You know what they say, when life gives you lemons, use them. Seriously, don't waste those little guys on lemonade! Lemons are good for so much more than a beverage or a garnish on your drink. These highly acidic, sweet and sour fruits are winter's gift to your kitchen. They make excellent additions to infused olive oil, and even aid in weight loss when added to hot water with its many health benefits. So this year, instead of using them sparingly, give lemons their due and put them to use in and around your kitchen, taking advantage of the many household uses for lemons.
To get you started, here are 17 unusual uses for lemon that really showcase the freshness of these little citrus powerhouses.
1. Refresh your cutting boards.
After months of chopping onions, garlic, and herbs, it should be no surprise that your cutting boards absorb some of that smell and become odorous. While other citrus fruits would work, a little lemon juice is the best natural cleaner around.
If a simple washing is no longer removing the odor, try rubbing a half a lemon on the affected area of the board or washing it in undiluted lemon juice. That way, you'll have a fresh, clean board ready for your next culinary experiment.
2. Wash your fruits and vegetables.
Some of the produce we buy (if it's not organic) is covered in unknown and unwanted pesticides. Don't risk ingesting these chemicals. Instead, spray your vegetables and fruit with lemon before you rinse them off. The antibacterial properties and citric acid combine to create a potent lifting solution.
One of the best household uses for lemons is using them as a natural disinfectant, which is incredibly effective but won't harm produce or change the taste. Dry with a soft cloth, and enjoy!
3. Prevent cauliflower and apples from turning brown.
Cauliflower has a habit of turning brown even if you only just boil it for a few seconds.
To prevent this, add a few drops of lemon juice to the water and watch your cauliflower stay as brightly colored as when you bought it.
4. Keep your vegetables crisp and bright.
Just because the weather outside is turning crisp does not mean that your vegetables will too. If anything, as the weather gets fresher, the vegetables that you can buy at the market tend to be less so.
Work to keep your produce in tip-top shape even in the midst of winter by squeezing a bit of lemon juice on them once you've chopped them up.
5. Deter insects.
No one likes insects in their kitchen that get into their food, so prevent an infestation before it even begins. Spray your windowsills, baseboards, and the entrance to cupboards. To help, you can cut lemon juice with white vinegar for an added boost.
Insects, including ants, spiders, and cockroaches, are highly sensitive to smell so if you spray the areas that they tend to appear in, you will deter them from even trying to cross your threshold.
6. Clean glass.
Choose the amount of fresh lemon juice that you need to clean based on the state of your windows. The grimier they are, the more lemon juice you will need. This is a great task for leftover lemon halves you might have cooking.
For a regular window cleaning, mix several tablespoons of lemon juice into a cup of water and then spray it on the glass. Wipe off the liquid with newspaper for an ultra-clear, streak-free shine.
7. Remove stains.
Almost any kind of stain - red wine, grease, mildew, or berries - can be removed with an application of lemon juice and salt. For tougher surfaces, scrub the mixture in and work to remove the stain. For an added bonus, add a touch of baking soda to the paste.
On more delicate surfaces, let the paste rest and soak up the stain. Once you wipe everything off, the stain should easily wash out.
8. Banish unsightly buildup.
Lemon is an excellent cleaner to cut through lime scale, calcium, and layered soap scum. Simply rub a half lemon, or squirt undiluted lemon juice on where these buildups have collected.
Add a little elbow grease and wash off with warm water. When you see the result, you won't be able to believe your eyes. If you want easier access to lemon juice, simply freeze as ice cubes. Pull them out when you're ready to use and voila!
9. Clean your sink.
If you have a porcelain sink, mix household Borax with lemon and spread the paste over those tough stains. You can even use it as part of a solution to beat that bad smell from your garbage disposal.
Let it sit up to a couple of hours for maximum effect and then scrub it off with a sponge. You won't be able to see a trace.
Pro Tip: This works for toilets, too!
10. Polish metal.
Along the same lines of cleaning a sink, another one of the simple household uses of lemons is use them to polish any of the chrome fixtures in your kitchen.
Simply dip a half a lemon in salt and scrub the offending area until the grime is washed away and the surface is gleaming. You can even use the lemon rind for this trick.
11. Loosen up your rice.
Rice that is either stuck together or stuck to the pot is not particularly enjoyable. To prevent this, add a few drops of lemon juice to the boiling water before you put the rice in, and it will magically prevent the grains from sticking together, or to the pot.
12. Combat heartburn.
Don't let yourself suffer! Try a lemon. Naturally this remedy will not work if you are getting heartburn from having too much acid in your stomach.
However, if you are lacking acid and that is causing your discomfort, a glass of lemon water will quickly fix you up. It can help combat nausea.
13. Help your hangover.
Doesn't just looking at this fruit make you feel better? Next time you're feeling a little worse for wear after a night out, try squeezing some lemon into your water or tea.
It will help you rehydrate while replenishing the vitamin C you lost and re-balancing your body's pH levels, along with helping if you have a sore throat.
14. Clean your garbage disposal.
Garbage disposals are full of nasty gunk that we don't want to know about and often don't until a peculiar smell begins emitting from them.
Prevent these smells from rising to the surface before they happen by grinding a bit of lemon peel in your garbage disposal periodically. Run hot water, then cold water through your faucet as you're grinding. This is one of the household uses for lemons works that deodorizes and gets rid of gunk.
15. Aim for streak-free shine.
Add a half of a lemon to the dishwasher on your next load of dishes for a streak-free rinse and a lovely smell no matter what you put in there.
Pro Tip: You can use this same trick while washing your tennis shoes in the dishwasher. This will nix any lingering foot smell and leave your shoes looking as new as the day you bought them. Plus, it's a more natural cleanser than bleach.
16. Make an all-purpose cleaning solution.
Lemon can really be used for anything, and has so many household uses. Simply squeeze a lemon into any kind of spray bottle and add equal parts white vinegar and water, so 1 cup of lemon juice for 1 cup of vinegar.
This DIY all-purpose cleaner will lift even the toughest stains and leave your home with an incredibly fresh scent. Who needs air freshener when you have lemons?
17. Add a little beauty to the home.
Thankfully, bright yellow lemons are a winter fruit making them easily available even the dark, cold days of winter. Use their sunny color to your advantage.
Chop them up and layer them decoratively in a clear vase or float them in a bowl of water on the countertop. Not only will they brighten your mood, but they will also freshen up your home.
This post was originally published on January 23, 2018.