Looking to put those extra lemons to good use? Check out these clever, surprising uses for lemons around your home.
Whether it’s adding a burst of flavor to your favorite dishes, banishing stubborn stains, freshening your air,ma or even frugal beauty treatments, lemons are the secret weapon you need.
1. Fluffy grain.
To make fluffy rice, squeeze a little lemon juice into the cooking water. Use the juice from half a lemon to cut through the rice’s starch and the grains won’t stick together. If you’d like your rice to taste of lemon, too, stir in the zest and juice from a whole lemon to the rice cooking water.
2. Brighter Pits.
To remove yellowing or rusty-colored sweat marks on your favorite white clothes, use lemon juice applied directly onto the stain. The citric acid in lemon juice helps dissolve the protein in sweat, making it easier to remove. Let the juice sit for 20 minutes (in sunlight if possible), then wash the item in cold water. (Need more help? Here are other ways to remove sweat stains.)
3. Moth Repellent.
The smell of citrus repels many household pests. To protect your wardrobe, use dry lemon peels to keep clothing moths out of your closets. Gather the dry peels in an old sock, knot the top, and then hang it in your closet to repel moths. Replace when you can no longer smell the peels, about once a month.
4. Eliminate Cooking Odors.
Both plastic and wooden cutting boards pick up many nasty smells. Unfortunately, those odors are signs of bacteria and they can affect the flavor of other foods. To deodorize cutting boards, scrub them with half a lemon dipped in salt, then rinse and dry it. The lemon’s acidity helps kill bacteria while the salt provides abrasive cleaning power.
5. Sock Solution.
Gym socks often turn gray after repeated washing, especially if you have hard water or use a well. Socks get smelly, too. To eliminate stubborn odors and get them bright white again, boil your gym socks in a quart of water with half a lemon for 10 minutes. If you have many pairs, boil 2 lemons, cut in half, in 1 gallon of water. Squeeze the lemons into the water first for best results.
6. Your Apple a Day.
Enzymatic browning is the reason fruits such as apples, pears, bananas, and peaches turn brown after being cut. To prevent this, sprinkle lemon juice on the surface. You can also soak the fruits for 5 minutes in a mixture of 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and 1 cup of cool water. These methods will inhibit the enzymes that cause fruit to turn brown when exposed to air.
7. Fix that Food Container.
Use a lemon to remove stubborn food stains from plastic containers. Cut the lemon in half and dip the cut side into salt. Rub the salted lemon over the stained areas, squeezing to get them damp with lemon juice, then place the damp container in a sunny spot for the day. Finally, wash the container thoroughly in warm, soapy water. The combination of salt and acidic lemon juice dissolves and removes the stain.
8. Keep Cauliflower White.
Cauliflower turns brown or yellow when cooking in reaction to oxygen, but you can use a lemon to prevent this. To keep cauliflower white during cooking, toss florets in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice before steaming.
If you’re cooking a whole cauliflower head, squeeze a whole lemon into the cooking water, or squeeze a lemon over the surface if you’re roasting it. The acidic lemon juice will help maintain the cauliflower’s white color.
9. That Burnt Popcorn Smell.
You can use a lemon to remove unpleasant smells from your microwave, including burned popcorn odors. Put a few lemon wedges into a deep, microwave-safe bowl and fill it halfway with water.
Microwave this mixture for 3-5 minutes until it boils, then stop the microwave and let the water cool for 2 minutes. Carefully remove the bowl and wipe your microwave clean with a microfiber cloth. This process removes the moisture and odors that have clung to the microwave’s walls, leaving it smelling fresh.
10. Fly Fighter.
The powerful combined scents of lemon and cloves do a fantastic job of keeping flies away. To use lemon as a fly repellant, slice a lemon in half lengthwise then poke 5 cloves into each cut side.
Place these halves cut-side up wherever flies are a problem. Use a plate or bowl under the lemon to protect surfaces, especially granite or marble. Your homemade fly repellant will work as long as the lemon doesn’t dry out.
11. Win Against Water Spots.
Hard water spots result from minerals left behind when water evaporates. To remove crusty mineral residues from vases, tea kettles, and faucets, scrub them with a lemon wedge dipped in salt. Let the lemon juice sit for 5 minutes, then rinse.
Repeat this process until the buildup is gone. The acidic juice of the lemon works to dissolve the mineral residue, making it easy to wipe away. Avoid using lemon juice on natural stone surfaces such as marble or granite, or soft or painted surfaces, like wood.
12. Fade those Spots.
Using lemon juice to fade age spots, dark spots and acne scars is a time-tested home remedy that works because lemon’s citric acid speeds up cell turnover while also lightly bleaching it. To fade dark spots on skin, squeeze half a lemon into a bowl and add an equal amount of water or aloe vera gel.
