Surely you’ve heard the platitude, “Waste not, want not.” Composting all my kitchen scraps and repurposing them for another use surely qualifies as not wasting, right? Turning all those bits of food into a super nutritious food for my veggies and plants is recycling in the best possible way, right? So, why was I feeling a bit of guilt? Citrus guilt to be exact. See this pile:
It’s just the remains of a typical smoothie making morning for the kids. We love oranges and grapefruits, tangerines, and lemons and limes. Plus, each day I drink this funky concoction of half a lemon, hot water, a teaspoon or so of apple cider vinegar, and a generous glug of honey. It’s apparently good for digestion and I’ve gotten used to its weird, sweet, nose stinging scent in the morning. (Don’t worry, I follow it with some good old tea. See yesterday’s post.)
Anyway, all that adds up to a lot of citrus surplus. My clay soil is already acidic and here I was adding lots more. Citrus peels, I was regularly reading, would be better put to use making my own citrus cleaner instead of being tossed without a care on a compost heap.
So I bought a functional carafe with a cork lid from Ikea, enough white distilled vinegar to last my entire life, and the grapefruit halves from breakfast. I dutifully removed any juicy bits, stuffed the peels in the carafe, covered it in vinegar, and put it on the windowsill for two weeks.
Of course I checked it virtually every day for the first week and the smell was unbearable. I like vinegar in my salad, not so much in my house cleaning efforts. Still, undeterred, I continued to soak my citrus. Somewhere into week two it lost the overpowering vinegar
stench aroma and became if not pleasant, at least bearable. It was almost a nice whiff of citrus.
I decanted it into a scrubbed Method spray cleaner bottle (I didn’t want suspicious kids or relatives wondering what weird concoction I was using now. You see, I may have been known to put raw milk in the organic milk jug on occasion, but that is another story), I diluted it with water per directions, and poured the remaining concentrate into the giant mason jar for storage in the outside fridge. I even put a handwritten canning label on that mason jar.
Call me content. I wish I had a picture of my virtuous face. Fist pumps and three cheers for the self-sufficient housekeeper! I’ve earned my superhero DIY girl scout badge! I’m halfway to homesteader!
And then I used it. Hmmm… Did I say I LOVE Method products? I got rid of harsh chemicals in kitchen, bath, and laundry a LONG time ago and keep bleach around only for truly necessary jobs (like cleaning compost buckets). I had been happily using Method grapefruit counter spray for years and liked its fresh clean scent. (Disclosure: they are NOT paying me for this glowing review. I really do use, love, and recommend their products.) Anyway, how could a mass-produced, store-bought chemical solution compare to MY. OWN. HOMEMADE. CLEANER?
Well, it did not compare. Not in my scent snob book. I guess it got things clean enough. The counter felt a little filmy to me and the stainless was streaky (nothing new) but I was using MY. OWN. HOMEMADE. CLEANER. and that alone made it worth it.
A little vinegar smell? Well, okay, that was there. My son loudly let me know that the kitchen reeked. My daughter scrunched up her delicate nose and told me she could smell it but it was not too bad. And it wasn’t really. I moved on to the bathroom and it shined the fixtures nicely.
But I realized every time I left the house and came home, the overwhelming smell when I reentered the house was … gross. Not fresh. Not clean. I was wrinkling my own nose trying to figure out what I detected. Dog? No, more like the cover up of some rotting food. Maybe I had left some old oranges on the counter to mold. Maybe it was the built up smell of old vinegar. But, I thought, that smell is supposed to evaporate. Dissipate. Disappear.
Still confident in my superpowers I dutifully used up my grapefruit spray and even brewed another bottle of orange peels with thyme. They were so pretty fermenting on the counter and I had that virtuous glow again.
But that smell. It was dissipating all right and then collecting somewhere and LINGERING. And smacking me in the face when I walked in the door. Two nights ago, I poured the contents of that cleaner down the drain. I recycled the Method cleaning bottle and retired my carafe. I pulled out a fresh bottle of REAL Method and inhaled it’s lovely scent. I wiped down every surface in my kitchen.
Here is what I tossed. (Notice the bit in the spray bottle looks clumpy. I had added some castile soap after reading another post that I cannot find about how it really ups the cleaning power of the vinegar spray. Sorry, not for me. It’s just clumpy and note even pretty anymore.)
Today I put my citrus peels directly in the compost bucket. I will happily toss them on my compost pile later and know that come spring, when I lovingly top dress my acid-loving David Austin roses, they will soon be smelling sweetly. And so will my house. I’m using that cool carafe for sangria!