Spring cleaning the kitchen (homemade lemon-scented cleaner)

spring cleaning with natural ingredients on simplebites.net

If anyone thinks that my kitchen is always spotless, with perfectly polished stemware, gleaming counters, and an neat silverware drawer, think again. Like you, I also battle paper clutter, have charcoal buildup on the bottom of my oven, and that silverware drawer? Full of crumbs.

Oh, and there’s a daily collision of dishes in the sink.

sink and sunshine

Honestly, it was the fresh tulips and the sunshine that saved me that day. I’m holding out for Spring, but she is toying with us up here.

I had hoped to tackle a few problem areas in the kitchen last week over spring break, but who was I kidding? Instead we had unseasonably warm weather and I kept busy with three kiddos. We went tobogganing, lunched with friends, and hiked through the forest looking for signs of spring.

We also cooked together, a lot, and we planned for and partied through, Clara’s first birthday. Cleaning, as per usual, got bumped to the back burner.

Do you carry out a deep clean in your kitchen each spring? I rather feel as though I should, but I can never settle on that ‘free’ day to follow through. To be fair, I keep my pantry and (most) cupboards in tip-top shape, thanks to containerization and storing food in jars, so they are not the problem. I also stay on top of refrigerator organization, although the front door and handle are on the sticky side. Again.

My obvious trouble zones are the stove/oven, cupboard fronts and counter-top sprawl, windows, and those pesky Tupperware drawers – I have two, so twice the mess.

These areas cannot afford to be ignored, so I’ve decided to tackle them one at a time, here and there over the next month. I can surely fit 20 minutes of cleaning into my day, into my week, and I challenge you to do the same.

homemade lemon-scented all-purpose cleaner

Today’s short task is disinfecting counters. I have a thing for spotless counters; they are as satisfying as freshly washed hair. I know my cats jump on my counters when I’m not looking. It wigs me out just thinking about the bacteria left behind.

I’m also cleaning behind the toaster, moving the canisters, and wiping up the flour under the Kitchen Aid. It’s an easy job that yields fast results. The Tupperware sprawl can stay locked up in a drawer for a bit longer- this weekend I’m enjoying shining counters.

This all-natural, homemade disinfectant will have your kitchen counters gleaming in no time. Plus, the fresh lemon scent will perfume your kitchen beautifully.

The recipe is adapted from Tsh’s all-purpose household cleaner in her book, Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living, a handy resource for spring cleaning if there ever was one.

Homemade Lemon-Scented All-Purpose Cleaner
4.3 from 3 reviews
Recipe type: Cleaning Supplies
Prep time:
Total time:
Making your own cleaning supplies is cheaper than buying them, healthier for you, and better for the environment. Get started with this simple all-purpose cleaner and you'll have your kitchen smelling fresh in no time.
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons baking soda
  • 1 liter (4 cups) of hot water
  • 1/2 a lemon
  1. In a small bucket or 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup, combine vinegar, baking soda and hot water.
  2. Squeeze in the juice from half a lemon then drop the rind in as well to infuse the cleaner.
  3. Stir well to dissolve the baking soda and allow to cool. Remove the lemon rind.
  4. Transfer into a spray bottle or squeeze bottle and label clearly. Your homemade cleaner is ready to use.


What are a few ‘trouble zones’ in your kitchen? Do you tend to knock them off one-by-one or schedule a big cleaning day?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. Karin - The F Girl says:

    I woke up with all kinds of good intentions today. About cleaning and sewing and cooking and being all fresh and organized. Right now ofcourse I am still sitting in my pyjamas reading this, but ignore that fact 😉 Thanks for the recipe. I am surely going to try it out!

  2. Can I just say, “Thank you!” for posting your messy kitchen photo? I try not to play the comparison game, but like everyone else I do wonder how others seem to stay so “on top” of dishes, when my kitchen looks like that picture at least twice a week (usually on big cooking/baking days). Thanks for keeping it real (as I think all you SLM writers try to do!) I will attempt to clean along with you!

