Lemons are among the most versatile fruits in the world. This highly acidic fruit adds a fresh, delightful zing to food and cocktails, and it can also get your household looking sparkling-clean and leave a pleasant scent.
“Lemons can be used to cut grease and grime throughout the house, and will leave your home smelling good,” says Jenn Slavich, who runs the blog Home by Jenn. What’s more, lemons are nontoxic and inexpensive, so they’re worth having on hand all the time.
As for cleaning power, lemons have antibacterial properties because of their low pH level and can be used to deodorize and disinfect your home.
Here are a few ways to use lemons to get a fresh, clean home.
1. Eliminate grout
Grout lines attract dirt and grime and can make your pretty tile look gross.
“The gray-colored film that lines your bathtub and shower walls is a nasty combination of water minerals, body oil, skin cells, dirt, and soap residue,” says James Conner, vice president of operations at Molly Maid. “The acid in the lemon juice breaks down dirt and bacteria found in soap scum.”
To remove soap scum, cut a lemon in half and rub it on all scummy surfaces. Let the lemon juice sit for 30 minutes, and then scrub with a toothbrush or washcloth to remove loosened grime. Rinse the surface to wash the soap scum away.
“For added effectiveness when removing soap scum, dip the cut lemon in kosher salt. The salt provides additional abrasiveness to scrub grime away,” says Conner.
2. Shine glass and mirrors
Spotty, streaky glass and mirrors can make your home look dirty. Get them gleaming again with lemon.
“A mixture of lemon and water and the use of a microfiber cloth will clean your mirrors, windows, and glass without leaving streaks,” says Slavich.
You can also combine equal parts lemon juice, white vinegar, and water in a spray bottle to spray on glass and mirrors. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes, and then wipe.
3. Clean the microwave
Daily use of a microwave can cause stubborn food stains (like spaghetti splatter) to accumulate all over the inside of your microwave.
To get rid of these stains, Slavich suggests slicing a lemon and putting it in a bowl with 3 cups water.
“Let the microwave run for seven minutes, then let the bowl sit in the microwave for about 10 minutes. The steam will release stuck-on food. Wipe clean with a dishcloth or sponge,” says Slavich.
Conner says adding vinegar to lemon makes the perfect nontoxic solution to clean the inside of your microwave. He recommends filling a microwave-safe dish with a mixture of water, lemon juice, and vinegar, and running the microwave on high for at least two minutes, or until it begins to steam.
“Let the bowl steam for at least five minutes. Once the bowl is cool enough to handle, dip a microfiber cloth into the mixture and scrub for a fresh-smelling, mess-free microwave,” says Conner.
4. Wash your fruits and vegetables
Commercially grown fruits and vegetables can have pesticides and other contaminants on them. But lemon is a natural disinfectant that can help remove the toxins and keep your family safe.
“Use a mixture of quarter-cup lemon juice and 2 cups water. Allow your fruits and veggies to soak for about five minutes. Then rinse and store them away,” says Slavich.
Lemon can also be used to keep fruits like avocados or apples from going brown. After cutting, squeeze a bit of lemon juice on the part of the fruit that will be exposed to air.
5. Descale the coffee maker and teakettle
Coffee makers and teakettles are probably the most used devices in your home. But unfortunately both can succumb to hard-water buildup, which can bring a foul taste to your hot beverages.
“For teakettles, run a mixture of lemon water: half-cup lemon juice and 4 cups water. Allow to boil, let sit for 10 minutes, and rinse clean. To descale a coffee maker, run lemon water through the coffee cycle. Then rinse with water by running the cycle twice with plain water,” says Slavich.
6. Shine brass
Is your brass looking a little dull?
“Brass or chrome fixtures become dull very easily. Lemons are a great way to keep these shiny,” says Conner. Simply slice a lemon in half and rub it all over your brass to shine it right up.
And while you’re at it, consider using those lemons on chrome shower heads, faucets, and drain covers that have buildup from hard water.
“Rub the fixtures with the lemon until you see the spots disappearing. Then rinse with water and dry with a soft cloth,” says Conner. “With hardly any effort, your shower fixtures can look sparkling new.”
7. Deodorize cutting board
Your kitchen cutting board probably sees a lot of action; unfortunately, it also has the smell and residue to show for it. But lemons can take care of that, too.
“Cut a lemon in half, and rub the lemon over the cutting board to get rid of odors. You can do the same with countertops and your hands,” says Slavich.
Conner suggests buffing out stains and odors from the cutting board by dipping a lemon half into some coarse salt and scrub before washing.
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