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Clean with Citric Acid

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When life gives you lemons, clean with citric acid! It’s one of our favorite ingredients for bathroom and kitchen cleaning.

What is it?

A Swedish scientist, Karl Scheels first discovered a crystallization in lemon juice in 1784, naming it citric acid [1]. It is used as an emulsifier, acidulant, chelating agent, sequestrant, flavorant, and a buffering agent. This chemical is commonly used for flavor and preservation in many products including cheese, soda, and canned foods. It’s the number one food additive in the world! It also is one of the main ingredients in sour candies, giving the candies their tart taste. Nearly 70% of citric acid production is for food products with only 10% going to cleaning agents [2]. You can also find it in pharmaceuticals and in cosmetics too. In our industry of cleaning, it’s an effective cleaning agent because it disinfects against a variety of bacteria and viruses.

Graph showing the uses of manufactured citric acid in 2018.
Graph showing the uses of manufactured citric acid in 2018. Data from PubMed Report.
HOw Does it Clean?

Naturally derived from citrus fruit, citric acid is a bactericide and fungicide [3]. Not only does it remove mold, mildew, and bacteria, but it’s also great with removing rust, soap scum, hard water stains, and calcium deposits [4]. Many other commercial mold and mildew removers contain harsh chemicals that can cause issues with breathing. Citric acid is effective because it lowers the pH levels of bacteria and allows the cleaner to penetrate the cell walls of mold, mildew, and bacteria. It also acts as an effective and harmless disinfectant to several viruses including human norovirus [5].

“… citric acid helps break down any gunk, grime, or build-up.”

Melissa Maker founder of Clean My Space

explore the uses

This magical ingredient works well on

lemons and citric acid on a cutting board
  • Faucets
  • Soap scum in shower
  • Inside toilets
  • Metal
  • Oven
  • Coffee pot
  • Dishwasher
  • Dishes
  • Laundry
  • Carpets
  • Windows
  • Vegetable Rinse

Warning: Avoid using this product on any natural stone including granite and marble. This acidity can cause damage.

lemons on counter and spooning citric acid into a cup of water

To use, add a few tablespoons into to a spray bottle, fill the rest of the way with water and spray on non-porous surfaces. If you are cleaning a toilet you can put the citric acid in the bowl and let it sit for 15-20 minutes to allow it to work most effectively. Another cleaning hack is adding about a tablespoon in the detergent cup of your dishwasher and run the cycle on hot. This will remove grime of build-up. You can even add a little bit in your typical washing cycle to make your glass and silverware shiny without having water spots. To descale a coffee pot, add fill up your water reservoir with water, add a couple tablespoons of citric acid, and run as usual.


Citric acid works as an effective, safe ingredient in many of our cleaning methods. My personal favorite is how well it can clean build-up in a toilet. If you have a lemon, you can use it straight up to clean with, however, it only contains 5% to 8% citric acid. You can find it in most grocery stores (since it is a food safe product) in a powder form to use against mold, mildew, bacteria, and grime.

Let us know what you think about this product. What is your favorite way of using citric acid in cleaning?

peace sign

Happy Cleaning!


Keto Guidebook
January 7, 2022 at 11:18 pm

Great content! Keep up the good work!

10 Healthy Habits to Start the New Year - Green Team Cleaners
January 4, 2024 at 5:28 pm

[…] Green Cleaning Products: Swap out conventional cleaning products for eco-friendly alternatives. These products are not only gentle on your health but also on the environment, reducing your carbon footprint.  You can purchase these locally or make them at home using earth safe ingredients.  Some easy alternatives can even be found in your pantry including vinegar, baking soda, and citric acid. […]

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