A kitchen staple for some, but lemons bring us more than just a pop of colour to our favourite dishes: the lemon is a natural little housekeeper. At BLANC we're just as fond of lemons as a precious nutritional ally, as a useful tool to keep the home in good health. Here are 10 practical uses for lemons to clean different parts of your home.
What makes lemons a great cleaner?
Have you ever been able to not make a scrunched up face when biting a lemon? We know we haven’t. Its sour properties are, chemically speaking, known as citric acid. The acid in lemons is antibacterial and antiseptic, which makes lemons kill bacteria, remove mould and mildew and even if done properly, remove rust. The acidity of lemons is, simply put, what makes it such a great cleaner.
Let’s take a closer look at the lemon’s cleaning powers.
1. The perfect rinse aid
Lemon juice is one of the best, most natural and cheapest rinse aids there is! Add the juice of just half a lemon in the dishwasher before running it and your tableware will come out whiter, cleaner and stain-free. Be careful not to add the seeds though - they get stuck everywhere and they're your dishwasher's worst enemy.
If limescale has taken shape on your taps, simply just cut a lemon in half and run it all over where the limescale is. Wait a few minutes before you rinse it off. For limescale in your kettle, simply pop a few used lemon halves into the kettle along with some water and boil it. Leave overnight and then boil it once again in the morning before emptying it.
2. Brighten your whites
Add half a cup of lemon juice to your next wash cycle of white laundry (along with your natural detergent), run it on a hot setting and soon bleach will be a distant memory - lemon is a great whitening agent, thanks to the citric acid it contains. It works wonders with blood stains for instance. For better results or for finer garments which cannot bear the warmer wash cycles, you might try soaking your white clothes in a large basin filled with water and lemon juice overnight. Do not use with coloured items though - it will likely leave bleach marks!
3. Get rid of unwanted smells
Having a hard time ridding your wooden chopping board of garlic or onion smells? rub half a lemon over it, and it will get rid of smells and bacteria. And while we’re on the subject of unwanted smells, we should let you know how lemons can leave your hands smell-free after a shellfish or fish dinner. Pour a bowl of lukewarm water and press half a lemon in it, rinse your hands and your hands are naturally fresh-smelling again. You can remove nasty refrigerator smells just as easily. Dab lemon juice on a cotton ball or sponge and leave it in the fridge for several hours to help freshen the smell.
4. Make a natural potpourri
Many household products add an artificial lemon smell to impart a ‘clean’ scent - why not do the same? Cut thin slices of fresh lemon and orange into a bowl. Take some fresh rosemary, mint and rose petals and place in the oven on low heat for two to four hours. When the herbs have dried, add a drop or two of your favourite essential oil then put the mix in potpourri bowls and place around your house. Your house will smell fresher than ever before.
5. Add sparkle to your faucets... and pots
Rub kitchen and bathroom faucets with lemon peel or the cut side of half a lemon. Wash and dry with a soft cloth to shine and remove spots. This works on dull pots and pans too, by the way, inside and out. One part lemon juice, two parts olive oil - mix well and you'll get a natural, cheap and chemical-free furniture polish you won't be able to do without. It usually works well to remove scratches, for instance. Also works on hardwood floors.
6. Remove rust
Lemon juice even has the magic to remove rust from items. Sprinkle some rough salt onto the rust, then add lemon juice. Let it sit for a while to help break down the rust. Wipe off the solution and rinse. Try mixing lemon juice with a little vinegar to make the solution a little stronger if needed. Not only will you be rust-free, but whatever you are cleaning will have a fresh citrus scent!
7. Keep insects out of the kitchen
No need to use chemicals-laden insecticides or ant traps to discourage insects from entering your kitchen - the lemon treatment is just as effective. You can squeeze some lemon juice on door thresholds and windowsills, as well as into any holes or cracks where ants or other bugs seem to be getting in. If you are having trouble getting rid of more persistent species, such as roaches and fleas: just mix the juice of 4 lemons (along with the rinds) with 2 litres of water and wash your floors with it - most insects hate the smell (we can't understand why...)