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Everyday Cheapskate: How to Use Citric Acid to Clean, Descale and Restore Just About Anything

Mary Hunt on

With regular use, hard water deposits build up in dishwashers, their hoses and connectors. Citric acid can get in all of those small crevices to break down and remove that buildup. I have suggested lemon Kool-Aid in the past for its high concentration of citric acid -- and that works -- but citric can be used directly.

Fill the empty dishwasher's detergent cup with powdered citric acid and run as usual, set to the hottest and longest cycle. Run a second time with regular detergent (and dishes) to clear out any mineral deposits that may have lingered.

-- Electric or stovetop kettle

Mineral deposits build up quickly and can be difficult to remove from a tea kettle -- whether it's a stovetop or electric model. Boiling water and a little citric acid can take care of that, no scrubbing required.

Fill the kettle halfway and turn it on to boil. Once it's boiling, remove from the stove (or switch the electric model off) and drop 1-2 tablespoons of citric acid into the water. Let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse, and the pesky minerals will be gone.

-- Toilet bowl ring

We know a number of ways to get rid of that stubborn toilet bowl ring and dissolving it with citric acid is one of the easiest. Pour 1 tablespoon of the powder into the toilet bowl, swish it around with a toilet brush, and then let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Flush. The bowl will sparkle like new.

-- Deep-clean a coffee maker


To give your coffee machine a deep clean, pour 1 cup of citric acid into the carafe and fill it the rest of the way with water. Stir to dissolve. Pour this in its entirety into the reservoir and set the machine to brew. Once it's done brewing, throw out the water in the carafe and run a second pot of clear water to sweep away any citric acid that may be lingering. Any mineral buildup inside the machine will be gone, and the glass carafe will be sparkling clean, too.

-- Clean surface areas

By adding a couple of tablespoons of citric acid into a spray bottle filled with water -- or your pre-made citric acid all-purpose cleaner (above) -- you'll have a mixture you can use to clean your shower, kitchen countertops and more. Just avoid using citric acid on natural stone such as granite and marble, as the acid can cause damage.

To discover nine more ways to use citric acid around the house and garage, meet me at


Mary invites you to visit her at, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at, "Ask Mary." This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

Copyright 2022 Creators Syndicate Inc.


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