Sure, lemons make a pretty drink garnish and can brighten the flavors of foods, but they also have many handy nonculinary uses thanks to their natural antibacterial, deodorizing and bleaching properties. When life gives you lemons, don’t just make lemonade—put them to good use.
1. Grease Cutter: Because they contain citric acid, lemons cut through grease with ease. Add a few drops of lemon juice to your dish soap to increase its grease-fighting power, or mix ½ cup vinegar with the juice of two lemons in a spray bottle for an easy grease-fighting solution. For grease stains on clothing, rub lemon juice into the stain and let sit overnight before washing as normal.
2. Copper Cleaner: Remove tarnish from copper pots or discolored brass by rubbing the surface with half a lemon. Another method: Mix ¼ cup salt with the juice of a lemon, rub over surface, then let sit for five to 10
minutes before buffing with a clean cloth. Always test a small spot first.
3. Garbage Disposal Cleaner: Banish odors from your garbage disposal by tossing a lemon in and turning it on. If your garbage disposal has a hard time handling large items, chop the lemon into pieces first.
4. Cutting Board Freshener: Disinfect and deodorize cutting boards by rubbing a cut lemon over the surface. Let the juice dry, then wipe clean with water.
5. Hard Water Stain Remover: Rub half a cut lemon over hard water stains and soap buildup in the sink or tub. Dip the lemon in coarse salt beforehand to give it extra scrubbing power. Lemons are also helpful at descaling teapots and removing hard water stains from other appliances that hold water, such as coffeepots. To descale a teapot, boil lemon wedges inside the pot, then let the water sit for a few hours before rinsing out. You can also fill the teapot with diluted lemon juice and let sit for a few hours.
6. White Brightener: A natural bleaching agent, lemons can help you achieve whiter whites in the laundry room. Just add ½ cup lemon juice to the rinse cycle. An added bonus—your clothes will smell citrus-fresh!
7. Hair Lightener: Take your hair from dirty blond to beach blond by mixing 1 cup lemon juice (about four lemons) and ¼ cup warm water in a spray bottle, then liberally spritzing your hair. Lemon’s natural
bleaching properties work best when combined with sunshine. Expose your hair to bright sunlight for 30 to 60 minutes before rinsing out the lemon juice and conditioning your hair.
8. Fingernail Cleaner: Lemons work wonders on dirty, grimy fingernails. Just rub a lemon wedge over yellow fingernails to restore their color.
9. Age Spot Eraser: Lemon’s bleaching powers also extend to skin. To reduce the appearance of age spots without harsh chemicals, apply freshly squeezed lemon juice to the spots twice daily for a few months (be
sure not to rub lemon juice over cuts or sensitive skin).
10. Sore Throat Soother: Hot tea with lemon is a sore throat folk remedy for good reason: The acid in
lemon juice changes the pH balance in your throat, helping to make an inhospitable environment for germs. A good source of vitamin C and antioxidants, lemons also boost the immune system. Lemon works especially well as a sore throat remedy when combined with soothing, antibacterial honey.
11. Hangover Help: Help your body recover from a few too many drinks by mixing a few teaspoons of lemon juice into a glass of water. Lemon encourages the liver to produce bile and helps with the organ’s natural detox process.
12. Food Preserver: Prevent cut fruits such as apples and pears from browning by spritzing them with lemon juice.
13. Cheap Décor: Lemons make lovely and affordable tabletop decorations. Toss a bunch in a bowl for a simple but eye-catching centerpiece.