  3. If I might just submit a constructive criticism…when you mix baking soda and vinegar they react to produce carbon dioxide gas and water. In this case the amounts you are using would leave very little (if any) of these two ingredients left to do any cleaning, so you are essentially cleaning with hot water and lemon. If you want to preserve the anti bacterial properties of the vinegar, leave out the baking soda. It’s just a waste to put them in there together. :). Thank you so much for this post and reminding me that on my days of frustration with my kitchen, it’s actually pretty normal. :).
    Signed, Kym (Coffeemomma)….a High School Chemistry teacher

    • AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME! Thank you so much for saying that!

    • Jill G says:

      You are spot on Kym. I wondered, was the baking soda added so there would be some abrasion – but no sanitation?

      Another option to this is: 50/50 vinegar/water and a few drops of lemon essential oil. $5 for lemon oil and you could make 20+ batches.

  4. I break up cleaning into small segments to be done Monday thru Friday. My cleaning schedule is set up to get through the whole house, including the basement, in 2 weeks. So, for instance, on a Monday, I might be cleaning my bedroom (which means dusting all surfaces, vacuuming, washing floors, etc.), and then I will go through the house and “touch” every other room – just picking stuff up, maybe wiping down a bathroom mirror with windex, etc. I leave the weekends to do any organizing projects or just to hang out. I do my laundry this way too, but I am on a one-week cycle for that (clothes get done on Mondays and Thursdays, bed sheets on Tuesdays, ironing on Wednesdays, and towels on Fridays). Thanks to Kym for the quick chemistry lesson – sounds like vinegar will do the trick. Wondering – can this clean your bathrooms too? Is it powerful enough to do toilets and showers?

  5. Loved the messy sink photo. What mine looks like each day with preparing snacks and meals for 6-8 kids. Also have been going more and more homemade and “green” in cleaning supplies over the last few years. Use and love this recipe. What I have changed up is using orange for the lemon. We eat way more oranges and not wanting to waste the peels started saving them in white vinegar. The vinegar infuses with the orange oil and I can then use for multiple purposes one being this all-purpose cleaner.

  6. Thank you for this post! I have been looking fo a good homemade cleaning I and finally found it! So excited to give this a try!

  7. One-by-one for me. I’m waiting for the day when it’s warm enough to crack the windows and doors and run the oven self clean cycle (a spring chore for me that can get a little smokey after a loooong winter). As for the rest of spring cleaning, I’m trying the 1 thing a day approach. For example, one day I cleaned all of the interior windows, their sills, and dust the blinds (something I definitely don’t do often). Of course, if I have a regular cleaning task on that day, I don’t do an extra “spring clean” chore. Slowly but surely, I’m getting through my list!

  8. I feel like my kitchen is always a disaster. I do whole food, from scratch cooking, and it seems to use up a lot of dishes! Add soaking grains, beans and nuts on the counter, and it seems never-ending! So thank you for your messy kitchen photo!

    My problem area is the cupboard that holds our pots and pans. It seems like they just get thrown in there and I shut the door – then have to dig when I need a specific pot or pan.

    I try to use mostly vinegar and baking soda to clean, I think it works really well. But, lemon in the kitchen is nice! Thanks for the recipe! I never thought about throwing the rind in after you juice it – excellent idea!

  9. I need to make this! Time for spring cleaning!

  10. I bet that makes it smell MUCH better! Come on Spring!!!!

  11. Making your own cleanser sounds like fun!

  12. I feel like I am ALWAYS in the kitchen, I practically live there. It’s a never-ending cooking cleaning thing. I am glad I am not alone! In the photo I see that you use Trader Joe’s hand soap….me too!!!!!!! The homemade cleaner is great, I will definitely try it. My cleaning day is usually on Fridays, I like to knock it all out instead of spreading cleaning tasks over multiple days.

  13. I LOVE this Aimee! Bookmarking this now!

  14. Jan @ Family Bites says:

    You must have known that my kitchen is a complete mess right now! Thanks for the inspiration to get cleaning this weekend.

  15. I am planning a spring cleaning extravaganza around here! I am totally whippin this up- what a cool alternative to all of the chemicals!

  16. Such a great idea and one we will certainly try in our home too!

  17. Margery Hilburn says:

    Do the acids (vinegar & lemon juice) just react with the baking soda, similar to that homemade volcano reaction? I think they would fizz everywhere and then die out. I would like to find a good homemade cleaner that doesn’t smell like vinegar. I’ve tried homemade cleaners for a year, and have given up because of the strong vinegar smell.

  18. I can’t love this more! I hate those gross chemicals and the smell! This would be THE perfect alternative!! Thank you for sharing :)

  19. Yay! I can’t wait to try this out. I’ve been using a mixture of vinegar and water for a long time now but James can’t stand them smell. This looks like the perfect solution (pun intended). 😉
    The last couple years it seems that my spring cleaning is really just packing up the whole house and moving, and trying to leave it as clean as possible for the next person. That’s where we are again right now. We’re moving at the end of next week so this post came at the perfect time for me!

  20. I’ve been using this cleaner for several years……It came from a blogger but, I can’t remember which one. I am a avid cook and dispite many attempts to have a spotless kitchen. However many a visitor has commented that they wished their kitchen smelled as tasty as mine. We all have our strenghts. I haven’t given up . My biggest success is that I won’t start my cooking without a spotless counter. It help,since I am cooking or baking at least once a day

  21. I am definitely going to make this. I always wanted to go ” chemical free” with my home cleaning system. Thank you for sharing this.

  22. I need to do this, too! I’ll try the challenge, and the first thing I need to do (which has literally been bothering me for months), is the cabinet under the kitchen sink!

  23. Elizabeth says:

    I always found Spring Cleaning to be much more enjoyable when I focused mostly on making the windows sparkle and getting all the draperies and bedding out for a good washing and outdoor drying after all winter. Such a glorious smell! Then, in September, or as soon as the air becomes bit crisper, I am really in the mood to deep clean before we hibernate again…the kiddies were back in school and it seemed possible to maintain it a bit longer! But then, I live on the East Coast of Canada…our springs are late and short.

  24. My kitchen gets a very deep clean every year around this time. During the two weeks before Passover it must be very deeply cleaned so that no “bread” is left in the kitchen or any other part of the house during the holiday. We even have to use different plates, silverware, and cookware during the holiday. So My kitchen gets completley emptied out of stuff, deep cleaned, shelf paper changed etc. It’s a fabulous way to stay on top of things, because then after the holiday I slowly bring back the stuff as I use it and make sure it’s organized and useful. It’s like a mini move every year. I can’t say it’s fun- and it probably wouldn’t get done if it wasn’t commanded of me- but I have to admit I feel GREAT when it’s done.

  25. Normally my spouse is my primary stove top cleaner–he can’t stand to see the mess on it (I am apparently made of stronger stuff LOL). I do a deep clean now and then, primarily when company is coming over. I don’t know about kitchen volcanos for cleaning–but I use vinegar sparingly on my granite countertops to remove the hard water stains around the faucet, then clean with soap and water. I love the idea for lemon.

    What really struck me, Aimee, was the phrase “warm weather” with the verb “tobogganing” in the same sentence. Whoa! I think of different outdoor activities when the weather warms up!


  26. My kitchen seems to stay cluttered. As soon as I get it clean someone needs to come in and fix something. And of course when they clean it never seems to be clean enough for me. I love the idea of putting the rind in to cut the vinegar smell. Thanx for sharing

  27. Oh gosh that filled sink looks pretty familiar, especially after recipe testing! I love your homemade cleaner I don’t like to use harsh chemicals when I’m cleaning so vinegar and baking soda are my go-tos.

  28. Hey Aimee I would like to say a big thanks to you because I know and I understand kitchen cleaning is a job which we have to do everyday. When I am going through your blog I found many useful tips for cleaning which is really useful for me. Now I’ll not waste my money by purchasing disinfectant because I’ll use this method now on wards.

  29. I would like to say big thanks to you for generating this lemon cleaner for everyone. I agree with your post because I know I have to clean my kitchen every day even more than three times in a day. For sure I’ll use this cleaning agent and it saves my money, which I spent on purchasing cleaning agents…..

