DIY Natural cleaners series – Citrus Bio Enzyme cleaners

I got introduced to Effective microorganisms for cleaning purposes through my reStore community in Chennai. Effective microorganisms or EM in short

This product developed by Dr. Teruo Higa, Okinawa, Japan is called “EM1” or “EM stock solution”. In India this is manufactured by Maple Orgtech (India) Ltd., Kolkata, and marketed under the name “Maple EM.1”.

This mother solution can be activated and used for a variety of uses. I was a big fan, but moving to our farm made it not so easily available. We generally do not use any of those harsh chemical based cleaners at home. Hence I was using white vinegar and baking soda majorly for my cleaning purposes. They cleaned great but my heart desired to reduce the dependencies on something bought from outside. I just go to the supermarkets (I hate going there) just for buying this vinegar, so I wanted to try a DIY bio enzyme.

I got bitten by the bio enzyme bug, thanks to my friend Meera Rajesh and Ms.Smitha Kamath. Now I have fallen in love with the process of making it, the end product and the amazing citrusy smell …The recipe is child’s play and completely safe for even children to use them 🙂


  •  1 part jaggery or sugar
  • 3 parts citrus peels
  • 10 parts water
  • pinch of yeast is totally optional

Depending on the size on the container in which you plan to make the bio enzyme, you can decide the amount of ingredients. Leave some space in the bottle for the gases that will be formed due to fermentation, do not fill it to the brim.

Slice the citrus peel into strips thin enough to fit through the neck of a 2-litre plastic soda bottle and fill to about half full. Dissolve the sugar/jaggery in water , the temperature of this mixture should just a little over body temperature(Yeast is happiest in this temperature range). Pour into the soda bottle. Cap and shake thoroughly, then set aside in a warm room to ferment.Cover the bottle and date it, so that you will know when the enzyme is ready to use , i.e. 3  months later on. If you dont have enought citrus peel, keep adding to the bottle and when you reach the required amount, mark that date on that bottle, your ensyme will be ready 3 months from this date. Adding a pinch of yeast accelerates the fermentation and can get your enzyme ready probably around 3 weeks.


The fermentation should start almost immediately and be well away after 24 hours. Shake well and release the cap – just enough to allow the pressure built up inside to escape – 2-3 times a day until the fermentation starts to slow down after 5 days or so.

 On some days, you will see the bottle swelling up in size.

I had a bottle blow up like bomb as I had closed the lid tight 🙁 My kitchen ceiling still has some discoloration from this explosion :).

From then on I avoid such extreme gas build-ups leading to explosions by leaving the bottle cap loosely fastened (about halfway tightened  ) – this will allow some gas to come out at all times and there won’t be any buildup of gas 

Let the mixture ferment out for around 3 months in total, then strain and use, either neat or diluted depending on application.

Fermentation stops when either all the sugar is consumed or the concentration of ethanol gets high enough to kill off the yeasts. Once the primary fermentation (the furiously bubbling stage) completes in the first week, the remaining 2½ months are just to let slower secondary fermentation proceed and naturally come to a full stop, which is when all the gas has come out of solution.

By now all the peels would have settled to the bottom and the liquid would be nice yellow, that’s when your solution is ready for use.


  • For yeasts to ferment, you have to exclude oxygen.. It’s better to use a plastic  bottle with the cap screwed on, and release the pressure 2-3 times a day or just close it half way tight.If too much oxygen gets in, then the yeast stops fermenting and your warm sweet liquid becomes the breeding ground for bacteria and fungal spores.  Too much oxygen and other organisms will cause the citrus peel to rot rather than ferment. The idea is it should NOT smell bad, but should smell nice and citrusy
  • If you see any whitish stuff growing on top of the liquid, just add some more jaggery tighten the bottle cover, and give the contents a good, gentle shake and the whitish stuff will be mixed into the liquid. Then loosen the bottle cap again to allow gas to escape as the jaggery will again activate the yeast and fermentation
  • Adding more sugar works because it stimulates the yeast to produce more carbon dioxide, so those organisms which need oxygen to survive will then disappear again, but the better remedy for the situation is to keep the oxygen out in the first place rather than add more sugar.
  • If after this fix, still you feel that it is stinking a lot and is unbearable, just pour in down the drain, it will clean up your drain.

Using the Enzyme and the pulp

Some tips for using the liquid and the pulp at the bottom, around the house and garden. I got these tips either from Ms.Smitha Kamath or by my experiments at home

  • Laundry: 1/4th cup for citrus cleaner liquid with 1/4th cup of soap nut liquid to a full laundry load. Use half the quantity for small loads and delicates.
  • Vegetables and Fruits cleaning: 1 part of Citrus Cleaner: 10 parts of Water
  • Fertilizer: Use 1 part citrus cleaner liquid + 20 parts water or use the water that you mop the floors with
  • Compost: Left-over pulp can be used as compost accelerator
  • Car Wash: 1 part citrus cleaner liquid: 20 parts of water
  • Cleaning your brass and copper lamps etc. they get a nice shine
  • Use the pulp to degrease your chimneys or wash your sinks and toilet bowls
  • Face Cleanser: 1 part citrus cleaner liquid: 2 parts of water
  • To clean blockages in kitchen drains: Add directly the citrus cleaner liquid or use blended pulp. Add boiling hot water after you add the blended pulp
  • Ant Repellent: 1 part citrus cleaner : 5 part of water and plus 5 cloves.
  • To clean glass and mirrors – use 1 part enzyme to 3 parts water and pour into a spray bottle. Spray onto glass and wipe dry with a cotton cloth, paper kitchen towels, or old newspapers. This solution cleans glass even better than those commercial window cleaners!

Have fun using your homemade enzyme!



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