5 foods you can use to clean your home naturally — you'll be surprised

Citrus fruits and cleaning tools
Citrus fruits and cleaning tools (Image credit: Shutterstock)

When it comes to cleaning every room in the home, you probably have a cupboard full of go-to products, all promising to get the tasks done in less time. After all, who wants to spend their weekends scrubbing away at surfaces? 

But if you’re looking for quick, natural cleaning “hacks”, or simply prefer homemade cleaning products, you’ll be surprised to know there are certain foods you can use to clean your home with.  

Similar to the miraculous powers of household essentials such as baking soda and vinegar, these foods contain zero chemicals or harsh fragrances and are eco-friendly. This is especially the case if you have children or pets running around, who might have a reaction to such harmful chemicals. 

Best of all, these common foods can all be found in your kitchen, and are far cheaper in the long-run. So if you don’t want to break the shopping budget — and have a non-toxic home, here are five foods you can clean your home with naturally. 

1. Grapefruit

Grapefruit and cleaning tools

Grapefruit and cleaning tools (Image credit: Shutterstock)

They may be juicy and delicious, but grapefruits are more than just a healthy snack. Similar to the miraculous cleaning properties of baking soda and white vinegar, these citrus fruits make a great natural, bleaching solution, without the use of harsh chemicals. 

This is mainly because grapefruit, lime and lemons contain citric acid which makes it the ideal bleaching agent to remove stains and limescale. Plus, with its fresh scent, it has deodorizing properties to get rid of bad odors fast, which is always a bonus.

“Grapefruit is a versatile fruit that can be used for natural cleaning around the house,” says Andrea Philips, cleaning expert from Airtasker. “One of the best uses of a grapefruit is to clean your bath. All you need to do is cut the grapefruit in half and sprinkle with loads of salt and get scrubbing. This should get rid of any limescale build up and tough stains.”

2. Onions 

Cut onion in food chopper

Cut onion in food chopper (Image credit: Future)

Onions is a staple ingredient in most of our dishes, but did you know it also has great cleaning properties? This is because onions' natural acidity can easily loosen baked-on food, grease and even shine cutlery. 

“There are many ways onions can be used to clean around the home, including polishing metal,” agrees Philips, “Just use a mixture of chopped up raw onion and equal parts water with a damp cloth and rub on to your taps and other fixtures and rinse off afterwards for sparkling results. Onions are also great at removing paint odours, simply slice some onions and place in a bowl with some water to absorb the smells. For the best results leave out overnight.”

In addition, if you’re firing up your grill this summer, and using one the best grill brushes, onions are known to remove hardened grease, and baked-on food to make it look as good as new.

3. Black tea 

Someone holding a cup of tea with a slice of lemon in it

Someone holding a cup of tea with a slice of lemon in it (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Although you might have had the task of getting rid of tea stains, you'll be surprised to know that tea is actually good for cleaning other things in the home. 

Tea contains natural tannic acid which is ideal at cleaning wood, aluminum and even getting rid of bad odors. In fact, experts suggest cleaning hardwood floors with a solution of black tea and hot water, to remove dirt and dust effectively, without damaging floors. 

“The harsh chemicals found in many floor cleaners can do more damage than good to your hardwood floor, however black tea is a perfect substitute,” states Philips, “Providing its natural ability to protect and shine, it will extend the life of your flooring. To clean, make a strong pot of tea and pour into a bucket half filled with hot water, dip your broom into the mixture and lightly brush over the furniture. There’s no need to rinse.”

Not only can tea be a good cleaner and restore wood, but it is also a natural deodorizer. “Tea can also be used to deodorise outdoor furniture. For wooden or wicker furniture, the tea will replace the tannins that are taken out by the harsh sun — meaning it will bring its lovely brown wooden look back to its full potential.” 

4. Salt  

A bottle of table salt tipped on its side and spilled

A bottle of table salt tipped on its side and spilled (Image credit: Shutterstock)

We all use table salt to sprinkle over our foods, but surprisingly it can be used for more than seasoning your meals. With its abrasive nature, it’s the ideal substance — and there are clever ways you can clean with salt in the home.

In addition, it also works as a natural deodorizer and has excellent absorbency tendencies, which comes in handy when you’re dealing with tough stains. “Salt is also good at removing carpet stains, create a paste using a paste of 250g of salt and 2 tablespoons vinegar, rub into carpet, leave to dry and then use your vacuum cleaner,” suggests Philips. “With its grainy texture and ability to be heated to a higher temperature it can be used in a variety of ways. Freshen up sponges and cloths after use by soaking in a salt and water solution, this will clean them and get rid of any odours.”  

5. Fragrant herbs 

Herbs on windowsill

Herbs on windowsill (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Fragrant herbs are not only used to garnish delicious meals, but can be added in your cleaning routine. And if you’re growing herbs indoors, you’ll have plenty at hand to  make your home smell fresh all day, or even be added to a cleaning solution. What’s more, herbs make a natural deodoriser way to eliminate musty odors, without harmful chemicals. 

“More than just creating lovely essential oils with rosemary, thyme and mint; herbs such as lemongrass and peppermint have great uses,” agrees Philips. “You can mix lemongrass and white vinegar in a spray bottle to create an effective glass cleaner, simply spray on mirrors or glass and wipe clean. You can also leave the lemongrass mixture in the bottom of vases to clean and stubborn build up.” 

Not only is peppermint a great room fragrance, but also makes a great pest repellent, especially if you want to get rid of mosquitoes, roaches, silverfish and more. “Another great herb to use is peppermint as it works well as a natural pest control remedy, using it around the home will ward off any ants and mosquitos.”  

More from Tom's Guide

Cynthia Lawrence
Content Editor, Homes

As the Homes Content Editor, Cynthia Lawrence covers all things homes, interior decorating, and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features. 

Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.

With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!