34 Useful Reasons to Load Up On Lemons

When life gives you lemons, you can do more than make lemonade. From eliminating odors to juicing your daily beauty regimen, here are 34 practical uses for lemons around the house.


LEMONS IN THE KITCHEN

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Freshen the fridge
Remove refrigerator odors with ease. Dab lemon juice on a cotton ball or sponge and leave it in the fridge for several hours. Make sure to toss out any malodorous items that might be causing the bad smell.

Brighten dull aluminum
Make those dull pots and pans sparkle, inside and out. Just rub the cut side of half a lemon all over them and buff with a soft cloth.

Refresh cutting boards
No wonder your kitchen cutting board smells! After all, you use it to chop onions, crush garlic, cut raw and cooked meat and chicken, and pre-pare fish. To get rid of the smell and help sanitize the cutting board, rub it all over with the cut side of half a lemon or wash it in undiluted juice straight from the bottle.

Keep insects out of the kitchen
You don’t need insecticides or ant traps to ant-proof your kitchen. Just give it the lemon treatment. First squirt some lemon juice on door thresholds and windowsills. Then squeeze lemon juice into any holes or cracks where the ants are getting in. Finally, scatter small slices of lemon peel around the outdoor entrance. The ants will get the message that they aren’t welcome. Lemons are also effective against roaches and fleas: Simply mix the juice of 4 lemons (along with the rinds) with 1/2 gallon (2 liters) water and wash your floors with it; then watch the fleas and roaches flee. They hate the smell.

Clean your microwave
Is the inside of your microwave caked with bits of hardened food? You can give it a good cleaning without scratching the surface with harsh cleansers or using a lot of elbow grease. Just mix 3 tablespoons lemon juice into 1 1/2 cups water in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on High for 5-10 minutes, allowing the steam to condense on the inside walls and ceiling of the oven. Then just wipe away the softened food with a dishrag.

Deodorize your garbage disposal
If your garbage disposal is beginning to make your sink smell yucky, here’s an easy way to deodorize it: Save leftover lemon and orange peels and toss them down the drain. To keep it smelling fresh, repeat once every month.

Next: More tips for lemons in the kitchen

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LEMONS IN THE KITCHEN, CONTINUED

Prevent potatoes from turning brown
Potatoes and cauliflower tend to turn brown when boiling, especially when you’re having company for dinner. You can make sure the white vegetables stay white by squeezing a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice into the cooking water.

Keep guacamole green
You’ve been making guacamole all day long for the big party, and you don’t want it to turn brown on top before the guests arrive. The solution: Sprinkle a liberal amount of fresh lemon juice over it and it will stay fresh and green. The flavor of the lemon juice is a natural complement to the avocados in the guacamole. Make the fruit salad hours in advance too. Just squeeze some lemon juice onto the apple slices, and they’ll stay snowy white.

Make soggy lettuce crisp
Don’t toss that soggy lettuce into the garbage. With the help of a little lemon juice you can toss it in a salad instead. Add the juice of half a lemon to a bowl of cold water. Then put the soggy lettuce in it and refrigerate for 1 hour. Make sure to dry the leaves completely before putting them into salads or sandwiches.

Keep rice from sticking
To keep your rice from sticking together in a gloppy mass, add a spoonful of lemon juice to the boiling water when cooking. When the rice is done, let it cool for a few minutes, then fluff with a fork before serving.

Next: Tips for lemons for health and beauty uses

LEMONS FOR HEALTH AND BEAUTY

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Lighten age spots

Why buy expensive creams when you’ve got lemon juice? To lighten liver spots or freckles, try applying lemon juice directly to the area. Let it sit for 15 minutes and then rinse your skin clean. It’s a safe and effective skin-lightening agent.

Create blonde highlights

For salon-worthy highlights, add 1/4 cup lemon juice to 3/4 cup water and rinse your hair with the mixture. Then, sit in the sun until your hair dries. To maximize the effect, repeat once daily for up to a week. Don’t forget to put on plenty of sunscreen before you sit out in the sun.

Clean and whiten nails

Pamper your hands without a manicurist. Add the juice of 1/2 lemon to 1 cup warm water and soak your fingertips in the mixture for 5 minutes. After pushing back the cuticles, rub some lemon peel back and forth against the nail.

Cleanse your face

Zap acne naturally by dabbing lemon juice on blackheads to draw them out during the day. You can also wash your face with lemon juice for a natural cleanse and exfoliation. Your skin should improve after several days of treatment.

Freshen your breath

Make an impromptu mouthwash by rinsing with lemon juice straight from the bottle. Swallow for longer-lasting fresh breath. The citric acid in the juice alters the pH level in your mouth, killing bacteria that causes bad breath. Rinse after a few minutes because long-term exposure to the acid in lemons can harm tooth enamel.

Next: More tips for lemons for health and beauty uses

LEMONS FOR HEALTH AND BEAUTY, CONTINUED

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Treat flaky dandruff

If itchy, scaly dandruff has you scratching your head, relief may be no farther away than your refrigerator. Just massage two tablespoons lemon juice into your scalp and rinse with water. Then stir one teaspoon lemon juice into one cup water and rinse your hair with it. Repeat daily until your dandruff disappears.

