Tuesday, February 23, 2010
I don't know about you, but I can't go around the block without seeing a full tree of lemons. And that started me thinking, what are some usual and not so usual uses for lemons? I like to freeze the juice in ice trays for later use in recipes, our son opens up his lemonade stand, and my neighbor uses her lemon juice cubes in iced tea. But here are some uses I found online . . . some may surprise you . . . feel free to comment with your own lemon secrets.
Eliminate fireplace odor
There's nothing cozier on a cold winter night than a warm fire burning in the fireplace -- unless the fire happens to smell horrible. Next time you have a fire that sends a stench into the room, try throwing a few lemon peels into the flames. Or simply burn some lemon peels along with your firewood as a preventive measure.
Get rid of tough stains on marble
You probably think of marble as stone, but it is really petrified calcium (also known as old seashells). That explains why it is so porous and easily stained and damaged. Those stains can be hard to remove. If washing won't remove a stubborn stain, try this: Cut a lemon in half, dip the exposed flesh into some table salt, and rub it vigorously on the stain. But do this only as a last resort; acid can damage marble. Rinse well.
Make a room scent/humidifier
Freshen and moisturize the air in your home on dry winter days. Make your own room scent that also doubles as a humidifier. If you have a wood-burning stove, place an enameled cast-iron pot or bowl on top, fill with water, and add lemon (and/or orange) peels, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and apple skins. No wood-burning stove? Use your stovetop instead and just simmer the water periodically.
Neutralize cat-box odor
You don't have to use an aerosol spray to neutralize foul-smelling cat-box odors or freshen the air in your bathroom. Just cut a couple of lemons in half. Then place them, cut side up, in a dish in the room, and the air will soon smell lemon-fresh.
Deodorize a humidifier
When your humidifier starts to smell funky, deodorize it with ease: Just pour 3 or 4 teaspoons lemon juice into the water. It will not only remove the off odor but will replace it with a lemon-fresh fragrance. Repeat every couple of weeks to keep the odor from returning.
Clean tarnished brass
Say good-bye to tarnish on brass, copper, or stainless steel. Make a paste of lemon juice and salt (or substitute baking soda or cream of tartar for the salt) and coat the affected area. Let it stay on for 5 minutes. Then wash in warm water, rinse, and polish dry. Use the same mixture to clean metal kitchen sinks too. Apply the paste, scrub gently, and rinse.
Get rid of mineral deposits and polish chrome faucets and other tarnished chrome. Simply rub lemon rind over the chrome and watch it shine! Rinse well and dry with a soft cloth.
Prevent potatoes from turning brown
Potatoes and cauliflower tend to turn brown when boiling, especially when you're having company for dinner. You can make sure the white vegetables stay white by squeezing a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice into the cooking water.
Freshen the fridge
Remove refrigerator odors with ease. Dab lemon juice on a cotton ball or sponge and leave it in the fridge for several hours. Make sure to toss out any malodorous items that might be causing the bad smell.
Brighten dull aluminum
Make those dull pots and pans sparkle, inside and out. Just rub the cut side of half a lemon all over them and buff with a soft cloth.
Keep rice from sticking
To keep your rice from sticking together in a gloppy mass, add a spoonful of lemon juice to the boiling water when cooking. When the rice is done, let it cool for a few minutes, then fluff with a fork before serving.
Refresh cutting boards
No wonder your kitchen cutting board smells! After all, you use it to chop onions, crush garlic, cut raw and cooked meat and chicken, and pre-pare fish. To get rid of the smell and help sanitize the cutting board, rub it all over with the cut side of half a lemon or wash it in undiluted juice straight from the bottle.
Keep guacamole green
You've been making guacamole all day long for the big party, and you don't want it to turn brown on top before the guests arrive. The solution: Sprinkle a liberal amount of fresh lemon juice over it and it will stay fresh and green. The flavor of the lemon juice is a natural complement to the avocados in the guacamole. Make the fruit salad hours in advance too. Just squeeze some lemon juice onto the apple slices, and they'll stay snowy white.
Make soggy lettuce crisp
Don't toss that soggy lettuce into the garbage. With the help of a little lemon juice you can toss it in a salad instead. Add the juice of half a lemon to a bowl of cold water. Then put the soggy lettuce in it and refrigerate for 1 hour. Make sure to dry the leaves completely before putting them into salads or sandwiches.
Keep insects out of the kitchen
You don't need insecticides or ant traps to ant-proof your kitchen. Just give it the lemon treatment. First squirt some lemon juice on door thresholds and windowsills. Then squeeze lemon juice into any holes or cracks where the ants are getting in. Finally, scatter small slices of lemon peel around the outdoor entrance. The ants will get the message that they aren't welcome. Lemons are also effective against roaches and fleas: Simply mix the juice of 4 lemons (along with the rinds) with 1/2 gallon (2 liters) water and wash your floors with it; then watch the fleas and roaches flee. They hate the smell.