  30. I am an independent housekeeper in Austin, TX and picked up a gig this week cleaning up between SXSW tennants in short term rentals, which is supposed to be a high deal of turnover. Rather than spend 100’s on supplies, this is one that I’m trying out. Making all the homemade stuff tonight and trying on my own place to see how I like them.

    Will keep ya posted…my bank account and budget thanks you ahead of time!!!

  31. Hey Aimee, I’m glad to read your blog and you discussed about a good solution for common issue for everyone. Making our own lemon scented cleaner is good idea and useful to clean everything. After getting through your post I found it useful and I hope everyone must come to your blog because everyone need it. Thanks for sharing your exvellent idea with us.

  32. Yes, it’s not an easy task to keep your home kitchen perfectly neat and clean. I must say it’s like a war we have to fight in the kitchen with utensils and many other accessories used in the kitchen. We have to keep all utensils neat and clean so that they shine like mirror. We also have to wash and clean all crockery like cups, plate and dinner set etc. So keep your kitchen clean, neat and hygienic. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  33. Kitchen cleaning is most difficut task because in kitchen we can find more stains. This is really good idea, by using lemon we can find better solution for stains. I’ll do this at the time of my kitchen cleaning. Thanks for sharing this post here and keep sharing such a nice posts…..

  34. I love reading about DIY projects! The idea for home made natural cleaner is more than amazing! Thanks a lot for sharing the recipe! I will try it at home!

  35. Thanks for the great and helpful article :)

  36. Incredible cleaning recipe here! Thank you so much for sharing! I will definitely try this amazing and natural cleaning recipe! East Finchley Carpet Cleaners Ltd.

  37. I love using natural cleaning products! I make my own all purpose cleaner too. The difference between your and mine recipe is that I do not put baking soda but I put some essential oils. I will try add some baking soda! Thank you for writing in so attractive way!

  38. This is so great. I love the scent of lemon and now I can smell it while I’m cleaning thanks to you. Thanks for sharing your article and helping all of us. I will share it with my friends <3

  39. Michael Morrison says:

    I showed the article to my wife and she kicked me out of my own computer (I don’t mind). You write really well and she saved you to favorites. That’s why I read it as well and now I can see why she did that. Thanks for sharing and helping us live cleaner :)

  40. I have tried and it work.
    Also there is another great tip.

    After finishing your lemon, use it to clean your bathroom taps and sjower taps etc.
    Rinise it after 10 mins and see it will turn brand new!

  41. Erika Bundle says:

    First of all: Fantastic article!

    Second: I love my kitchen (like really) and I try to keep it clean at all times, but it’s hard with 3 men in the house (husband and two boys). I have to say they help me sometimes but it’s still the kitchen – gets messy easily. If everything is spotless and the sink is full it’s enough to look like the whole house is a mess.

    Third: Your tips and recipes are amazing and very helpful to me and everyone else for sure. Thank you for being awesome and sharing your experience with us.

  42. I’m trying to clean as natural as possible and your recipe seems to work perfectly good for m. Thank you for the good idea and the tips you give. Greets!

  43. Dolph Hoover says:

    Well that’s a relief… I’ve read somewhere recently that vinegar and baking soda was a good cleaning solution for carpets but I began to doubt it’s scent because of the vinegar. Thank goodness someone posted lemonade as an additional ingredient.

  44. I’m making changes to a more nature friendly and sustainable lifestyle, so thank you so much for sharing this! I would honestly never think of using a lemon for cleaning!

  45. I am very excited when I find a new recipe for a household cleaner! I love the scent o lemon and I trust baking soda and vinegar absolutely! I am sure that the cleaner is awesome. I am having a cleaning weekend this week and I am excited to try some new recipes! Thank you for sharing!

  46. Theresa Brooks says:

    This is exactly what I need! Some easy to make natural cleaning spray for every day use! I hate dust and I go around spraying vinegar for cleaning the dust but the smell is not so nice. Thanks for sharing! :)

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