heard it before; keep it simple! Don’t make it too complicated. Keep your acids away from your bases; you are good to go!

Quick Recap on the Do's and Don'ts of DIY Cleaning Products

Don’t get me wrong—natural DIY cleaners are the way to go, but there are a few things you never want to combine. Some reactions can cause opposite effects or damage to surfaces and you!

Let’s discuss the three main ingredients you DO want to use for cleaning but DO NOT want to combine: vinegar, Hydrogen Peroxide, and Baking Soda. 

  • Combining vinegar and hydrogen peroxide creates a corrosive acid called Peracetic acid. This can cause skin, eye, and respiratory irritation and damage some household surfaces.
  • Vinegar and baking soda are two ingredients you do not want to mix. Many DIY cleaner recipes combine these two, but they counteract each other. Combining vinegar and baking soda creates water and sodium acetate, which is a waste of money. Water and sodium acetate are watered-down saltwater. 
The bottom line: Keep disinfectant cleaners (vinegar, hydrogen peroxide) separate from scouring agents (baking soda).

The Fun Part: DIY Products that ACTUALLY Work

  • Boiling water with vinegar to pour down the drain will unclog your nasty drain! My daughter and I have long hair, so we get a lot of hair down the shower drain. If I start to fill the tub while showering, I boil two cups of water with two tablespoons of vinegar and pour it right down the drain! It works every time.
  • Want your towels to smell fresh? Soak them overnight in hot water and 2 C of vinegar. I fill the washer with hot water, add the vinegar and towels, and let them sit overnight. The next day, I add laundry soap and wash them as usual. I have also found that Grab Green laundry soap (click here to shop) leaves my clothes smelling great and feeling softer!
  • Need to make your home smell fresh? Add 3 T baking soda to 3 cups of water in your crock pot set on low with the lid off.
  • I already talked about using lemons with coarse salt for cleaning; I like this method, but you will need to re-dip the lemon in the salt, so take a bowl with you to the room you are cleaning. I had years of build-up in the bathrooms, so it took some scrubbing and lots of re-dipping, but it worked! My lemon was pretty mushy and done by the time I was done, but it worked!
  • Want dishes extra clean? Stick a lemon slice in the dishwasher! I don’t have water spots on my glasses anymore, either. You can also reuse lemons. Don’t just toss them out after making lemonade or scrubbing the sink; rinse the salt off and throw it into the dishwasher.
  • Toilets are one of the worst, and how do you really get the bowl clean since water sits in it all day, getting funky? This one took me several different experiments to try to figure out. I even went against my instincts and mixed vinegar and baking soda to make it bubble in the bowl to see if it did anything. I didn’t, but it got to me. I just poured citric acid into the bowl; it makes the bowl sparkling white where the water sits, like amazingly white, but what about the rest of it? I was even tempted to plug the toilet with a towel, overflow the bowl, and let it sit. Ok, I was more than tempted; I actually did it. It works, but WAY too much of a pain. I also drained the toilet and used salt and lemon. Don’t worry, I put gloves on, but I hated spending the time-draining, scrubbing, and sitting with my head in the toilet. So, what did I find that worked best? I used a pumice stone for the ring that is impossible to get off, and once I got on top of that, I used castle soap, squirted it around, let it run down, scrubbed, and flushed. Hydrogen peroxide is an excellent disinfectant; you can spray it around after. 
  • Do you have a glass oven top? I do, unfortunately. I have found that dish soap and baking soda mixed around work best. I use my fingers and play around with it until the top is covered, then I let it sit for a while. I then use a cloth to wipe it up. Sometimes, I will need to use a little elbow grease, so I rub it around with the cloth. 

Cleaning Hardwood and Natural Stone

Lots of DIY cleaning recipes say “all-purpose” cleaner, but this is different in some cases. For example, avoid acidic products on hardwood and stones like granite. Vinegar is not an excellent product for cleaning hardwood floors. If you wish to use a DIY cleaner on your hardwood floors, use rubbing alcohol, water, drops of dish soap, and some essential oil (optional). 

Why DIY Cleaning Products?

So why do I use essential natural products to clean instead of buying typical cleaning products?

  1. The products are most likely already in your home. You don’t have to go out and buy a bunch of different or new ones.
  2. It saves money! A gallon of vinegar costs less than cleaning products.
  3. It is better for the environment
  4. It is better for your family’s health. There aren’t any unwanted toxic fumes.
  5. If used correctly, they actually work!

Shop my Favorite Products Here!

I hope you enjoyed this article and got something out of it! What DIY cleaning recipes do you use? I’m always looking for new things to try in my home, and I would love to hear from you! Want to stay connected? Sign up for my free newsletter and receive printable DIY cleaning product recipes!

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I am Leah. Welcome to The Loving Cedar LLC. Here is where you will find parenting tips and tricks to help you simplify life.


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