Clean your microwave
Is the inside of your microwave caked with bits of hardened food? You can give it a good cleaning without scratching the surface with harsh cleansers or using a lot of elbow grease. Just mix 3 tablespoons lemon juice into 1 1/2 cups water in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on High for 5-10 minutes, allowing the steam to condense on the inside walls and ceiling of the oven. Then just wipe away the softened food with a dishrag.
Deodorize your garbage disposal
If your garbage disposal is beginning to make your sink smell yucky, here's an easy way to deodorize it: Save leftover lemon and orange peels and toss them down the drain. To keep it smelling fresh, repeat once every month.
Bleach delicate fabrics
Ordinary household chlorine bleach can cause the iron in water to precipitate out into fabrics, leaving additional stains. For a mild, stain-free bleach, soak your delicates in a mixture of lemon juice and baking soda for at least half an hour before washing.
Remove unsightly underarm stains
Avoid expensive dry-cleaning bills. You can remove unsightly underarm stains from shirts and blouses simply by scrubbing them with a mixture of equal parts lemon juice (or white vinegar) and water.
Boost laundry detergent
To remove rust and mineral discolorations from cotton T-shirts and briefs, pour 1 cup lemon juice into the washer during the wash cycle. The natural bleaching action of the juice will zap the stains and leave the clothes smelling fresh.
Rid clothes of mildew
You unpack the clothes you've stored for the season and discover that some of the garments are stained with mildew. To get rid of mildew on clothes, make a paste of lemon juice and salt and rub it on the affected area, then dry the clothes in sunlight. Repeat the process until the stain is gone. This works well for rust stains on clothes too.
Diluted or straight, lemon juice is a safe and effective fabric whitener when added to your wash water. Your clothes will also come out smelling lemon-fresh.
Lighten age spots
Before buying expensive medicated creams to lighten unsightly liver spots and freckles, try this: Apply lemon juice directly to the area, let sit for 15 minutes, and then rinse your skin clean. Lemon juice is a safe and effective skin-lightening agent.
Create blond highlights
For blond highlights worthy of the finest beauty salon, add 1/4 cup lemon juice to 3/4 cup water and rinse your hair with the mixture. Then sit in the sun until your hair dries. Lemon juice is a natural bleach. Don't forget to put on plenty of sunscreen before you sit out in the sun. To maximize the effect, repeat once daily for up to a week.
Clean and whiten nails
Pamper your fingernails without the help of a manicurist. Add the juice of 1/2 lemon to 1 cup warm water and soak your fingertips in the mixture for 5 minutes. After pushing back the cuticles, rub some lemon peel back and forth against the nail.
Cleanse your face
Clean and exfoliate your face by washing it with lemon juice. You can also dab lemon juice on blackheads to draw them out during the day. Your skin should improve after several days of treatment.
Freshen your breath
Make an impromptu mouthwash using lemon juice straight from the bottle. Rinse with the juice and then swallow it for longer-lasting fresh breath. The citric acid in the juice alters the pH level in your mouth, killing the bacteria that cause bad breath. Rinse after a few minutes, because long-term exposure to the acid in the lemon can harm tooth enamel.
Treat flaky dandruff
If itchy, scaly dandruff has you scratching your head, relief may be no farther away than your refrigerator. Just massage 2 tablespoons lemon juice into your scalp and rinse with water. Then stir 1 teaspoon lemon juice into 1 cup water and rinse your hair with it. Repeat this daily until your dandruff disappears. No more itchy scalp, and your hair will smell lemon-fresh.
Soften dry, scaly elbows
It's bad enough that your elbows are dry and itchy, but they look terrible too. Your elbows will look and feel better after a few treatments with this regimen: Mix baking soda and lemon juice to make an abrasive paste. Then rub the paste into your elbows for a soothing, smoothing, and exfoliating treatment.
Remove berry stains
Sure it was fun to pick your own berries, but now your fingers are stained with berry juice that won't come off with soap and water. Try washing your hands with undiluted lemon juice. Wait a few minutes and wash with warm, soapy water. Repeat if necessary until the stain is completely gone.
Disinfect cuts and scrapes
Stop bleeding and disinfect minor cuts and scrapes. Pour a few drops of lemon juice directly on the cut or apply the juice with a cotton ball and hold firmly in place for one minute.
Soothe poison ivy rash
You won't need an ocean of calamine lotion the next time poison ivy comes a-creeping around. Just apply lemon juice full-strength directly to the affected area to soothe itching and alleviate the rash.
Relieve rough hands and sore feet
You don't have to take extreme measures to soothe your extremities. If you have rough hands or sore feet, rinse them in a mixture of equal parts lemon juice and water, then massage with olive oil and dab dry with a soft cloth.
You've tried countless remedies to get rid of your warts, and nothing seems to work. Next time, try this: Apply a dab of lemon juice directly to the wart, using a cotton swab. Repeat for several days until the acids in the lemon juice dissolve the wart completely.