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How To Use A Citric Acid Cleaner On These 6 Household Items

Chris Bolt

July 19, 2020
Featured image for citric acid article-2

If you’ve ever looked at the ingredients of modern cleaning products, you’ll probably find a scary list of toxic chemicals.

While they might work perfectly fine to get rid of dirt and germs, most of those chemicals end up in our water system, causing serious damage to marine life.

But there is an alternative that every household should consider.

Citric acid is one of the most versatile natural cleaning agents that also happens to be one of the most eco-friendly ways to clean your home.

But you have to be careful how and where you use it, as it’s not a suitable product for some types of materials.

First, let’s take a look at what to use citric acid for.

How To Use A Citric Acid Cleaner At Home

Here are 6 of the best uses for citric acid.

1. Deep-cleaning your kettle and coffee pot

This is possibly one of the most common citric acid uses for households. Your kettle will probably suffer from the biggest build up of limescale if your water is particularly hard.

You can create magic though when you add this ingredient to hot water. That’s when the acid will attack the limescale and completely dissolve it.

how to deep clean your kettle and coffee pot with citric acid cleaner

2. Removing grime and build up from your dishwasher

dishwasher that's dirty and old

Another problem with hard water is that detergents don’t fully dissolve in it. This can lead to soap scum building up that can become a breeding ground for bacteria and smells.

To fix this problem, simply add two teaspoons of citric acid and one spoon of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to your dishwasher then run it on a hot cycle.

3. Degunking your washing machine

Your washing machine can suffer the same fate as your dishwasher, but the build-up of limescale and detergent tend to do more damage in a washing machine.

The solution is the same for your dishwasher. Two teaspoons of this ingredient and one teaspoon of baking soda every 2 to 4 weeks should do the job.

buildup on a broken washing machine

High in citric acid, lemon juice is one of the best natural cleaners due to its low pH and antibacterial properties. Lemons also smell great and aren’t likely to cause damage to materials around what you are cleaning such as fabric or wood.

Cris Carl, Member of the Society for Environmental Journalists

4. Removing limescale from your faucets and sinks

limescale on a faucet

Most people just buy a spray bottle of limescale remover and never look at the chemicals in it. Not only are they harmful to the environment and possibly your health, but they often don’t work as well as citric acid.

To use citric acid for cleaning all the sinks and faucets in your home, just mix up a few spoons of it with warm water and wipe away any limescale.

5. Getting rid of hard water stains from your toilet bowl

Your toilet bowl is another area where you’ll notice a gradual build-up of water stains. No matter how hard you scrub, they seem impossible to remove.

To remove these stains, use the same mix as for your faucets and spray onto the toilet bowl every time you clean it. 

hard water stains on a toilet bowl

6. Disinfecting surface areas in your home

cleaning a table

Citric acid is also a potent antimicrobial, [1] so you should favor this green cleaner for other areas in your home like kitchen counters, tables, or other surfaces where you eat or prepare food.

To disinfect those surfaces in your home, simply mix a few spoonfuls of it with warm water in a spray bottle, add a few drops of essential oils, and your home will smell as clean as it is. 

Best Citric Acid Cleaning Products

If you want to use a natural cleaner to degunk and disinfect your household items but you don't want to sacrifice your lemons to the cause (because lemonade is amazing), then you should get these products instead. All of them have citric acid — meaning you can have your lemon and eat it too.

1. Citra Solv Natural Cleaner & Degreaser Concentrate

This is one of the most concentrated natural green cleaners available in the market today. It allows for countless uses in pure or diluted form to clean practically every part of your house.

People also love the fresh smell of citrus fruits that it leaves behind. 

2. Milliard 100% Citric Acid

If you prefer mixing up your own concentrate, Milliard provides you with the perfectly fine granules to make it easier to dissolve.

It’s also a food-grade product so that you could use it as a flavoring to homemade ice cream or candy.

3. Pure Organic Ingredients Citric Acid

This Pure product is possibly one of the finer grain citric acids available. The benefit of this is that it’s easier to apply directly to tough limescale and gently lift the stains.

