Lemons are one of the most versatile fruits out there. And no, we’re not just talking about in cooking! Lemon juice is an acid, a natural disinfectant, and a nutritional powerhouse. Its scent is perfect for humans, but a deterrent for pests. It helps preserve food and can easily replace harsh chemical-based ingredients. Is there anything this unassuming fruit can’t do?! Read on for incredible ways to use lemons. Have a favorite use of your own? Let us know in the comments!
Home & Cleaning.
1. Clean Cutting Boards, Rolling Pins, Salad Bowls, and More. Cutting boards and other wooden kitchen products are germ, and funky smell, hotbeds. Lemons to the rescue! The stuff works very well on both odors and bacteria; after you’ve washed your cutting board, rub 1/2 of a lemon over the wood and let it sit for 20-30 minutes. Rinse the juice off and dry.
2. Get Rid of Grease. Nip grease in the bud — on counters, dishes, ranges, whatever — by rubbing 1/2 of a lemon with coarse salt sprinkled on it over the affected area. Wipe clean with a towel. Make sure the surface or dish you’re cleaning responds well to acid before doing this trick.
3. Clean Plastic Containers. Reusing plastic food containers is a great way to reduce waste, but smells can linger forever. Overcome that stink by soaking the container in a mixture of equal parts lemon juice and water.
4. Overcome Odors. Keep a couple lemon peels in your fridge (it works better than baking soda!) and the bottom of your trash can to avoid unpleasant smells.
5. Easily Clean Graters. Cheese graters are a pain in the neck to clean. Ease that pain with the help of 1/2 of a cut lemon; rub the lemon over the grater and wash as usual.
6. Polish Chrome and Stainless Steel. Forget that sponge — lemon rinds are excellent mild abrasives and work wonders of chrome and stainless steel. Scrub the metal, rinse, and towel dry.
Beauty & Fashion.
7. DIY Deodorant. Commercial deodorants are full of scary, harsh chemicals. But what’s the alternative — becoming a social pariah?! Luckily, that’s where lemon juice comes in. Dabbing a little juice in your armpits works just as well, if not better, than the store-bought stuff.
8. Lighten Nails. As we age, our nails start to yellow. Reverse that by soaking your nails in a cup of water and the juice of 1 lemon. Soak for a few minutes and rinse.
9. Remove Armpit Stains from Clothes. Scrub a mixture of equal parts lemon juice and water onto the stain, then let the shirt air dry.
10. Zap Mildew. Mildew-y clothes aren’t ruined! Form a paste out of lemon juice and salt, apply to the mildew, and let air dry.
11. Sanitize Jewelry. Safety first! You can sanitize metal jewelry in a mixture of equal parts lemon and water. Better skip your fanciest gems and metals here, though.
12. Replace Toxic Bleach. Skip the bleach in your laundry room by adding 1/2 cup lemon juice to the wash instead.
Food & Drink.
13. Lower Salt Intake. Your taste buds get a similar sensation from sour flavors as they do salty flavors, which makes lemon juice one of the best salt substitutes out there. Skip the shaker and season your meals with citrus.
14. Prevent Sticky Rice. To get perfect fluffy, stick-free rice, add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to the pot while the rice is simmering.
15. Preserve Food. A little lemon juice will help keep both guacamole and pesto green, and prevent apples, potatoes, pears and cauliflower from browning.
16. Refresh Sad Lettuce. Placing soggy, wilted lettuce in a bowl of ice water and the juice of one half lemon will bring sad lettuce back from the compost bin.
17. Wash Produce. Nearly all fruits and veggies — even organic — will benefit from a good washing. Go the DIY route. Check out a recipe here.
Pets, Garden & More.
18. Keep Out Kitty. What smells great to humans is repulsive to cats. Adding some lemon juice to a spray bottle, and misting an off-limits area — like the kitchen countertops, for instance, or the Christmas tree — will help keep feisty felines away.
19. Breathe New Life Into a Humidifier. If your humidifier is starting to smell a little strange, just add a few teaspoons (3-4) to the water.
20. Kill Weeds Naturally. Lemon juice is an ultra-effective weed killer. Soak the unwanted plants with the stuff to kill them without all of the harsh chemicals.
21. Revive Hardened Paintbrushes. Give a new life to those hardened bristles. Bring lemon juice to a boil on the stove, drop in the brushes, and let it sit for about 15 minutes. Wash and rinse in soap water and let dry.
22. Repel Ants and Other Pests. Ants, roaches, and moths hate the smell of citrus. Place lemon juice in a spray bottle, and regularly mist door thresholds, window sills, and anywhere else bugs might creep in.
*Image of “lemons” via Shutterstock