By Ann Sullivan
Lemons are a popular citrus fruit for cooking and making beverages. The lemon has long been regarded as a source of acidity to enhance flavors in chicken and fish dishes, as well as lemonade, tea and other beverages. There’s more, however, to this nutritional powerhouse than squeezing over your favorite dish. The juice of a lemon is very acidic. This makes for a great natural sterilizer and cleaner. It can be used in a variety of ways you may not think of. It’s easy enough to use in place of harsh chemicals. Whether it be odors, personal hygiene or cleaning, this little magic fruit can help you with many tasks. Here are 11 unusual and fascinating ways you can use the common lemon.
1) Clean & Preserve Produce
Fruits and vegetables can last longer when coated with a little lemon juice. The citric acid in the lemon will keep your fresh produce from browning as fast as it otherwise would. You can also use a little lemon juice to clean the skin of your fruits and vegetables. No matter where your produce is sourced, there is almost always some sort of coating, dirt or bacteria on the outer skin. You can also use lemon juice to preserve fresh fruits and vegetables after you’ve cut them up. Sprinkle a little lemon juice over apple slices to keep them from browning. Or, try adding a little squeeze into fresh avocado to keep your guacamole fresh. You can also add a little lemon juice to a bowl with some ice water to revive lettuce that may be wilting. This will restore the crispness and save having to throw it out.
2) Household Cleaner
Most store-bought cleaning solutions are laden with toxic chemicals and harsh odors. Lemons are the perfect natural solution to replace these cleaners with something fresh and natural. Lemons can be used to clean glass, chrome, stainless steel and more. Try mixing lemon juice with water in a spray bottle. This potent natural cleaner will make your bathroom and kitchen faucets sparkle and shine. For grime and soap residue, trying rubbing a cut lemon directly on the surface. This will clean and polish your fixtures simultaneously. To remove stains and brighten your laundry, add a cup of lemon juice in place of bleach. For tough carpet stains, add a pinch of salt to the lemon and water solution to create an all-natural stain fighting scrub. Using lemons for cleaning will not only rid your household of harsh chemical residues, it will make it smell and look clean and fresh as well.
3) Beauty Product Replacement
Lemons are rich in vitamin C and can be used for your skin in several ways. To lighten age spots and even your skin tone, apply lemon juice directly to the skin and leave it for 15 minutes before rinsing off. It may take a couple of weeks, but, Dr. Oz says you should begin to see improvement if applied daily. You can also use it on your face to even out and brighten skin tone. Lemons contain antibacterial properties. For this reason, they are very efficient at cleaning blackheads and other acne issues. Since the acid in lemons is also a natural astringent, you can use lemons to remove excess oil from your skin. Lemons can also help canker sores heal faster, as well as remove dead skin from chapped lips. Women’s Health advises that you do not put lemon juice on your lips if they are cracked or cut.
4) Teeth Whitening
Forget all those expensive teeth whitening products and treatments. Lemons are a very simple cost effective way to get that sparkling white smile back. Simply squeeze a little lemon juice over a small amount of baking soda in a bowl until it bubbles. Use a cotton swap to gently apply the mixture over your teeth. Wait exactly one minute, and very gently brush off. Rinse your mouth with water afterwards to be sure any residue is washed away. It is strongly advised, since lemon is very acidic, that you not leave this solution on longer than a minute, or use it more than twice a week. Alternatively, you can mix one teaspoon of lemon juice with one teaspoon of water and gently brush for exactly one minute, then rinse. The goal is to remove the stains from the surface of your tooth enamel, without removing or damaging the enamel itself.
5) Sore Throat Soother
Using lemon in hot tea, or gargling with lemon water is an effective way to ease the symptoms of a sore throat. The antibacterial properties in the lemon will also help eliminate germs that may be harboring in your throat and mouth. It can also ease or reduce the inflammation that adds to sore throat pain. Lemon can be applied topically to the throat or chest to ease symptoms of a sore throat or chest cold. Lemon also pairs well with honey or mint to ease sore throat symptoms. You can add honey to lemon water or place a piece of mint directly on a halved lemon and draw the juices out in combination with the mint. Alternatively, you can simply cut a lemon into wedges and eat it like you would an orange. Add a dash of salt if the bitterness is a bit strong for your taste.