Use a cotton pad or swab to apply this mixture to the dark spot and leave it on overnight. Repeat nightly until the spot fades. Remember to use sunscreen during treatment and afterward to prevent the spot from returning. Always patch test before applying new substances to your skin, as lemon juice can cause a reaction in some people.
13. Fix Soup.
To balance the flavor of a soup that’s too salty or greasy, add lemon juice to increase the acidity. Start with 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and continue adding until you’re happy with the taste. Remember, balancing salt, acid, fat, and heat are the keys to creating delicious soups and stews.
14. Fluffy Baked Goods.
Lemon juice can be a secret ingredient to make your cakes fluffier. The acidity of lemon juice reacts with leavening ingredients such as baking soda or baking powder. This reaction produces bubbles, leading to a softer, fluffier cake. For optimal results, replace some of the water or milk in your recipe with an equal amount of lemon juice. You might start with 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice per cup of liquid.
15. Bleach Smells.
You can use a lemon to remove the smell of chlorine bleach from your hands. Cut the lemon open, rub your hands thoroughly with the cut side, and let the juice soak on your skin for 2-3 minutes. Rinse your hands well under cool water then pat them dry. Remember to apply lotion afterward since both bleach and lemon juice can be drying.
16. Carpet Ink.
To get ink stains out of carpeting, combine the juice of one lemon with an equal amount of liquid dish detergent. Dab this onto the stain, wait 10 minutes, then use a clean, damp cloth to lift away the ink and lemon mixture. Repeat as needed until the stain is gone, then wipe the area with a clean, damp cloth to remove the soap residue.
Once it’s dry, vacuum to fluff the carpet fibers. Let the area dry and vacuum thoroughly. Remember to spot test this or any cleaning mixture in an inconspicuous place first. (Here are more ways to remove ink stains from clothing and fabrics.)
17. Your Burnt Coffee Pot.
The easiest way to clean burnt coffee in the pot is by using a lemon and salt. Scour the inside of the pot with half a lemon dipped into salt. Squeeze the other half of the lemon’s juice into the pot and let it sit for 20 minutes to dissolve the burned-on mess. Fill the pot halfway with hot water, swirl it a few times, then dump it out and wash your pot so it’s ready for the next brew.
18. Free the Fish.
Some delicate fish like cod and trout can be difficult to grill because their flesh falls apart and often sticks to the grill. You can use a lemon to keep fish from sticking. Cut the lemon into 1/4-inch thick slices and place them in an overlapping layer on the hot grill.
Top the slices with the fish. This not only keeps the fish from sticking to the grill grates but also infuses it with a pleasant lemon flavor during cooking.
19. Treat Tea Stains.
The citric acid in lemon juice acts as a natural bleaching agent to remove coffee and tea stains. Squeeze half a lemon into a bowl and add an equal amount of water. Soak the stained area in this mixture for 5 minutes, then rinse it under cold water. Check that the stain is gone before laundering your item according to the care label’s instructions.
If you’re in a restaurant or coffee shop when a spill occurs, ask for a lemon wedge and dab it onto the stain, then blot the area with a napkin dipped in water after about 5 minutes. Use a fresh napkin to dry the spot.
20. Fake Tan Fix.
Fix self-tanner streaks and blotches by applying a cut lemon directly to the affected area. Or, create a homemade exfoliating scrub by combining equal parts lemon juice and white sugar. Apply the scrub using a damp washcloth. Let the mixture sit on your skin for a few minutes before rinsing.
You may need to repeat the process a few times for the best results. The lemon juice acts as a natural bleaching agent that removes the fake tanner, while the sugar exfoliates the skin. Remember to moisturize thoroughly afterward, as lemon juice can be drying.
21. Eliminate Cooking Odors.
There are two ways to use a lemon to quickly neutralize cooking odors in your home’s air. If you’ve been cooking in the oven, cut a lemon in half and place it cut-side up on the rack of a warm oven with the heat off. Leave the oven door open an inch. The heat will send the fresh lemon fragrance throughout your home, neutralizing cooking smells.
For a stovetop method, cut a lemon in half and simmer it in water for 10 minutes, adding cinnamon sticks or cloves if you like. This method creates a lemon steam that freshens your home’s air, effectively neutralizing pungent cooking odors.
22. Eliminate Knife Marks.
An easy way to remove gray marks left on your plates by flatware is with a lemon. Start by squeezing a fresh lemon onto the mark to fade the spot. Wait two minutes, then sprinkle salt over the area. Use the cut end of the lemon to rub the mark away, then wash and dry your plate as usual.
This method uses the acidic nature of the lemon juice and the abrasive properties of salt to effectively remove the marks.
Bonus: Freeze Lemons to Use Later!
Next time you come across a great deal on lemons, grab a big bag and if you can’t use them all right away, no worries! Freeze sliced lemons or even whole ones to keep them handy for these clever and surprising uses throughout your home.