<p>Tap into a lemon's natural bleaching, degreasing, antibacterial, and fresh-scent properties to successfully tackle all sorts of household jobs in an earth-friendly manner. Green cleaning experts share their best practice tips for harnessing lemons' powerful attributes to remove stains, clean and polish surfaces, refresh appliances, and even control pests.</p>
Stock Fresh Lemons
1. Cleaning expert Mary Findley advises keeping fresh and frozen lemons on hand for all sorts of chores. "If you only need a small section of the lemon, quarter the rest and freeze it. Lemons freeze for long periods," Findley says."I buy lemons on sale, quarter, and freeze them so they are always ready to go." Maximize the amount of juice you get out of a lemon by placing the lemon in hot water for 15 minutes or heating it on low in a microwave for a minute (before microwaving the lemon, poke its top to prevent explosions).
2. Clean the air. The Old Farmer's Almanac recommends simmering cut-up lemons in a pot of water for an hour or so; the steaming vapors will replace winter's musty smells with slice-of-summer scents. Or, spread citrusy aromas by sprinkling a few drops of lemon juice in your vacuum bag right before you vacuum. Findley recommends another air-freshener option: Mix lemon juice and water in a small spritz bottle and use the chemical-free spray to get eliminate fried food and bathroom odors.
3. Keep ants out. Lemon juice and lemon peels are pet- and people-safe controls that discourage ants from entering your home, according to the folks at PETA. Figure out where the ants are coming in, spray the area with lemon juice, and tuck lemon peels into holes and cracks to stop incoming ants in their tracks.
4. Mix up an all-purpose cleaner. Cleaning specialist Leslie Reichert creates her germ-busting "Happy Hour Cleaner" by mixing together 8 ounces white vinegar, 4 ounces lemon juice, 4 ounces vodka, eight drops essential lemongrass oil, and two to three drops castile soap in a spray bottle. Another Reichert formula: Let lemon peels sit in distilled white vinegar for a few weeks; the citric acid from the peels will be extracted by the vinegar to create a powerful cleaner.
5. Wash windows and glass. Place club soda in a spray bottle and add a teaspoon of lemon juice. No club soda? Use distilled water spiked with a splash of lemon juice to create your own glass cleaning spray.
6. Disinfect everywhere. Findley ensures colds and germs don't spread by wiping down door knobs, car door handles, refrigerator handles, telephones, TV controls, and other often-touched surfaces with a cloth sprayed with a mix of lemon juice and water.
7. Make a handy-dandy scrub. Combine two parts salt with one part lemon juice to create an abrasive scrub that you can use to remove rust, eradicate clothing stains, and clean piano keys, copper pots, cutting boards, and scummy shower doors.
8. Gain a painter's helper. Painting projects get easier with these tips from the Old Farmer's Almanac: Renew paint-hardened paintbrushes by setting bristle ends in a pot of boiling lemon juice. Lower the heat, let brushes sit for 15 minutes, then wash them with soapy water. Remove dried paint from window glass by wiping the drips with a soft cloth and hot lemon juice. When the lemon juice is nearly dry, wipe off the juice and the drips.
Improve Kitchen Operations
Reichert shares tips for using lemons to quickly rejuvenate your kitchen's mechanicals and dishware to make operations run more smoothly.
9. Refresh garbage disposals. Banish food odors by tossing used lemons into the disposal; or, throw in frozen lemon quarters to create citrusy scents while cleaning disposal blades.
10. Steam-clean microwaves. Put a bowl of lemon juice in the microwave and let it boil away. The lemon juice will steam to soften stuck-on debris so you can clean the interior with the wipe of a cloth.
11. Scour dishwashers. Place a bowl of lemon juice in the top rack or basket and run the machine on a normal cycle. The juice will mix in with the cycling water to remove hard water spots and iron build up.
12. Degunk grill grates. Spear a lemon half on a long fork and rub the exposed side across a hot grill to clean the surface.
13. Sharpen small appliances. Pop frozen lemon peels into blenders and coffee grinders to clean the blades. Turn on the power and let blades whirl.
14. Tend to dishes. Clean water spots off your china and silverware using a microfiber cloth dampened with a touch of concentrated lemon juice. Remove stains from plasticware by rinsing them with lemon juice.
15. Clean the cheese grater. For an easy way to clean your grater just cut a lemon in half and then grate the fleshy side of the lemon on both sides of your cheese grater, says cleaning expert Melissa Maker. The lemon oil and juice help to cut the dairy fat and break up any of those proteins. After a quick rinse you should find that the lemon does an excellent job -- and it also saves you from ripping apart your sponges!
Practice Good Bathroom Hygiene
Findley advises using lemons in the following ways to keep bathroom surfaces gleaming and sterilized.
16. Set fittings shimmering. Rub a cut lemon on metal shower door frames and bathroom faucets to remove water spots and stains.
17. Bleach stained grout. Carefully apply the juice of a lemon to grout lines to remove mold and stains. Lemon juice is an acid that can pit and damage tile, stone, and composite surfaces, so make sure you wipe up juice spills immediately. Reichert recommends the following grout cleaning formula: Mix concentrated lemon juice with borax or baking soda to create a paste. Use a stiff toothbrush to apply the paste to grout lines; let it sit awhile to bleach the grout and wipe off.
Clean Dining and Living Rooms
18. Buff furniture: Mix together one part lemon juice with two parts olive or vegetable oil to create a chemical-free furniture polish that hides scratches and leaves a high-shine finish. Rub the polish into furniture surfaces using a soft cloth.
19. Dust smartly: Reichert advises making a dusting spray using two tea bags, lemon juice, and 3 cups of water. Boil the water, add the tea bags, and let the mix cool. Put the mixture into a spray bottle with a teaspoon of lemon juice. Lightly spray the mixture on a microfiber cloth and dust.
Ease Laundry Day Chores
20. Care for whites. Use lemon juice to remove ink stains from white fabrics (place an absorbent clean rag under the stained fabric to absorb the stain and protect your work surface). Brighten white washables by adding a splash of lemon juice to the rinse cycle.
21. Eliminate laundry stains and washing machine odors: T-shirts with underarm stains get new life when treated with a 50-50 solution of water and lemon juice applied to the stain and allowed to set for 30 minutes before the shirt goes in the washing machine. Freshly washed towels smelling musty? Add 1/2 cup of bottled lemon juice to top-loading washing machines and 1/4 cup of bottled lemon juice to front loaders and rewash your towels -- take care not to stuff the washing machine.