Unilever logo
Cleanipedia PH logo

Our Comprehensive Guide to Cleaning with Citric Acid

Are you ready to learn about the wonders of cleaning with citric acid? Check out our guide on how to use this compound to descale surfaces and remove stubborn dirt!


Reading Time: 5 minutes

Written by Eunice Samson

Cleaning with Citric Acid

If you love cleaning, you understand the incomparable feeling of smelling the fresh scent of lemon around your home. It’s simply satisfying to see a stack of spotless dishes and a freshly cleaned bathroom. It’s even more relaxing when you have that citric smell lingering in the air. It’s no wonder why many people stock kilos of calamansi to add to their natural cleaning products.

Now, if you want to learn tips for cleaning with citric acid, you’ve come to the right place. Today, we’ll show you how you can use this product descale surfaces, deodorize appliances, and even sanitize kitchen items.

Why Should You Start Cleaning with Citric Acid?

Citric acid may not be a staple in the average Filipino’s collection of cleaning materials. Even so, it has long been used as a household disinfectant and cleaner because of its efficiency as a chelating agent.[1] 

Chelation involves forming a bond between the molecule and metal ions. Because rust and hard water stains contain metal components, citric acid binds the metals and breaks up their materials. Consequently, these stubborn stains dissolve easily in water.[2]

To put it simply, lime and calcium in hard water bind to citric acid. Certain cleaning products contain this ingredient. But if you use the compound in higher concentrations, you can get rid of mineral deposits on appliances and surfaces.


According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, citric acid is generally safe to use.[3] However, be careful when using this compound because you’ll be dealing with it in powder form. Without proper protective gear, you might breathe in the dust and experience throat and nose irritation. Before handling the product, wear high-quality rubber gloves, mask, and eye protection.

Image of a woman cleaning with citric acid
The Poll

Would you be more likely to buy a Cleaning or Laundry product that had a QR code visible on the pack over a product without a QR code? 

0 Votes

What to Prepare When Using Citric Acid as a Household Cleaner?

  • Citric acid powder

  • Distilled water

  • Spray bottle

  • Measuring spoons and cups

  • Sponge

How to Make Your Citric Acid Cleaning Solution

You’ll get about eight percent citric acid from freshly squeezed lemon juice. So, for general household cleaning, about the same concentration would suffice. Here are the steps in creating your citric acid cleaning solution:

  1. Take your spray bottle and pour a cup of hot water into it.

  2. Add a tablespoon of citric acid.

  3. Close the bottle and shake it well.

How to Use Citric Acid for Cleaning Around the House

Here are some of the ways you can start cleaning with citric acid around your home:

Using Citric Acid for Cleaning Kitchen Surfaces

  1. Take your citric acid solution and spray lightly on your kitchen counter.

  2. Use a microfiber cloth or sponge to get rid of stains, dirt, or smudges.

  3. Wipe down the area with a dry cloth.

Removing Toilet Bowl Ring

  1. Pour about a tablespoon of citric acid powder into the bowl.

  2. Use your toilet brush to swish the powder around.

  3. Let the solution sit for about 20 minutes.

  4. If stubborn stains remain, use your toilet brush to remove them.

  5. Flush the toilet to rinse the citric acid solution.

Descaling Faucets and Shower Heads

  1. Soak your shower heads in your citric acid solution for about 24 hours. 

  2. For your faucets, take a microfiber cloth and dampen it with your citric acid solution. Wrap the cloth around the faucet and leave it there for about 24 hours.

  3. If you still see hard water stains, use a brush to get rid of them.

  4. Rinse your shower heads and faucets with water.

Deodorizing Your Microwave 

  1. In a microwaveable container, mix two tablespoons of citric acid powder with two cups of water.

  2. Put the container in your microwave and heat it until you see the solution boiling. 

  3. Let the steam sit in the microwave for about five minutes.

  4. Remove the container and use a microfiber cloth to wipe the mess away.

Sanitizing Your Kitchen Items

Citric acid also has antibacterial properties. So, you can use it to sanitize your kitchen utensils, chopping boards, and other cooking tools. Here are the steps:

  1. Wash your kitchen items thoroughly.

  2. Sprinkle citric acid powder onto the items and let it sit for about ten minutes.

  3. Use hot water to rinse the citric acid off the kitchen tools.

  4. Dry the items using a microfiber cloth.

Cleaning Mirrors and Windows

  1. Lightly spray your citric acid solution onto the glass surface.

  2. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe away the smudges or dirt.

  3. Spray the solution again and use a squeegee to clean the glass without leaving streaks.

Image of lemons

Wrapping Up

While cleaning with citric acid is not common in Filipino households, it’s still something you can possibly do. You’ll rarely find the compound on grocery shelves. Even so, you can easily purchase it online—just be sure to wear protective gear when using it.

For more cleaning hacks and tips, read through Cleanipedia’s blog posts!

Frequently Asked Questions About Citric Acid

Q: Can you buy citric acid in the supermarket?

In the Philippines, citric acid is rarely sold in supermarkets. However, you can buy it from industry suppliers or online shops.

Q: What is citric acid in pH?

The pH level of citric acid is between 3 to 6.

Q: Is citric acid better than vinegar?

While both are acids, citric acid is a milder cleaning agent. So, if your goal is effective cleaning, vinegar would be the better option.

Q: Is citric safe in cleaning products?

Citric acid is usually used as an ingredient in many cleaning products. However, if you’re buying it in powder form, make sure to wear protective gear when handling the compound. Otherwise, you might experience skin, respiratory, and eye irritation.

Q: What not to clean with citric acid?

Never use citric acid on marble, stone, and granite surfaces. The compound reacts with the minerals in these materials, causing eventual corrosion.


1. Shinta, Y. C., Zaman, B., & Sumiyati, S. (2021). Citric Acid and EDTA as chelating agents in phytoremediation of heavy metal in polluted soil: a review. IOP Conference Series, 896(1), 012023. https://doi.org/10.1088/1755-1315/896/1/012023 

2. Xu, D., Wan, J., Luo, T., Zhong, Y., Yang, X., Yang, L., Zhang, Z., & Wang, X. (2019). Chelation of metal ions with citric acid in the ammoniation process of wet‐process phosphoric acid. The Canadian Journal of Chemical Engineering, 98(3), 665–675. https://doi.org/10.1002/cjce.23646

3. R.E.D Facts: Citric Acid. (1992). Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances. United States Environmental Protection Agency. [PDF] https://www3.epa.gov/pesticides/chem_search/reg_actions/reregistration/fs_G-23_1-Jun-92.pdf

Originally published