10 Citric Acid Cleaning Uses You Never Knew About

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Put down that juicer. Cleaning with citric acid doesn\’t mean scrubbing down your toilet bowl with lemon juice or other citrus fruits. Citric acid is sold in crystal form and is sometimes labeled as \”sour salt.\” Food-grade citric acid is available at many grocery stores, and considering that it can be safely ingested, you know it\’s safe to clean with too. (How many cleaning products can you say that about?)

Using a citric acid solution helps you clean and sanitize hard surfaces throughout the home. Because citric acid is famously effective at breaking down limescale deposits, it\’s perfectly suited for cleaning a lot of household items that use water. One package of citric acid powder can go a long way, adding to the eco-friendly appeal of this natural cleaning solution. To make a basic citric acid solution, dissolve about 1/4 cup of citric acid crystals in 1 gallon of hot water. Use about a teaspoon of citric acid per cup of water if you\’re making a smaller batch.

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Citric acid in container and cleaning tools on wooden background.

1. Deep Clean the Dishwasher

Don\’t forget to clean the appliances that clean your stuff. Use citric acid to remove mineral buildup, stains and odors in your dishwasher. (This is actually the method that GE suggests for cleaning its dishwashers.) Fill the detergent cup with citric acid crystals and run the empty dishwasher through a regular cleaning cycle. Then, fill the detergent cup with your regular dishwashing detergent and run the empty dishwasher through another cycle.

Empty Dishwasher

2. Make Windows Sparkle

Like white vinegar, citric acid makes an effective DIY window cleaner, and it definitely smells better, so you don\’t have to think about adding essential oils to mask the odor. A citric acid solution is especially useful for cleaning windows or mirrors with hard water stains. Use a spray bottle to coat windows or mirrors with the solution, wait a few minutes and wipe them down with clean microfiber cloths.

Cleaning the windows

3. Scrub Toilets

Any cleaning hack that makes it quicker and easier to clean toilets is a hack worth knowing. To get rid of limescale and minor stains, sprinkle citric acid powder around the sides of the toilet bowl as well as into the water itself. Use a toilet brush to scrub the entire interior of the toilet and then flush.

Cleaning toilet bowl

4. Remove Soap Scum From Showers

Are you looking for a new way to banish soap scum from shower doors? Instead of all-purpose cleaners, bring a spray bottle of citric acid cleaner the next time you take a hot shower. Spritz down any areas of soap scum and use a soft brush or washcloth to work in the cleaner. Adjust the shower spray (or fill a spray bottle with plain water) to rinse the areas you\’ve cleaned.

Hands in protective gloves washing shower door

5. Descale a Kettle or Coffee Pot

If your coffee machine\’s inner workings are harboring bacteria or the inside of your tea kettle is coated with a layer of calcium deposits, your morning beverage isn\’t going to taste quite right. Plus, it\’s disgusting to think about ingesting that stuff. So, use citric acid to clean your coffee pot or kettle weekly. Fill the pot or kettle with citric acid solution and set the machine to brew or boil.

Young adult woman hand holding spoon with white powder of citric acid for descaling kettle

6. Clean a Clothes Iron

Neglecting to clean your iron is all fine and good … until you go to press your most expensive garment and the iron transfers streaks of mineral deposits onto the fabric, or the vents get so clogged with limescale that spurts of water come spitting out and leave noticeable marks on your clothes. Fill the iron\’s reservoir with few tablespoons of a citric acid and water solution and let the iron steam until the reservoir is empty. Then, repeat with just water in the reservoir. Wipe the iron\’s metal plate with a damp paper towel. If any vents are still clogged with limescale, use cotton swabs dipped in citric acid solution to clean them.

Closeup of woman cleaning iron with cloth

7. Clean Greasy Countertops

Citric acid is a powerful degreaser, so use it to clean up spilled oil or other greasy residue from your countertops and stainless steel appliances. However, exercise caution if you have natural stone, granite or marble countertops. Using citric acid or any kind of acidic solution can damage these surfaces over time.

Woman Cleans Kitchen Counter

8. Descale Faucets and Fixtures

Faucet handles and shower fixtures tend to take a lot of the brunt of hard water. They\’re used so frequently that mineral deposits and hard water stains build up quickly. Cleaning these fixtures with citric acid cleaner is a quick way to make them look their best and function efficiently. When you notice that holes in your showerhead are being blocked by limescale, soak the entire showerhead in citric acid solution for 15 minutes.

Sponge and gloves for washing dirty faucet with limescale

9. Clean Humidifier Tanks

Cleaning your humidifier is about more than housekeeping; it\’s about making sure that you and your loved ones aren\’t ingesting mildew, bacteria and other gunk with every breath. Deep cleaning the unit needs to be a weekly task. Because citric acid has anti-bacterial and disinfecting properties and it\’s so safe to handle and ingest, it\’s an appealing DIY cleaner for your humidifier\’s water reservoir. That said, you may also want to clean the humidifier with bleach every few weeks to prevent serious mold growth.

Modern air humidifier on table in living room.

10. Scour Grimy Tile and Grout

Grime accumulates quickly in the grout of a tile floor, making the entire room look a little dingy. Scrubbing a citric acid solution into the grout using a soft brush or sponge should lift dirt and leave your floor looking brighter. It\’s safe to use on a dirty tile floor itself too as long as you don\’t have natural stone, granite or marble tiles.

Cleaning a tile floor

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