We Get Greener Kit Cassingham & her Bigger Half

Natural Cleaning Products

One of my readers wrote me some time ago, in response to my article on eco-friendly cleaning, about how he makes her own orange peel cleaner. My response was to say I'd make my own, experiment with it a bit, and report to you guys.

Well, that hasn't happened in the three months since I got his note. So, I'm going to share his action, and recipe, and let you do your own experiments and report back to me. Nice change of pace, eh?

Mati F and Israel's Maariv newspaper get credit for this information.

Mati wrote:

I recently found your blog entry on Eco-friendly cleaning, and noticed that you don't have an item I use for difficult grime.

You take orange peels, and boil them for a while to get a strong cleaner that can cut through all but the worst grime, including grease. I got this from the Green column in one of the weekend papers, and have had extremely good results, and it costs practically nothing (water and gas/electricity).

Orange Peel Cleaner Ingredients
Fresh Oranges
fresh, organic oranges
Orange Peel
orange peels

I replied with:

In the US we can buy orange-based cleaners, but it never occurred to me to make mine. Do you have proportions of ingredients to share? How much water for how much peel?

Mati's quick response was:

Proportions of ingredients, are essentially as little water as possible for the amount of orange peel. This can be achieved in several different ways, the easiest being to cut the orange outer peel off of the orange as thinly as possible. You can also (this is according to the newspaper I got it from, though I've never tried it myself) dehydrate the peel, which means you don't have to use it immediately. It will never be as strong as the commercial ones (the one I can buy here is very expensive and chock full of chemicals to make it stronger and to preserve it), but it's strong enough.

I've experimented with other citrus fruit, and discovered that pink grapefruit peel works, but not as well as orange, lemon peel works approximately as well and oroblanco (a cross between a white grapefruit and a pomelo) peel is no good. You can try others, see how they compare...

This sounds like an excellent replacement to my Magic Kleaner. Let me know how you like it. And I'll do the same, when I get to it.


Great sound, cost-efficient alternatives to the toxic and potentially lethal household cleaning products.

House Cleaning Orange County at February 15, 2011 8:33 PM

It seems I forgot to say this anywhere in the correspondence: You know that it's ready when it takes on a deep color (which color it is, depends on the peel you use), and your kitchen starts smelling really good. You can leave it to cook for longer, I've never ruined a batch by leaving it on the stove too long, but there's a limit to the strength you can get so don't leave it for *too* long.

Mati F at February 25, 2011 12:37 AM

I fixed the problem before adding this comment. Mati wrote to let me know I'd made a small error in this article. Mati is a man, not a woman. I personally don't call that a small mistake.

I replied I'd wondered about that, and then with a winky face said "After all, men don't care two hoots about cleaning." And then bowed to my cultural lesson for the day.

He graciously replied, "That's okay, here people make the opposite mistake. They can see I'm a man and so they assume I can't (or won't) clean... I don't like the whole "gender roles" thing anyway. I do my share of the cleaning, and when a (female) friend of mine in the army wanted to become a car mechanic I supported her until she got it..."

I love seeing people follow their bliss, but especially when it crosses those gender lines. Thanks for sharing all of this Mati. And thanks again for the recipe.


Kit Cassingham at February 25, 2011 9:46 AM

I *finally* made Mati's orange cleaning solution. Well, my housekeeper did. I thought you might like to learn what we have learned from it.
- when added to the vinegar water we use for cleaning the bamboo floors it makes the floors squeaky and a bit slick (not to be used anymore in the floor solution so we don't slip down the stairs)
- it smells great!
- it cleans well, adding a boost to the products we already use
- it molds in the jar, probably not a good thing so we need to go back to the drawing board; I'll try it again this winter

My feeling is that since oranges aren't native to Colorado it's not the best of environmentally friendly cleaning products. But we like the natural ingredient aspect of it, and it lasts a long time since we don't use it straight.

Thanks, Mati!

Kit Cassingham at November 2, 2012 3:35 PM

It actually works very well for stairs when used straight. It also lasts for quite a while when used straight, because you still use very small amounts. Dampen a small area of a floor rag with the stuff, and it will do wonders for your floors.

Mati at June 19, 2013 5:10 AM

Mati, do you think combining it with vinegar made for the slipperiness? My housekeeper does use more product than I do, so you may have hit on the other side of the problem -- too much solution on the floor. I didn't like the squeakiness and the slipperiness on the stairs scared me.

There's so much to learn!

Kit Cassingham at August 14, 2013 4:50 PM

I tend to find the surfaces are somewhat less slippery than normal after being cleaned with this solution.

Some internet research turned up a second method, where instead of 10-20 min in boiling water you soak the peels in vinegar, and one site says this is "more slippery" than plain vinegar.

I never noticed any squeakiness, but that could be me.

Given that the cleaner is basically a solution of the essential oils from the orange peels it is possible that that could be related to the slipperiness. Might be worth checking...

As to your thought that it's not so eco-friendly, if you eat the oranges the peels exist, so while eating oranges may not be eco-friendly, reusing their peels is as eco-friendly as you can get.

Mati at September 3, 2013 3:05 AM


I'm at a disadvantage since I didn't make the solution. Your thought that the essential oils are related to the slipperiness, and even squeakiness, is where I went in my thoughts. If you don't have a shoe-free house you might miss the squeaky aspect.

The floors seemed very clean, and the house smelled really good. I just found a batch that I didn't know I had so I'll be playing with it again.

Kit Cassingham at November 20, 2013 8:53 PM
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