6) Eliminate Odors
Lemons are very effective to eliminate bad odors in your home. To make a toxic-free air freshener, boil some lemon slices and leave them on a low simmer. As the liquid gradually evaporates, it will diffuse into the air and eliminate the smells. You can also use a wedge of lemon to freshen cutting boards or any other wooden utensils by rubbing it on the wood surfaces. To quickly freshen the inside of your microwave, put a slice of lemon in a bowl of water for 45 seconds to a minute. To keep your fridge smelling fresh, place a sponge soaked in lemon juice on a small plate on the shelf. You can place a few slices of lemon near your cat’s litter box to eliminate odors. To eliminate trash can odors, simply wipe the inside of the can with a 4:1 ratio of water and lemon.
7) Insect Repellent
Pesky insects can be a real nuisance in and around your home. Lemons can keep them away with their strong odor and flavor. In place of stinky moth balls, try placing a breathable cloth pouch with dried lemon peels inside your closet. You can wipe lemon juice on window and door sills or anywhere insects are likely to enter your home. For hard to reach areas, like spaces between appliances or cabinets, use a spray bottle. If you have summer ants invading your space, squeeze some lemon juice in their tracks daily until they disappear. Once they are gone, wash the area with warm soapy water. For a natural solution to fleas and ticks you can soak a sponge in lemon water overnight. In the morning, sponge your pet down with it. This will also treat existing flea bites and repel mosquitos and ticks as well.
8) Brighten Whites & Colors
Lemon is a great all-natural alternative to the harsh chemicals of bleach. The citric acid in lemon helps to break down stains. If you have whites which are yellowed or dull, add a cup of lemon juice to the rinse cycle of your washer. Hang your garments on a clothes line in the sun. The lemons enzymes combined with the natural sunlight will make your whites look new again. For stubborn stains, soak the clothing items in a half cup of lemon juice, or lemon slices, in a gallon of hot water for about 15 minutes. Unlike bleach, lemons are color safe as well. Just add one cup of lemon juice along with your laundry detergent and wash as usual. For more stubborn stains, such as juice, wine or coffee, mix one cup of lemon juice with two cups of water. Soak the stain until it dissolves and wash afterwards.
9) Whiten Fingernails
For a clean youthful look, soak your nails in a bowl of lemon juice for just two minutes. This will instantly remove stains from leftover nail polish or any other discoloration. Some highly pigmented nail polishes can leave residual color behind that nail polish remover does not always completely take off. Remove your nail polish first. Wash your hands and then soak your fingernails in straight lemon juice. This will work on toe nails as well. If you don’t have time to soak your nails, rub a piece of lemon peel over your nails and cuticles. After using the lemon juice or peel, wash and moisturize your nails and skin. This will prevent dryness. If you have dry nails, add a bit of olive oil to the lemon juice and soak for 10 minutes. The vitamins in the oil will help strengthen your nails too.
10) Weed Killer
Weeds can be a nuisance and often difficult to get rid of. Using toxic chemicals can pose a danger to our environment, family and pets. Lemon juice is a great natural solution. Simply douse the weeds in undiluted lemon juice and they will shrivel within a day or two. Treehugger.com reports this is a very effective, all natural way to rid your lawn and property of weeds. It rarely needs a second treatment. Although using lemon juice to kill weeds is natural, it could still cause eye and skin irritation. It is therefore advised to wear gloves and protective eyewear when applying it. Also, because the lemon juice will kill all vegetation, be sure to protect any nearby plants that you do not wish to eliminate. You can cover them with a plastic sheet temporarily while you are spraying the weeds. Also, avoid spraying on a windy day.
11) Mood Enhancer
Studies have found lemon water can relieve stress and depression, as well as brighten your mood. So, if you’re feeling anxious or down, try a little lemon juice. Lemon is a food that aids in providing the body with more energy. The fresh scent of the lemon itself is also has mood lifting properties. Lemon is available as an essential oil also. Simply smelling the oil can perk up the way you feel. You can also just slice open a lemon and take in the fresh scent to help yourself feel calmer and happier. Drinking a glass of lemon water first thing in the morning aids in the proper functioning of the nervous system. Depression and anxiety can be the result of low levels of potassium in the blood. Lemon contains high amounts of potassium, thereby aiding in a properly functioning nervous system and sending proper signals to the heart.