Thursday, August 4, 2011

Homemade Orange Oil Cleaner and Cleaning Paint Brushes!

I have a new appreciation for orange peel.  Usually I just throw the peels into the garden or if I need a major sugar fix, I'll make candied orange peel.  A couple of months ago I decided to try making Orange Oil Cleaner. 
*There is another post about ways to use orange and other citrus peels, too.*

It sure was simple enough.  I filled a glass quart jar with orange peels and poured white vinegar to the top of the jar.  Screwed on the lid, put it on a shelf away from light and I was done.  Every so often I gave the jar a shake. After about a month, it was starting to look thicker, and since I had more orange peel, I filled another quart jar with them.  Recipes vary, but from what I read, you're supposed to wait up to three months before you use it.  Just strain the liquid into your container of choice, then cut it with up to 10 parts water when you're ready to do some cleaning.

If you're going to use it in a spray bottle, you need to strain it really well.  Try a coffee filter.

You don't have to eat all those oranges at one time.  Just add the peels (and more vinegar) as you get them.  It also doesn't have to be just oranges.  Any citrus fruit will work - grapefruit, lemons or limes.  If you just want a small batch, put the peels of one piece of fruit into a quart jar, add vinegar, wait at least a couple of weeks and then cut it with 3 parts of water when you're ready to use it.

Okay, so now I have two jars of weird looking orange peels.  On another shelf I had two good paint brushes that were ruined.  One I had used with urethane and didn't get all of it cleaned out (I hate that stuff).  The other I had used with oil base primer and it was drying before I tried to clean it off the brush.  (I really hate that stuff.)  I had tried soaking them in straight vinegar and had no results, but for some reason, I still hadn't thrown them away. I figured that I had nothing to lose, so I stood both brushes in a wide mouth mason jar and poured in some of the orange cleaner without adding water.  I added just enough to cover the bristles of the brushes.  I put the jar into a couple of plastic grocery bags, wrapped them around the top of the jar, trying to make a seal around the handles of the paint brushes.

The brushes have been soaking for three days now.  I just checked them and voila!  Both are bending when I push down on them!!  There are bits of primer in the solution now, so it's gradually taking that off the brush.  I'll check them again in a couple days.  With some luck, I'll be able to salvage the brushes.

I'll post the end results.

Update!  2-4
Well, the brushes are toast.  I did check them about a month after I put them in the orange oil cleaner.  They were a little better, but I doubted that I was going to be able to salvage them.  Then I forgot about them.  Now months later, most of the orange oil has evaporated despite my efforts to make it as air tight as I could.  More of the urethane came off, but the metal parts of the brushes are naaasty.  Amazing what vinegar will do to some metals.  :o)  I had read that you could get latex paint off brushes with vinegar, but if it's oil based?  Doubtful.


  1. This is a great one! I can't wait to try it thank you!

  2. should the citrus be organic?

  3. That's up to you. Personally, I don't buy organic citrus fruit, it's just waaay too expensive where I live. But if I'm going to use the peels for anything, it all gets a good washing.

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  7. try fabric softener on the brushes

  8. With brushes you have to boil them in vinegar