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Food and drink
Powdered citric acid being used to prepare lemon pepper seasoning.
Because it is one of the stronger edible acids, the dominant use of citric acid is as a flavoring and preservative in food and beverages, especially soft drinks
Cleaning and chelating agent
Citric acid is an excellent chelating agent, binding metals. It is used to remove limescale from boilers and evaporators. It can be used to soften water, which makes it useful in soaps and laundry detergents. By chelating the metals in hard water, it lets these cleaners produce foam and work better without need for water softening. Citric acid is the active ingredient in some bathroom and kitchen cleaning solutions. A solution with a 6% concentration of citric acid will remove hard water stains from glass without scrubbing. In the industry, it is used to dissolve rust from steel. Citric acid can be used in shampoo to wash out wax and coloring from the hair.Cosmetics and pharmaceuticals
Citric acid is widely used as a pH adjusting agent in creams and gels of all kinds. In this role, it is classified in most jurisdictions as a processing aid and so does not need to be listed on ingredient lists.
Citric acid is an alpha hydroxy acid and used as an active ingredient in chemical peels.Other uses
Citric acid is used as an odorless alternative to white vinegar for home dyeing with acid dyes.
Sodium citrate is a component of Benedict's reagent, used for identification both qualitatively and quantitatively, of reducing sugars.
Citric acid can be used as an alternative to nitric acid in passivation of stainless steel.
Citric acid can be used as a lower-odor stop bath as part of the process for developing photographic film. Photographic developers are alkaline, so a mild acid is used to neutralize and stop their action quickly, but commonly used acetic acid leaves a strong vinegar odor in the darkroom.
Citric acid/potassium-sodium citrate can be used as a blood acid regulator.