Remove berry stains

It sure was fun to pick your own berries, but now your fingers are stained with berry juice that won’t come off no matter how much you scrub with soap and water. Try washing your hands with undiluted lemon juice, then wait a few minutes and wash with warm, soapy water. Repeat until your hands are stain-free.

Soften dry, scaly elbows

Itchy elbows are bad enough, but they look terrible too. For better looking (and feeling) elbows, mix baking soda and lemon juice to make an abrasive paste, then rub it into your elbows for a soothing, smoothing, and exfoliating treatment.

Disinfect cuts and scrapes

Stop bleeding and disinfect minor cuts and scraps by pouring a few drops of lemon juice directly on the cut. You can also apply the juice with a cotton ball and hold firmly in place for one minute.

Soothe poison ivy rash

You won’t need an ocean of calamine lotion the next time poison ivy comes a-creeping. Just apply lemon juice directly to the affected area to soothe itching and alleviate the rash.

Relieve rough hands and sore feet

Rinse your extremities in a mixture of equal parts lemon juice and water, then massage with olive oil and dab dry with a soft cloth.

Remove warts

You’ve tried countless remedies to banish warts and nothing seems to work. Next time, apply a dab of lemon juice directly to the wart using a cotton swab. Repeat for several days until the acids in the lemon juice dissolve the wart completely.

Next: Tips for lemons in the laundry room

LEMONS IN THE LAUNDRY ROOM

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Bleach delicate fabrics

Avoid additional bleach stains by swapping ordinary household chlorine bleach with lemon juice, which is milder but no less effective. Soak your delicates in a mixture of lemon juice and baking soda for at least half an hour before washing.

Remove unsightly underarm stains

Ditch the expensive dry-cleaning bills (and harsh chemicals) with this homegrown trick. Simply scrub the stained area on shirts and blouses with equal parts lemon juice and water. Your “pits” will be good as new, and smell nice too.

Boost laundry detergent

For more powerful cleaning action, pour 1 cup lemon juice into the washer during the wash cycle. The natural bleaching action of the juice will zap stains and remove rust and mineral discolorations from cotton T-shirts and briefs and will leave your clothes smelling fresh.

Rid clothes of mildew

Have you ever unpacked clothes you stored all winter and discovered some are stained with mildew? To get rid of it, make a paste of lemon juice and salt and rub it on the affected area, then dry the clothes in sunlight. Repeat the process until the stain is gone.

Whiten clothes

To make your whites a little whiter, add diluted or straight lemon juice to your wash water. Your clothes will turn out brighter and also come out smelling lemon-fresh.

Next: Tips for lemons around the house

LEMONS AROUND THE HOUSE

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Eliminate fireplace odor
There’s nothing cozier on a cold winter night than a warm fire burning in the fireplace — unless the fire happens to smell horrible. Next time you have a fire that sends a stench into the room, try throwing a few lemon peels into the flames. Or simply burn some lemon peels along with your firewood as a preventive measure.

Get rid of tough stains on marble
You probably think of marble as stone, but it is really petrified calcium (also known as old seashells). That explains why it is so porous and easily stained and damaged. Those stains can be hard to remove. If washing won’t remove a stubborn stain, try this: Cut a lemon in half, dip the exposed flesh into some table salt, and rub it vigorously on the stain. But do this only as a last resort; acid can damage marble. Rinse well.

Make a room scent/humidifier
Freshen and moisturize the air in your home on dry winter days. Make your own room scent that also doubles as a humidifier. If you have a wood-burning stove, place an enameled cast-iron pot or bowl on top, fill with water, and add lemon (and/or orange) peels, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and apple skins. No wood-burning stove? Use your stovetop instead and just simmer the water periodically.

Neutralize cat-box odor
You don’t have to use an aerosol spray to neutralize foul-smelling cat-box odors or freshen the air in your bathroom. Just cut a couple of lemons in half. Then place them, cut side up, in a dish in the room, and the air will soon smell lemon-fresh.

Deodorize a humidifier
When your humidifier starts to smell funky, deodorize it with ease: Just pour 3 or 4 teaspoons lemon juice into the water. It will not only remove the off odor but will replace it with a lemon-fresh fragrance. Repeat every couple of weeks to keep the odor from returning.

Clean tarnished brass
Say good-bye to tarnish on brass, copper, or stainless steel. Make a paste of lemon juice and salt (or substitute baking soda or cream of tartar for the salt) and coat the affected area. Let it stay on for 5 minutes. Then wash in warm water, rinse, and polish dry. Use the same mixture to clean metal kitchen sinks too. Apply the paste, scrub gently, and rinse.

Polish chrome
Get rid of mineral deposits and polish chrome faucets and other tarnished chrome. Simply rub lemon rind over the chrome and watch it shine! Rinse well and dry with a soft cloth.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest