When life gives you lemons, make antibacterial soap, and insect repellent and chrome polish, and, and, and...
While it takes a lot of other ingredients to make lemons palatable in recipes, that same acidic nature makes them useful for many other things. With a bit of research and experimentation, I found 55 green uses for these tart fruits.
By the way, lemons aren't the only useful product along these lines. You might check out my blog post, "35 Uses for Toothpaste That Don't Involve Your Teeth."
But back to our story. Read on to learn 55 ways to use lemons that don't involve eating them.
IN THE KITCHEN
1. Remove Odors From China
Fish have a way of leaving their mark on dishes. Rub half a lemon on the eating surface, wash and rinse.
2. Bleach Dishes
Berries and pomegranates can leave their mark. Fill the sink with warm or boiling water and lemon skins. Soak the dishes for three-to-four hours. Rinse and wipe dry.
3. Clean Microwaves
Combine 3 tablespoons lemon juice and 1-1/2 cups water in a microwave-safe bowl. Cook on high for 5 minutes, allowing the water to boil and the steam to condense on the walls and tops of the oven. Carefully remove the hot bowl and wipe away the mess with a wet sponge.
4. Deodorize Disposals
Chop leftover lemon peels into small pieces, toss them down the drain and run the disposal to grind them up.
5. Clean Tea Kettles and Coffee Pots
Remove mineral deposits from tea kettles by filling with water, adding a handful of thin lemon-peel slices and bringing to a boil. Turn off the heat and let sit for an hour. Drain and rinse well.
Do the same for coffee pots by adding ice, salt and lemon rinds to the empty pot. Stir for a minute or two then empty and rinse the pot.
6. Refresh Cutting Boards
Because of their low pH, lemons have antibacterial properties that makes them perfect for refreshing cutting boards. After scrubbing with a sturdy brush to remove gunk, rub surfaces with half a lemon and let sit for a few minutes before rinsing.
7. Soften Brown Sugar
Does your brown sugar turn into a brick between baking adventures? Try adding some lemon peel to keep it moist between uses.
8. Keep Potatoes and Cauliflower White
Potatoes and cauliflower tend to turn brown when boiling or if they sit too long before serving. Keep them white by squeezing a dollop of fresh lemon juice into the cooking water.
9. Freshen the Fridge
Remove refrigerator odors by cleaning out offending items. Squeeze a teaspoon of lemon juice on a cotton ball or sponge and leave it in the fridge for several hours. For extra-tough odors, wipe down surfaces with the cotton ball or sponge.
10. Keep Rice From Sticking
While the water is boiling, add a teaspoon of lemon juice to keep your rice from turning into a gloppy mass. Let it cool for a few minutes and fluff with a fork before serving.
11. Maintain the Green In Your Guacamole
Unless you make guacamole at the very last second before a party, the surface turns a most unattractive and crusty brown. Try sprinkling a liberal amount of fresh lemon juice over the top to keep it fresh and green. (The lemon flavor also compliments the taste of avocados.)
12. Make Soggy Lettuce Crisper
Before you toss soggy lettuce into the garbage, squeeze half a lemon into a bowl of cold water. Place the lettuce in the water and refrigerate for roughly one hour, then thoroughly dry the leaves.
13. Repel Ants From Kitchen
Insets are repelled by D-limonen, an element found naturally in lemons. Keep creepy crawlers out of your kitchen by squirting lemon juice at window and door thresholds as well as cracks and holes in the walls. Also scatter lemon-peel slices at entrances.
14. Degrease Everything
Eliminate grease from messy surfaces the green way. Sprinkle abrasive salt on a lemon half and run on gunky surfaces. Wipe clean with a soft towel.
15. Deodorize The Home
Boil lemon rinds in a pot of water to rid your house of ugly odors. To deodorize the rest of the house, mix the juice of one lemon with a bag strong tea and place in an old spray bottle. Spray into the air to freshen rooms but avoid upholstered surfaces that could be bleached by the combination of lemon and sun.
16. Make Windows Sparkle
Mix the juice of one lemon with two tablespoons vinegar in a spray bottle. Fill with water and spritz on windows. Rub clean with a newspaper.
17. Polish Wood Furniture
Thoroughly mix a cup of vegetable or olive oil in a spray bottle with a half-cup of lemon juice. Spritz on wood and rub in thoroughly with a soft cloth. The mixture will extend the life of your furniture while making it shine.
18. Polish Chrome
Mineral deposits on tarnished chrome disappear with lemon juice, a soft cloth and some elbow grease.
19. Clean a Stainless-Steel Sink
Use the same method described to polish chrome, applied to any stainless sink.
20. Polish Copper and Brass
Dip a half lemon in salt, baking powder or cream of tartar and rub into copper or brass cookware. Let it sit for 5 minutes, then rinse in warm water and polish dry.
21. Polish Faucets
Rub lemons on your faucets to remove lime scale, hard water stains and soap residue. This method also works on porcelain.
22. Remove Stains From Marble
If a thorough cleansing won't remove stains from porous marble, cut a lemon in half, dip the exposed flesh into some table salt and rub vigorously. Rinse very thoroughly. This should be your cleaning method of last resort, however, as acid can damage marble.
23. Remove Stains From Clothes
Remove unsightly underarm stains from shirts and blouses without environmentally harmful chemicals by scrubbing with equal parts lemon juice and water. You can also substitute white vinegar for the lemon juice.
24. Bleach Without Staining
For a stain-free, non-chemical bleach, soak your delicates in a mixture of lemon juice and baking soda for a half an hour and wash immediately. Lemon juice makes for a mild bleach, so it may not work on heavier stains.
25. Boost Laundry Detergent
Remove rust and mineral discolorations from cotton T-shirts and briefs by pouring 1 cup lemon juice into the washer during the wash cycle.
26. Rid Clothes of Mildew
Make a paste of lemon juice and salt and rub it on the affected area, then dry the clothes in sunlight.
27. Clothes Freshener
Give clothes a fresh scent by adding 2 teaspoons lemon juice along with the detergent while the water is running. Don't add the clothes until after the machine has filled.
28. Sooth Sore Throats
Gargle a mixture of lemon juice, warmish tea and honey before bed. Helps ease sore throats and laryngitis.
29. Freshen Breath
Eliminate bad breath by gargling with lemon juice and water. The acid in lemons can eat tooth enamel, so make sure you rinse thoroughly.
30. Soften Feet
Make a paste of brown sugar and lemon pulp. Gently massage into the soles of your feet. Rinse and moisturize.
31. Create Blond Highlights
Shampoo hair and rinse with a mixture of 1/4 cup lemon juice and 3/4 cup water. Bask in the sun until your hair dries. Repeat daily for one week to maximize the effect.
32. Tighten Skin
Create a natural astringent lotions with lemons. Combine two lemons and 1-1/2 cups cool mineral water in a small bottle. Rinse your skin with the mixture to close pores after cleansing.
33. Lighten Age Spots
Bleach liver spots and freckles by applying lemon juice directly to the area. Let soak in for 15 minutes and rinse thoroughly.
34. Soften Dry Elbows
Use a half lemon sprinkled with baking soda to soften elbows. Just squinch your elbow around in the halved-lemon cup for several minutes. Rinse, dry and apply moisturizer.
35. Refresh Skin In Summer
Rub lemon peels lightly into your skin on hot summer days for a nice skin tonic. Make sure you rinse thoroughly.
36. Exfoliate Skin
Make a paste with 1/2 cup sugar, olive oil and finely chopped lemon peel. Wet your body all over in the shower and massage the paste into your skin. Soap up, rinse thoroughly, dry off and apply moisturizer.
