From eliminating cooking odors to removing sweat stains and hard water spots, lemons are a surprisingly versatile fruit. So, next time life gives too many, try one of these surprising ways to use lemons around the house.
22 Surprising Uses For Lemons
1. Make rice fluffy: Squeeze a little lemon juice into the pan while you’re cooking rice. The acidic juice helps cut through the rice’s starch, so grains won’t stick together. Squeeze a lot of lemon juice in there to add a nice flavor.
2. Get rid of sweat stains on white shirts. If you notice yellowing or rusty-colored sweat marks on your favorite white t-shirts or button-ups, squeeze a little lemon juice directly onto the stain. Let the juice sit for 20 minutes then wash the entire shirt in COLD water. Don’t use hot water, because it might set the stain. (Here are more ways to get rid of sweat marks.)
3. Repel clothing moths. Slice off and dry a few lemon peels then gather them in an old sock and tie the top closed in a knot. Hang this in a corner of your closet to repel moths. Replace when you can no longer smell the peels — about once a month.
4. Deodorize a wood cutting board. Wooden cutting boards pick up all sorts of nasty smells. Deodorize yours by scrubbing it with half a lemon dipped in salt, then rinse and dry it. Protect your cutting board from future odors by sealing it with a thin coat of mineral oil.
5. Brighten dingy cotton socks. Gym socks often turn gray after repeated washing, and they get smelly, too. Eliminate that nasty odor and make them bright white by boiling them in a quart of water with half a lemon for 10 minutes.
6. Keep fruits from turning brown. Sprinkle lemon juice on sliced apples, avocados, or bananas to keep them from oxidizing and turning brown.
7. Get tough stains out of plastic food containers. Tomato-based sauces and greasy foods often stain plastic containers like Tupperware. To remove the grime, squeeze an entire lemon into the container then rub the cut end all over the surface. Fill the container with hot water and put it in a sunny spot for the day. Wash well once the stain is gone.
8. Keep cauliflower bright white while steaming. Certain varieties of cauliflower — especially the purple kind — turn an unappealing gray when cooked. To keep cauliflower florets bright white, toss them with a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice before cooking.
9. Deodorize your microwave. Get rid of that burned popcorn or other microwave odors with lemons. Just toss few lemon wedges in a deep bowl and fill it halfway with water. Microwave this for 2 minutes, let it cool for a couple more, then wipe your microwave clean. Odor’s gone!
10. Repel flies. Keep flies away from your picnic by slicing a lemon in half then poking 10 whole cloves into the fruit’s flesh. Leave the lemon sitting cut-side up on your table and flies will steer clear of you.
11. Get rid of hard water spots. Cleaning white crusty mineral residue from vases, tea kettles, or even faucets is one of the best uses for lemons around the house. Just scrub those spots with a lemon wedge dipped in salt. Let sit 5 minutes then rinse.
12. Fade dark spots on skin. Don’t apply lemon juice directly to skin — it will sting and can make you susceptible to sunburn and further damage. Instead, mix equal parts fresh lemon juice and aloe vera gel then apply it to dark spots or scars to help them fade. Repeat every other day until it’s gone.
13. Fix overly-salted soup. Lemon juice can balance the flavor of a soup that’s too salty, too bland, or which tastes too greasy. Stir in a good splash then taste. Repeat as needed.
14. Make cakes and cookies fluffier. Many cake and cookie recipes start by creaming butter and sugar together. Add a small squeeze of lemon juice when you do this, and you’ll get even better results without affecting the taste.
15. Get rid of bleach smells on your hands. If you accidentally got chlorine bleach on your hands, you can get rid of the smell by rubbing them with a lemon wedge to neutralize the chlorine. Rinse your hands well and moisturize them heavily afterward to protect your skin.
16. Get ink stains out of carpeting. Apply a paste of lemon juice plus cream of tartar to ink spots. Wait 10 minutes then use a clean, damp cloth to remove the residue. Let the area dry and vacuum thoroughly. (Here is how to get ink stains out of clothing.)
17. Clean a burned coffee pot. Don’t panic if you find the coffee has burned on the bottom of the pot. Add ice, a little salt, and the juice of half a lemon then swirl it all around. Let this sit for an hour and the gunk will rinse right away.
18. Grill fish without the mess. Keep fish from sticking to your grill’s grate by laying it on a bed of lemon slices. The lemon will infuse the fish and add a nice flavor.
19. Remove coffee and tea stains. Whether you spilled coffee on your pants or splashed tea on your tablecloth, lemon juice will get it out. Dab the spot with a wedge then run it under cold water.
20. Fix fake-tan streaks. Dark tanner spots on your wrists or streaks from an uneven self-tanner application are embarrassing. Fix them by getting the area damp then gently rubbing on some baking soda to exfoliate. gently scrubbing the area with a paste of equal parts baking soda and lemon juice. The baking soda exfoliates, and the lemon juice lightens. Buff in for a minute, rinse well.
21. Eliminate cooking odors — even fish! Slice a lemon open and put the halves cut-side up on your oven rack after dinner’s done. (Be sure you’ve turned the oven off.) Leave the oven door open an inch or so. The heat and lemon juice will combine to freshen your home’s air and get rid of cooking smells.
22. Get gray cutlery marks off of plates. If your flatware is leaving marks on your favorite dinner plate, squeeze a little lemon juice onto it. Wait a few minutes then sprinkle salt over the surface and use the cut side of the lemon to gently rub away those marks.
Try these unusual uses for other things, too!