As I've mentioned before, we've been transitioning to a more home-made household, using natural and homemade concoctions in place of (expensive and chemical-laden) consumer goods. We've been using our homemade laundry detergent for a month now and LOVE it! It gets the job done just as well as name brand and better than generic cheap brands. We've even passed it out to some friends and the report is the same--effective and clean-smelling. Plus it's crazy cheap. Less than a penny per load cheap.
I've also been using plain white vinegar as a natural rinse aid in the dishwasher (I'd love to try the homemade version of dishwasher detergent too, but having trouble finding the needed citric acid) and have had just as clean results as commercial JetDry (or generic). No, the dishes don't end up smelling like vinegar after the load is finished, but you can smell it for a bit if you're standing by the dishwasher when it hits the rinse cycle.
So when I came across the idea to citrus-boost plain white vinegar for a natural cleaner, I was excited to try it in the dishwasher too!
It's easy to make your own: simply let orange peels "cure" in plain white vinegar for a couple weeks. The ratio of orange to vinegar isn't critical--the more orange peel, the more orangey your solution will be. That's up to you. I recommend peeling a "snake" with a paring knife so it coils nicely in a mason jar (as I have done, pictured). You can peel it by hand too, of course, but be sure not to put any of the sugary fruit flesh in the solution lest you have to worry about making your cleaning agent sticky.
After the orange peel sits in the vinegar for awhile (a couple weeks or so, again, not critical) strain the solution and viola--you have a natural citrus-oil-boosted cleaning agent. You can dilute with water in a spray bottle for a general all-purpose cleaner (about 1:4 vinegar to water) AND you can pour straight into the rinse aid compartment of the dishwasher for natural JetDry.
If you have mason jars or other glass jars hanging around (I save glass jars from grocery products too--like pasta sauces, etc., just pop in the dishwasher to clean and ALWAYS save the lid!) then every time you peel an orange (or try another citrus--grapefruit? Lemon? Lime?) you can pop the peel in an empty jar and fill it with vinegar (we buy ours cheap in a giant, hulking container, so we always have this on hand) and you have a fresh batch in the queue. I slapped a piece of masking tape on my jar that said "orange-vinegar, 11/25" which is the date I should take the orange peel out. Not so pretty but terribly utilitarian. Then I stuck it on a shelf in the laundry room.
Of course, if you use white vinegar for salad dressing recipes, you could maybe try the citrus-vinegar in that too!? Just a thought.