37. Make Potpourri
Use a fine-bladed paring knife to trim away just the colored part of the skin, leaving the bitter white part behind. Lay the strips skin-side down on a plate and let them dry at room temperature for 3 or 4 days, until they have shriveled and are no longer moist. Mix with other dried ingredients, like cinnamon sticks, flower petals, etc. and place in an open dish to scent rooms.
38. Repel Roaches and Fleas
To assist in repelling cockroaches and fleas, who hate the smell of lemons, wash your floors with a mixture of the juice and rinds of four lemons and 1/2 gallon water.
39. Eradicate Moths
Sprinkle dried lemon peels in your drawers and wrap dried lemon peel in cheesecloth and hang in closets.
40. Create a Scented Humidifier
If you live in a dry winter climate, put lemon peels in a pot of water and simmer on low to humidify and scent the air.
41. Make Fires Smell Good
Fires smell great on their own, but a few lemon peels tossed on the flames add an extra flare (pun intended).
42. Neutralize Cat-Box Odor
Cut a couple of lemons in half, place them cut side up in a dish in the same room as the cat box and the citrus will help cut the *other* acidic odor.
43. Whiten Nails
Nails can become yellow with age and over polishing. Add the juice of 1/2 lemon to 1 cup warm water and soak your fingertips for 5 minutes. Push back the cuticles, rub some lemon peel across the nail, rinse thoroughly and moisturize.
44. Treat Dandruff
Massage 2 tablespoons lemon juice into your scalp and rinse with water. Repeat with a mixture of 1 teaspoon lemon juice and 1 cup water. Follow with a thorough shampooing. Repeat this process daily until your dandruff subsides.
45. Remove Berry Stains From Hands
To remove berry-picking stains, wash your hands with undiluted lemon juice. Wait a few minutes and wash with soapy water. Repeat until the stain is completely gone.
46. Disinfect Wounds
Stop bleeding and disinfect minor cuts and scrapes with lemon juice poured directly onto the affected area. You can also apply with a cotton ball held firmly in place for a minute or two.
47. Treat Poison Ivy Rashes
Next time you stumble into a poison-ivy patch, apply lemon juice directly to the affected area to soothe itching and alleviate the rash.
48. Repulse Insects at Camping Sites
Forgot to bring the insecticides on a camping trip? Boil lemon juice or extract and place the liquid in your tent to repel mosquitoes and mites.
49. Clean Guitars
Lemon juice strips dirt off guitar grooves and helps shine the surface. Just don't use it on porous, maple-based stringed instruments as the acid can damage this type of wood.
50. Preserve Meat
Lemon's acidity can kill bacteria found in meat but. Mix lemon juice with water when washing to improve the microbe-killing rate. You'll still need to cook the meat to eliminate any parasites.
51. Add An Antibacterial Agent to Soap
Add lemon extract when whipping up a batch of soap to improve its germ-killing properties.
52. Use As A Short-Term Deodorant
For emergency situations, wet your armpits with lemon extract. The deodorizing effect will last for only a few hours, but it's better than sweating your way through a job interview when you've forgotten your speed stick.
53. Whiten Tennis Shoes
Spray tennis shoes with lemon juice and place them in the sun to dry.
54. Cat Repellent For Lawns
Keep cats from using your lawn as a litter box. Combine lemon peels with coffee grounds and place the mixture on the spots where neighborhood cats like to relieve themselves. If they don't take the hint, moisten the second batch with water.
55. Deal With a Dog's Chromadacryorrhea
Chromodacryorrhea is a stain that forms around the eyes, feet and mouth of some dogs and can be problematic for show dogs. The coloring is typically a reddish-brown and can be unsightly and expensive to remove with surgical procedures.
A mixture of equal parts lemon juice and baking soda is a natural solution to the stains. Mix it into a paste and rub it onto your dog's coat in the problem areas. Let it sit for up to 10 minutes before very rinsing thoroughly from your dog's fur. Do not get into dog's eyes or allow them to lick it off.