Using Citrus Acid At Home

Top 15 Citric Acid Uses At Home

Citric acid is a natural, safe, and low cost cleaner and multi purpose household ingredient, discover what it can be used for throughout your home or business!

What is citric acid?

Citric acid is an organic compound that occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables. It has been used for centuries to preserve food and prevent spoilage. Although citric acid is a naturally occuring compound,  it is not cost effective to extract large amounts of citric acid from fruits and vegetables. Ever since 1917, when American food chemist James Currie discovered that the mold Aspergillus niger could produce citric acid as a byproduct of metabolizing sucrose or glucose, citric acid has been safely produced by many companies, both large and small. 

Citric acid is a concentrated powder that is known for its sour flavor, preservative quality, and ability to act as a pH buffer. For these reasons, citric acid is found on the ingredients list of many foods in your kitchen pantry. Citric acid is also commonly used to stabilize medicines and as a disinfectant. Citric acid is a safe and low cost ingredient that is already in many products around your home. 

Overview of Citric Acid Uses

Citric Acid in Food
By and large, citric acid is used primarily in food processing. It’s a flavor enhancer, a natural preservative, and it can also help facilitate the ripening process.

How Does Citric Acid Work in Food?  
Citric acid has an acidic PH between 3 and 6 and this is what makes it such an effective preservative. Many bacteria are unable to grow in an acidic environment and therefore citric acid is often added to jams, jellies, candy, canned foods, and even meat products as a preservative. Citric acid can also be used to adjust the PH level in products such as beer, wine, and ice cream. 

Citric Acid As A Cleaner
Citric acid lowers the pH levels of bacteria, allowing the cleaner to penetrate the cell walls of mold, mildew, and bacteria. All you have to do is spray it on the non-porous surface, give it a few minutes to do its thing, then wipe or rinse with water

Citric Acid in Wellness & Personal Care
Due to its diverse benefits, citric acid is popular in natural formulations where it can act as a pH adjuster and corrector and enhance the stability and shelf-life of products. Citric Acid also has known skincare benefits. It belongs to the AHA family of acids, which supports skin exfoliation to reveal a fresh and firmer complexion. It is also an antioxidant used in anti-aging applications.

The Top 15 Uses for Bulk Citric Acid Powder in Your Home

Cleaning and Disinfecting The Home or Business

1) Soap Scum and Hard Water Stains
Create a cleaning solution by adding one tablespoon of citric acid powder per one cup of hot water to a spray bottle. Shake well to mix. Spray the shower stall or tub and let the citric avoid solution soak for at least 10 minutes. Then rinse and clean as usual and your soap scum and hard water stains will be gone.

2) In the Laundry Room
Citric acid powder can work both as stain remover and a fabric softener in your laundry. 

To remove stains from white laundry, soak the stained clothes in a citric acid solution (1 Tbsp of citric acid powder for every quart of water) for at least 3 hours - preferably overnight. Then wash as usual for a brighter, fresher load of white clothes. 

To create a citric acid fabric softener add 5 tbsp of citric acid powder to one quart of water. Then add a few ounces in your fabric softener compartment as usual.

3) Citric Acid Dishwasher Cleaner
Hard water and mineral residue can build up inside your dishwasher and even clog the important cleaning jets inside. Use citric acid to keep the dishwasher clean and fresh. Even General Electric recommends using citric acid powder to routinely clean your dishwasher. Simply add 4 tbsp of the powder to the detergent cup and run a normal cycle with the dishwasher empty. 

4) Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Clean, brighten, and disinfect your toilet bowl using bulk citric acid. Simply add 3 tablespoons of citric acid powder to the toilet bowl water and leave it to sit for at least 2 hours. Scrub and flush and you’ll see a cleaner toilet bowl without the smell and danger of harsh toxic chemicals. 

5) Maker a Citric Acid All Purpose Cleaner
Create a fantastic non toxic and natural all purpose cleaner by adding 2 tbsp of citric acid powder to 1 quart of water in a spray bottle and shake well until combined. You now have a natural all purpose cleaner to use in the kitchen, bathroom, even outdoors on the patio. One note to be mindful of is to avoid using citric acid cleaner on natural stones such as granite or marble as they may cause damage.


6) Fresh Scent Window Cleaner
For a natural and fresh smelling window cleaner mix one tbsp citric acid powder with 8 oz of warm water into a spray bottle and shake well. Use as you would any other window or glass cleaner. I always use a washable and reusable microfiber cloth to wipe away dirt and smudges and cut down on paper towel costs and waste.

7) Coffee Makers
First, make a coffee maker cleaning solution by combining 2 tbsp of citric acid powder and 2 cups of water in the coffee pot and stir until the powder is dissolved. Second, pour the cleaning solution to fill the reservoir of your coffee machine and set it to brew. Once the brew cycle is complete throw out the cleaning solution and run 2 or 3 cycles of fresh clear water through the brew cycle to clear out any leftover citric acid. When done, not only will your coffee maker be clean but so will your coffee pot.

8) Kitchen Surface Sanitizer
Citric acid has antibacterial qualities that will help kill bacteria on many kitchen surfaces such as wood cutting boards, butcher block counters, or utensils and utensil holders. Disinfect kitchen surfaces using a solution of one tbsp of citric acid powder to 1 cup hot water. After washing, coat the surface with the citric acid solution and allow it to work for 10 minutes. Rinse the surfaces with hot water and dry well.


Using Citric Acid in Cooking

9) As a Salt Substitute
If you’re watching your sodium intake or you’re on a low salt diet citric acid can be used as a salt substitute. While often used in baking breads such as sourdough and rye, citric acid can also be used to replace salt in dry blend seasonings and added to candies or snacks. In general, you can substitute an equal amount of citric acid as a salt replacement. Some low salt dieters even add citric acid to a shaker and sprinkle it on unsalted snacks or fresh vegetables. Experiment and see what suits your tastes best while keeping your salt intake to a minimum.