Also, as it’s organically sourced, it would provide added peace of mind if you plan to use it in food. 

4. Lemi Shine Complete Dishwasher Bundle

I love these Lemi Shine products as they come in four different containers at different concentrations.

Simply pick one of the products depending on whether you need to deep clean one of your appliances or just want to add some extra sparkle to your glasses in the dishwasher. 

5. Halefresh Citric Acid

This non-GMO product is as pure as it gets.

There are no unnecessary added anti-caking agents that might otherwise make it less effective. Simply mix it with warm water and essential oils, and enjoy the fresh smell it leaves behind.

Most people just buy a spray bottle of limescale remover and never look at the chemicals in it. Not only are they harmful to the environment and possibly your health, but they often don’t work as well as citric acid.

As you can see, there are a lot of natural cleaning products with citric acid that you can use to clean your home. But why are these products so effective at removing limescale, soap scum, and hard water stains from your household items? To understand this, you have to understand how limescale forms and how it's removed. [2]

infographic on the chemistry of limescale infographic-2

Source: Compound Interest

What NOT To Clean With Citric Acid

To avoid destroying certain surfaces in your home, I would advise keeping this acid away from any natural stone. This would include unsealed stone tiles, marble or quartz countertops, and any kind of outside paving.

You should do the same thing with brass faucets, ornaments, or antiques — don’t get citric acid near them. It’s likely to cause staining that you can’t remove. 


Is citric acid safe for cleaning?

Yes, citric acid is safe for cleaning. The extract from lemon juice is 100% natural and practically harmless to humans and the environment. If you clean with citric acid, then you’ll still have the peace of mind that you have effectively dealt with germs.

Can I mix citric acid and vinegar?

Yes, you can mix citric acid and vinegar, but it might be unnecessary. They both contain acids, but citric acid is more effective at dealing with limescale. Some folks also don’t like the smell of vinegar, preferring the fresh citrus scents.

Is citric acid antibacterial?

Yes, citric acid is antibacterial and effectively deals with the most common household germs. It does this in a completely natural way where the acid attacks the outer membrane of bacteria and completely breaks them up.

Does citric acid bleach clothes?

Yes, citric acid can bleach clothes in high concentration. It’s not as potent as standard bleach, but you may want to be careful while cleaning. If you mix up a high concentration to deal with tough stains, then try to avoid contact with your clothes.

Is citric acid stronger than vinegar?

No, citric acid isn’t stronger than vinegar. The acetic acid in vinegar is a lot more aggressive and corrosive when it comes in contact with certain surfaces. But, there are many types of mineral deposits that citric acid can better deal with.

Can you mix baking soda and citric acid?

Yes, you can mix baking soda and citric acid, which is an effective combination for dealing with detergent deposits in appliances. The general recommendation is to aim for a 2:1 mix.

Can you mix borax and citric acid?

Yes, you can mix borax and citric acid. Some folks believe this is one of the best combinations for cleaning toilets.

Final Thoughts

If you want to take some extra steps towards protecting our environment, especially marine life, try citric acid to clean your home.

It has been scientifically proven to kill germs and do so without any potential risk to you or your family.

The refreshing smell is also far more natural than anything you’ll find in those chemical products you see at the store.

Check out any of the above-recommended products today and see for yourself how much cleaner your home will be at a fraction of the price of conventional cleaning products.



3 Comments on “How To Use A Citric Acid Cleaner On These 6 Household Items

    With regard to using baking soda or any ingredient that is base, from basic chemistry, one immediately neutralizes the solution.

    Mixing those two with water all you’ll get is basically a slightly salty water.

    If one wants to use the two because they do provide different effective cleaning objectives, use them separately. First make a baking soda paste, make sure you complete clean/remove that paste. Then use the acid solution.

    Doing that will actually work…

  1. Pingback: Kyselina citronová pro dokonale čistou domácnost |

  2. Can I use citric acid to clean a jetted soaking tub? We just bought a home (15 years old) with a jetted tub and I want to sanitize the jets.

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