Naturally Clean with Lemon
Forget the cleaning products under your sink. You probably have a very powerful one right in your fridge: Lemon, which adds such welcome zest to food and cocktails, is also a mild but highly effective cleaning agent.
What makes lemon such a powerful cleanser? Its high acid content, which enables the fruit to work as a powerful antibacterial sanitizer that combats common household bacteria, says Julie Edelman, author of The Accidental Housewife: How to Overcome Housekeeping Hysteria One Task at a Time. Here’s how to put it to work degreasing, deodorizing and more.
Freshen Up the Stinky Garbage Disposal
“Lemon rinds ground in the disposal will deodorize your sink’s drain 1-2-3,” says Edelman. “And bonus, unlike vinegar, which leaves no scent, lemons provide a clean, crisp aroma.” Just slice a lemon into chubby quarters, slip them into the sink’s disposal, turn on the hot water and flip the power switch. Run the disposal until you hear the “gurgle-gurgle-grind-grind” sound—when that noise stops, it means the lemon is chopped and swallowed up. Turn off the disposal.
Put a Shine on Metal
When it comes to copper, brass and chrome, nix harsh chemical polishes and instead put some elbow grease behind half a lemon. “Lemons are highly acidic, which enables them to cut through and loosen mineral deposits, making them easier to wipe away,” says Edelman. For extra oomph, before scrubbing, dip the fruit half in salt—it will help exfoliate the surface for added shine.
Sanitize the Microwave
The lingering smell of popcorn, pizza and whatever you might have heated up recently can overwhelm a microwave. Edelman’s advice is to cut a whole lemon into super-thin slices and put the pieces in a microwavable bowl. Fill the bowl with hot water, place in the microwave and cook on high for one minute. The citric acid’s antibacterial properties will kill bacteria while the heat works like a humidifier to loosen icky, caked-on food. Afterward, wipe the oven with a damp cloth.
Nix Soap Scum in the Shower
Instead of tending to the shower tiles, doors and fixtures with an abrasive chemical treatment, use this homemade natural remedy: Juice six lemons and pour the contents into a spray bottle. “The citric acid will break down hard water deposits and dissolve filmy soap scum,” says Edelman. “Also, the antibacterial and antiseptic properties will sanitize the space.”
When you run out of dish soap, slice a lemon in half and sprinkle baking soda on top, working the lemon half like you would a Brillo pad. Watch as the citric acid cuts, loosens and then dissolves grease, giving your pots and pans a shiny glow. Oh, and your dishpan hands will smell sweet!
Deodorize the Laundry
It doesn’t take much to combat the odors of work, the gym and the everyday grind. Adding just one teaspoon of lemon juice to the laundry along with detergent will provide a fresh, clean scent to socks, undergarments and other clothing.
Wash the Windows
Four tablespoons of lemon juice (either fresh or out of the bottle) mixed with a half-gallon of water makes an effective window cleaner—sans chemicals and streaking. The powerful citric acid dissolves dirt, grime and water stains, leaving your windows sparkling.
Sanitize a Cutting Board
Spruce up that kitchen workhorse—the cutting board—by squeezing a lemon half over the top and letting the juice absorb for 10 minutes. (It soaks into wood especially well, but this also works on plastic cutting boards.) This will loosen stains. Next, kill bacteria by using the fruit to scrub the board.
Clean Hard-to-Reach Places
Make a paste of lemon juice and borax. With a toothbrush, use the fresh-smelling cleanser to scrub tiles and around drains. This mixture is also ideal for all those evil nooks and crannies!