10 Unexpected Ways to Use Lemon Around the House
Are some often-used fixtures in your home looking a bit dingy? Whether you need to clean, deodorize or just refresh, one popular kitchen staple can do it all. Lemons contain a high level of acid that creates an unfriendly environment for bacteria.
What's the best way to store lemons?
Since lemons are inexpensive and can be used in a variety of ways, buy them in bulk. To help preserve your lemons, store them uncovered in the refrigerator — they'll last longer than if left out on the kitchen counter.
Photo: Rachel Brougham
Deodorize your garbage disposal
While garbage disposals are self-cleaning (at least in theory), sludge can occasionally build up and that's when unwanted odors happen. First, make sure your garbage disposal is cleaned out—try these tricks if your disposal needs a heavy cleaning. Then give the disposal a good flush—fill the sink with several inches of hot water and a small squirt of dish soap. Turn the disposal on and flush the water through. This can help loosen any of that built-up gunk. Next, take half a lemon and pulse it in the garbage disposal with a little water running. If the smell persists, repeat the process with hot water and the second lemon half. To keep the disposal smelling fresh, repeat this process once a month.
Polish Your Metal
No matter how careful you are with your stainless-steel pots, those nice steak knives or that fancy coffee travel mug, sometimes they get small rust spots due to residual water. Next time you notice a small rust spot on your metal kitchen tools, use lemon juice and a sponge. Simply squeeze a little lemon juice into a sponge and rub it on the surface. Do you have scratches in your stainless steel appliances? Here's how to sand them out.
Use as an all-purpose cleaner
While vinegar and baking soda can do wonders for grimy areas of the home, having a house that smells like the inside of a salad dressing bottle isn't always desirable. The secret to saving money on household cleaners and having a house that smells fresh is lemon peels. Simply save citrus peels in the freezer for a couple weeks and add them to your homemade cleaner. Just add citrus peels (lemon, lime, grapefruit or orange) to a container such as a Mason jar and pour in vinegar. Cover and let it sit in a dark area for two weeks. The longer it sits the better it will smell. Before using, strain the cleaner and discard the peels. Transfer to a spray bottle and clean away. Have a big cleaning job? These quick cleaning tips can help.
Clean Your Microwave
There's no scrubbing required here! You can get a squeaky-clean microwave without using harsh chemicals. Just squeeze some lemon juice into a bowl of warm water, add the lemon rinds and microwave for 5 minutes. The water will start to boil and the steam will loosen the dried bits of food. When the timer goes off, carefully remove the hot bowl and use a clean towel to wipe everything clean. Plus: 5 ways your microwave can help with housework.
Clean Your Wood Cutting Boards
No matter how clean you may keep your kitchen, that cutting board you use for everything harbors bacteria and grime. Sprinkle the cutting board with some coarse salt. Then take half a lemon and scour the surface, being sure to squeeze the lemon juice as you go. Let it sit for five minutes then scrape the dirty liquid into the sink. Then give the board a good rinse with warm water and a clean dishcloth or sponge. Here's how to make a combination cutting board/serving tray.
Remove Laundry Stains
While bleach can fight tough laundry stains, lemons can work just as well to brighten your whites and get stains out. Try this tip for getting stubborn fruit and juice stains out of clothing and dish towels: Mix 1/3 cup lemon juice with 2/3 cup of water. Soak the stain in the mixture for 15 minutes then wash as normal. Messy laundry room? Tidy it up with these helpful lips.
Detox your dishwasher
When life gives you lemons, clean your stinky dishwasher! Next time you get ready to run your dishwasher, slip in a lemon wedge. Place it securely on the top rack so it doesn't move around. Then run your dishwasher as normal. While the acidity isn't enough to clean all your dishes, the lemon will leave behind a fresher smelling dishwasher. Check out these tips for fixing common dishwasher problems.
Polish wood furniture
Is that antique table looking a bit dull? Try lemon. If the wood is varnished, add a few drops of lemon juice to 1/2 cup of warm water. Spray it lightly on a damp cotton cloth and wipe down the furniture. If it's unvarnished, mix 2 teaspoons each of lemon juice and olive oil and apply with a soft cloth. If the project needs a bit more polish, try these wood refreshing tips.
Remove refrigerator odors
Does your fridge smell a bit funky? Before deodorizing, remove any spoiled foods or other odor culprits. Soak some cotton balls or cotton pads in a bowl of freshly squeezed lemon juice and place them in the fridge for four to six hours. Repeat if odors return. Check out these tips for how to avoid refrigerator repairs.
Get rid of soap scum
Instead of using harsh cleaners to remove scum from your shower walls and doors, simply put lemon juice on a sponge and wipe the shower down. Rinse with hot water. Lemon juice can also help with rust and some water stains. Have a tough job? Fight water stains with these tips.