Several years ago, my son gave me the bounty from the two fruit trees that pretty much rule his backyard. My Mother’s Day gift of Meyer lemons weighed in at 124 pounds. I know, lucky me!
I had to figure out ways to use, share, and preserve lemons in a big hurry. I juiced, cooked, and baked all kinds of lemon things. And I learned so many ways to use lemons in around the house, too! Who knew lemons could be so useful?
Zap strong odors
To remove odors from garbage disposals, you can drop in leftover lemon peels (cut them small so they don’t jam the blade). Or rub lemon juice onto cutting boards that have retained strong odors or stains. Follow with hot, soapy water. Clean the walls and shelves of the refrigerator with straight lemon juice. Rinse well, and then wipe to dry.
Remove hard water stains
If your chromed bathroom and kitchen fixtures have hard water stains that won’t come off with regular cleaners, try cutting a lemon in half and scrubbing the surfaces with it. You will be amazed! The citric acid will cut through the stains, leaving your chrome to shine like new.
Treat dry skin with a lemon-sugar scrub. Either mix lemon juice with sugar until you reach a slushy snow consistency and massage it into your dry skin, or cut a lemon in half, dip the cut side into sugar or sea salt, and use this as a “scrubber” on particularly dry areas, such as knees, elbows or heels. Be careful when applying to cracked skin because the lemon juice is going to burn.
You don’t need bleach is not the only way to brighten your white laundry. Add lemon juice to the wash cycle for cleaner and naturally scented clothes. Lemon juice is also good for removing stains. You can directly apply lemon juice to the spot before washing the garment, or for bigger stains, soak the clothing in a bucket of hot water with 1/4 cup each baking soda and lemon juice.
There’s nothing like a Hot Toddy for a sore throat, but you don’t have to include the whiskey. Juice from one lemon in a cup of hot water will also do the trick, as lemons have antibiotic properties. Add honey for sweetness, and you’ll have added one more germ killer.
For fresh-cut fruits or veggies, squeeze fresh lemon juice to prevent browning. This is another reason why many guacamole recipes call for lime; in addition to the flavor, it slows the guacamole from turning brown as it is exposed to the air.
Believe it or not, you can use lemon juice instead of harmful weed killers to get to those hard-to-remove weeds that always come back, particularly in the cracks of your sidewalk or driveway. Apply it directly, full-strength on the weeds using a sprayer. You have the best results on a sunny day.
Cats are territorial and curious, and both traits often lead them straight to your garden. Whether it’s your cat or the neighbor’s digging or urinating in your flowerbed or on your lawn furniture, you can repel him easily and safely with citrus. Shred the peels into 1-inch pieces and place them in flowerbeds, in potted plants, on shelf tops, or anywhere else you want to protect from cats. This should be an outdoor treatment as citrus peels can attract bugs if used indoors.
To get your microwave sparkling clean, do this: Pour about 1/2 cup water into a 2-cup microwave-safe measuring cup. Cut a lemon in half and squeeze all the juice from both halves into the water. Drop both lemon rinds into the bowl. Microwave for 3 minutes on high power. You want the liquid to come to a full, rolling boil. Do not open the microwave door for 5 full minutes. The acidic steam trapped inside will loosen all that food gunk like nobody’s business! After 5 minutes, simply wipe clean.
All you need to clean and polish copper is a lemon and salt. Here’s the routine: Cut a fresh lemon in half and dip the cut side into a generous amount of ordinary table salt. Scrub the copper surface with the lemon. Prepare to be amazed!
Caution: Lemon and salt are not recommended for lacquered copper. How can you tell? If the surface of your copper piece has a shiny, glossy finish that does not change color, most likely it has been lacquered to ward off tarnish.
I just love the smell of citrus to make any cleaning chore smell so fresh and, well … clean! Check out this really cool way to make all-purpose cleaner from lemon peels.
Fill a large glass jar about halfway with discarded citrus peels. Pour in enough white vinegar to completely cover peels. Keep it covered in a dark place for two weeks. The longer it sits, the more oil and fragrance will infuse into the vinegar. Once you feel it’s ready to go, strain this citrus cleaner using a fine-mesh sieve placed over a large bowl. Discard the peels. Pour liquid into a spray bottle and use it as you would any other all-purpose cleaner. Amazing!
First published: 5-13-12; Revised & Updated 9-3-20