Citric acid sounds intimidating, but you’re probably more familiar with it than you think. Chemically speaking, citric acid is an organic compound with the formula C6H8O7.
But what is citric acid in practical terms, and can it be used for cleaning? Let’s find out!
What Is Citric Acid?
Citric acid is an organic compound that commonly occurs in citrus-based fruits like lemons and limes.
It is a popular cleaner because it can remove harmful bacteria, it can eliminate mildew, and can be used as a general disinfectant around the home.
In addition to this, citric acid is very good at removing limescale that is caused by hard water.
So, where does citric acid come from?
There are two main ways to get citric acid:
- Naturally – The first way you can get citric acid is to source it naturally. This kind of citric acid typically comes from fruits like lemons and limes, and is harmless to humans, unless they’re eaten in vast quantities.
- Artificially – The second way you can get citric acid is by manufacturing it. This is how a huge amount of citric acid is created around the world! Manufactured citric acid is created through a fermentation process, and this process involves the mould aspergillus niger metabolising a product like glucose. The end result of this entire process is a by-product known as citric acid.
Of course, it’s worth pointing out that while citric acid is safe, you should avoid digesting too much of the natural product, because it may make you sick.
And you should really avoid eating the manufactured version, just in case you get side effects.
Can You Use Citric Acid When Cleaning?
Yes, you can use citric acid when cleaning your home.
It’s a non-toxic item that can remove some of the toughest dirt in your house, and it’s not too expensive to get hold of citric acid either! It’s an all-round great product.
Manufactured citric acid is also an ingredient in several well-known cleaning items. For example, you can sometimes come across this citric acid in dishwasher cleaners and multipurpose bathroom cleaners.
So, you might’ve been using it around your house without knowing anyway.
How Do You Use Citric Acid When Cleaning?
You should always follow the instructions on the packaging of the product you intend on buying.
The label will advise you on how much product to use, when to use the item, and if you need to take any additional steps before working with the citric acid.
But in general, if you want to use citric acid as a spray cleaner you need to pop two to three teaspoons of citric acid in a spray bottle, and then fill the rest of the bottle up with warm water.
This type of mixture would allow you to spray and wipe down the surfaces in your home, to clean your oven’s racks, and to wash your taps, to name a few examples.
For other treatments you will need to adjust the above measurements and methods.
What Can You Clean with Citric Acid?
Citric acid has great cleaning power and it is quite safe to use around a home, which is why it is usually a go-to-product with cleaners.
But what’s better than this is that it can tackle tough limescale.
Limescale can torment a lot of homes that have hard water running through their pipes, because mineral deposits and blockages are left behind! But with a quick citric acid treatment, a lot of household goods can be restored to their former glory.
In addition to this, treating goods that are plagued by limescale also protects their longevity, and in many cases, a quick clean with citric acid improves the performance of many appliances in a home.
You can use citric acid to clean the following:
- Oven racks
- Toilet bowls
- Steam irons
- Drinking glasses
- Treating rusty tools
- Washing machines
- Treating stains on clothes
What Can’t You Clean with Citric Acid?
You should avoid using citric acid to clean the following surfaces:
- Paving slabs
- Tiles made from stone
- Marble kitchen worktops
- Waxed items
- Quartz kitchen worktops
- Unsealed tiles
- Wooden items
- Electronic devices
Where Can You Buy Citric Acid?
You can pick up citric acid in stores like:
- Hardware stores
- Some supermarkets
- And online at Amazon
It’s not uncommon for shops to sell their own brand of citric acid, so if you’re having trouble finding it in a store, ask someone for help!
Is Citric Acid Better Than Vinegar When Cleaning?
Both citric acid and vinegar are natural and safe cleaners, and they are both good at cleaning items around the home. However, they both have their drawbacks.
Some people prefer to work with citric acid because it’s more convenient to locate a lemon in a shop, and it smells better.
But other people like to use vinegar because it’s a tough-sounding traditional cleaner that contains acetic acid.
It’s up to you to decide what you’d rather use because both citric acid and vinegar are great at cleaning your home.
Although, you should keep in mind that these products will never remove 100% of the bacteria in your home, so for a more thorough clean you should use a scientifically tested product.
For more information, see our comparison of vinegar and citric acid for cleaning.
Bethan has a passion for exploring, reading, cooking and gardening! When she’s not creating culinary delights for her family, she’s concocting potions to keep her house clean!