Citrus-Based Cleaners: Do They Really Work?

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Orange citrus cleaners are environmentally friendly, all natural cleaning products that as an added bonus smell delightfully--well, orange. Do citrus-based cleaners really work or is this simply a well crafted marketing ploy? The answer is yes. They really do work.

Most of these natural cleaners contain three or four simple ingredients: Water, orange oil, surfactants, and sometimes ethanol (ethyl alcohol). Orange oil is derived from the peel of the orange. About 90% of orange oil is composed of a substance called d-limonene, a powerful solvent and degreaser.

Environmentally friendly cleaning products such as this Citrus-Scented Shower Cleaner or Multi Purpose Cleaner Heavy Duty Degreaser from Seventh Generation use natural plant based surfactants as opposed to the synthetic petroleum based surfactants found in most commercial cleaning products. Surfactants lift dirt off surfaces by holding it in suspension in liquid until it can be removed by rinsing with water.

Pure orange oil is not water-soluble. When combined with surfactants however, d-limonene does become a water-soluble substance. Together they make an excellent cleaning agent for removing dirt and grease from most surfaces. Another advantage to using natural ingredients is that you don't need to worry about chemical residue remaining on "clean" surfaces.

As with most things, there is of course good news and bad news. The good news is that orange oil is an excellent substitute for petroleum-based degreasers and cleaners. The bad news is that d-limonene is considered a volatile organic compound (VOC) known to irritate skin, eyes, nose, and throat. Orange oil can also stain fabric. Fortunately, the orange oil is fairly diluted when used in spray-and-wipe cleaners and shouldn't cause any of these adverse side effects.

Orange oil is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is also used in furniture polish, pet shampoo, waterless hand cleaners, as a fragrance in soaps and perfumes, and as a flavoring in certain foods.

Happy Cleaning!

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