10) Leavening Agent in Baking Powder
When citric acid is combined with baking powder, a chemical reaction occurs and carbon dioxide gas bubbles are created. This helps to improve the leavening, or rise, of baked goods. Citric acid is a helpful substitute in vegan baking that cannot rely on eggs or buttermilk to help with leavening. Most recipes that add citric acid call for ¼ tsp to be added the dry ingredients of any bread dough or cake batter.

11) Flavor Enhancer 
Citric acid can also be used in virtually any dish to add acid without adding liquid from vinegar or lemon juice. Home and professional cooks often add citric acid to dry rubs and spics mixes, and many cooks will also add a pinch or two to soup recipes. You can even add a half teaspoon of citric acid in sourdough bread recipes to kick up the tanginess

12) As a Natural Food Preservative
Because citric acid increases the pH or acidity level of foods, it works well as a preservative. It can be sprinkled on cut fruits and vegetables to keep them looking fresh or as a spray on many other foods. As a spray combine ½ tsp per quart of water. Many home and professional cooks keep a supply of citric acid handy to extend the shelf life of many of their dishes. Simply sprinkle on top of fresh and raw foods or for baked and cooked goods add a ¼ tsp to any recipe to add a few days of shelf life.

13) Citric Acid In Canning
Citric acid raises the acidity level of a food or solution it is added to and is ideal for use in home canning. Its use in home canning is endorsed by the USDA. 

When canning something in a boiling water bath, it is vital that that product be high in acid. The reason is that the presence of a concentrated amount of acid is what inhibits botulism spores from germinating into toxins. Many of the fruits we turn into jam are already high enough in acid on their own to be safe for canning, but some other ingredients will need an acid and pH adjustment to keep them safe. Tomatoes are a prime example of a fruit that needs to be acidified. Depending on the variety of tomato, they can sometimes have a pH (how we judge acid content) that is too high (the pH of the product needs to be below 4.6) and so that tomato product needs additional acid. Because most home canners aren’t working with a pH meter, it’s recommended that all tomatoes receive additional acid, because it’s impossible to judge acid content based on taste or appearance. 

Use citric acid instead of bottled lemon juice when canning.  As a rule, ¼ teaspoon citric acid = 1 tablespoon bottled lemon juice so it’s easy to swap out the lemon juice in canning for citric acid. A little citric acid goes a long way. It works out cheaper to use than bottled lemon juice: when you buy bottled lemon juice, you are paying for a lot of water, not to mention the shipping costs and storage space for that weight.


Use Citric Acid To Treat Yourself

14) Bath Bombs
Bath bombs are a great way to give yourself a little self care and down time after a long or difficult day, and citric acid is an important natural ingredient in a good quality bath bomb. But, a typical store bought bath bomb can cost between $5-$15 each, which can add up quickly. Fortunately, you don't have to spend all that money on this wonderful indulgence if you choose to make your own bath bombs at home. The process is simple (it takes just about 20 minutes, plus a day or two of drying time) and can be a relaxing and creative activity. You can also add variety and customize them over time with the scents and colors you like best. With this basic recipe, creating bath bombs is easy, and you'll be sudsing in a wonderful scented bath in no time.

Basic Bath Bomb Recipe Ingredients

  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1 cup citric acid
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup Epsom salt
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 15-20 drops essential oils 
  • 1 tsp of water
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Bath bomb molds 

DIY Bath Bomb Recipe Instruction

  1. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a medium-size bowl.  Stir until well incorporated.
  2. Add in the coconut oil, essential oils, and tsp of water. Whisk together until well combined.
  3. With a spray bottle, spray the mixture with water until the ingredients hold together when squeezed in your hands.  Only do one spray at a time, so it doesn’t get too wet.
  4. Prepare your bath bomb molds by greasing them with coconut oil.  You can purchase molds online, in craft stores or you can also use a plastic easter egg or any other small, sealable,  inexpensive item you already have around your house. 
  5. Press the mixture into both sides of the bath bomb molds and then put the two halves together. Wipe the excess mixture off the sides and set it aside.
  6. Allow the molds to sit for 24-48 hours or until completely dry and then pop out of the molds.

15 ) Create A DIY Citric Acid Skin Mask
Citric acid has been used for decades in DIY and commercial personal care products. Citric acid is a member of the exfoliating alpha hydroxy acid family. It may help improve the appearance of aged skin, boost skin firmness, improve skin elasticity, and help exfoliate skin. It is usually considered safe for all skin types, except for those with known allergies or sensitive skin. Individuals with oily skin can also benefit from citric acid. As if that wasn’t enough, citric acid is also said to have antioxidant properties as well. 

There are many different recipes for a DIY citric acid skin mask but I prefer starting out with this basic recipe. You can always add your own favorite oils or additional ingredients later. To make this mask, combine 1/4 cup low-fat milk, 2 tbsp. citric acid powder and 1/4 cup water in a small bowl. Stir until the ingredients are blended and the powder has dissolved, and then apply the mixture to dry skin. Let the mask dry for 15 minutes. The mask will begin to tighten and crack, so sit still. To finish, rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water.

This citric acid skin treatment will help reduce oily skin and offer the same benefits as a light chemical peel.

Purchase Bulk Citric Acid

These 15 ideas are just a few of the many uses for citric acid around the house or in your business. I purchase citric acid in bulk, usually 10 pounds at a time, but it’s also available in larger sizes. 

Citric acid is a natural, safe, and low cost problem solver throughout your home or business and it should be a staple ingredient in cooking, cleaning and disinfecting, and creating your own safe and natural personal care products,  


Back to blog