You already know that lemons are useful, not only in just about any kind of recipe you can imagine (just ask Tracee Ellis Ross!), but also for keeping your home fresh and clean. Here are 10 things you need to know about using lemons around the house, from super simple cleaning solutions to what can—and shouldn't ever—be mixed with lemon juice.
1. It can neutralize the smell of vinegar.
Love cleaning with vinegar, but hate the smell? Try mixing in lemon juice—it'll help tone down the smell a little bit, and still give you all the cleaning power you need. Plus, that lemon-vinegar mixture can come in particularly handy for certain cleaning tasks, but we'll get to that in a sec.
2. Lemon juice can clean glass.
If you're looking for a more natural way to clean your windows and other glass surfaces around your home, consider that aforementioned lemon juice and vinegar mixture your new go-to. To create an easy DIY glass cleaning spray at home, WikiHow suggests shaking up 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice in an empty spray bottle, then pouring in 1 cup of hot (but not boiling) water and shaking to mix it again.
3. Lemon juice is a great degreaser.
Lemon juice and vinegar also make a great degreaser, so the next time you're facing a greasy stovetop, you know what to do. Mix 1/2 cup of lemon juice and 2 cups of white vinegar in a spray bottle to make your own degreasing kitchen spray. Simply spritz and wipe up with a rag or paper towels.
4. Lemon + coarse salt = your new dish-scrubbing BFF.
If you're doing the dishes and facing stubbornly stuck-on food, Kitchn has a super simple solution: use a recently juiced half of a lemon and some coarse salt to scrub it all off easily.
5. Lemons can help you clean your microwave.
A little bit of water and lemon is all you need to get your microwave sparkling clean, according to Kitchn. Just put 1/2 a cup of lemon juice in a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup, squeeze both halves of a lemon into the water and drop in the halves. Microwave the mixture for 3 minutes or until it comes to a boil, then let it sit for 5 minutes without opening the door to allow the steam to loosen up stuck on food residue. Afterwards, wipe the microwave clean.
6. Lemon juice is a natural stain remover.
Lemon (and lime) juice is a natural bleaching agent so you can use it as a stain remover. Yellow sweat and deodorant stains don't stand a chance against a little lemon and some elbow grease, and it's also great for taking on rust stains. Just don't use it on colorful fabrics, as it can cause discoloration.
7. Ant problem? Save your lemon peels.
If you're dealing with ants in your home, lemons (at least, the peels) can help you get rid of them and keep them out. How? Just put your lemon peels in a pot, add enough vinegar to cover them, then heat the mixture until it's steaming hot (but not boiling), turn it off and let it sit overnight. Strain the liquid into a spray bottle, and spritz it wherever you've seen those pesky ants.
8. You don't have to juice the lemons yourself.
Sure, you can buy lemons and juice them yourself, but if you want all the cleaning benefits of lemons without putting in extra effort—at least for cleaning solutions where you don't need the whole lemon or the peels—you can buy large bottles of 100% lemon juice at your local grocery store (usually around $2, so it's a great way to save money, too!).
9. Don't use lemon on marble or brass-plated surfaces.
If you have marble surfaces in your home, make sure you never use lemons to clean them—acids like lemon juice can etch marble and leave marks and stains. And while lemon comes in handy for shining real brass, brass-plated items can be damaged by lemon juice.
10. Never mix lemon with bleach.
You already know that you can't mix ammonia with bleach because it can be dangerous, but in general, acids—like vinegar and lemon juice—and bleach should also never be mixed. Mixing lemon juice with bleach can release a toxic chlorine gas, so be careful to always keep these cleaning ingredients safely separate.
For more handy ways to use lemons → 21 Things You Can Do With Lemons and Lemon Juice (That Don't Involve Food)