Saturday, March 12, 2022

Spring Cleaning with Oranges and Grapefruits


It's a funny thing, spring: as those first March and April showers splash down on the budding plants outside, we feel a surge of energy as we look around our homes and get motivated to thrust open the windows, roll up our sleeves, vacuum, wipe, sweep and shake out the settled winter dust, and make everything fresh and sparkling.  We run to the grocery store and stock up on cleaning detergents, solvents, degreasers, de-crudders, dusters, and fresheners. Many of the name brand cleaners boast enticing, all-natural tag lines with such alluring phrases as "with the cleaning power of orange oil!" or "natural citrus power!" Here in the citrus business, we can't help but smile knowingly.  Oranges and grapefruits rival their better-known cleaning cousin--lemons--for their ability to both clean and deodorize. They don't have to be paired with harsh, environmentally unfriendly chemicals often found in most brand-name cleaners, nor are they nearly as expensive to use.

What Makes Citrus So Good at Cleaning?

The rind of citrus fruit is the concentrated storage unit for some really potent--and yet safe and environmentally friendly--cleaning compounds. We've already discussed the power of the flavonoids concentrated in orange and grapefruit peels for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Turns out, one of the main flavonoids, called d-limonene, is also a remarkable dirt and grease solvent, and is the primary essential oil that gives citrus fruits their signature bright, enlivening aroma that one equates with a clean and fresh household. In addition, the acidic nature of citrus makes it particularly effective at cleaning up stains and residues from things like fruit juices, coffee, lipstick, wine, and sweat, and also rust and limescale. Vitamin C has antibacterial properties as well; while it won't kill microorganisms outright like harsher cleaners might, it actually creates an environment that is hostile to these pathogens, so that they cannot thrive nor replicate. This is a great approach in the kitchen, as citrus can clean surfaces and subdue harmful bacteria and viruses without introducing endocrine-damaging chemical toxins to our foods and food-preparation surfaces.

Let's Get Cleaning!

Here are some great household uses for your oranges and grapefruits.  Remember, the magnitude of their cleaning power is directly proportional to the quality and freshness of the fruit you use. Here at Florida Fruit Shippers, we guarantee that you will have the freshest and highest quality fruits around, with the most concentrated levels of germ-busting, aroma-enhancing flavonoids and vitamins!

General Household Cleaner: It's easy to make a highly effective household cleaner with orange rinds, vinegar, and a few extra ingredients if you want to add them.  You'll need a quart-sized jar with a lid (like a recycled spaghetti sauce jar), an empty spray bottle from a previous cleaning solution or purchased new, distilled white vinegar, rinds from 4-6 peeled oranges (grapefruits would work too), cheesecloth, and, if desired, some herbs like rosemary. Pack the jar with your orange rinds, add rosemary or other herbs if desired, and fill the jar with vinegar.  Seal lid tightly. Store in a cool, dry, dark area such as your pantry for 4-8 weeks.  The longer you let it sit, the more the oils from the rind will infuse into the vinegar, and the darker the solution will become.  After the storage period, pour the amber-colored solution through a strainer or cheesecloth to fill a spray bottle halfway, and then fill the rest with water. You now have a cleaning solution that can tackle surfaces like stovetops, toilets, countertops, sinks, tile or linoleum floors, carpet stains, and even glass!  Because it is acidic, however, it is not recommended for granite, quartz, or marble counters, or on hardwood floors.

Bathroom Buster: Got a dirty bathroom? Grab a grapefruit! Simply cut it in half, eat the delicious fruit inside, salt the remaining pithy inedible parts generously, and voila: you have a versatile bathroom scrubber. It cuts tough bathtub rings, dissolves shower, sink, and countertop soap scum and water mineral stains, and removes toothpaste residue with ease.

Clothes Protection: In addition to making a wonderful household cleaner, oranges have another superpower: they repel bugs! No one likes the smell of mothballs, but who doesn't love the enticing aroma of oranges and cloves?  Ditch the mothballs and insert clove studs all over the peel of a whole orange.  Tie a string or decorative ribbon around your creation and hang anywhere you need to protect clothes from moths.

Fire Ant Removal: Fire ants are an invasive, destructive species. If you need to take care of a fire ant problem, don't add chemicals to the environment.  Orange oil is one of the only proven natural, environmentally-friendly solutions. Simply peel a bunch of oranges and place the peels in a blender with enough water to create a puree.  When you blend the mixture, the orange essential oils are released and, when poured onto a fire ant hill, say goodbye to the fire ants. Best of all, you'll still have the delicious fruit of your oranges to enjoy!

Clean Inside and Out

We already know that both oranges and grapefruits from Florida Fruit Shippers make for some clean and healthy eating. Now you can also use them for a clean and healthy household. 

Happy Spring!


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