When Life Gives You Lemons - 30 Uses For This Amazing Citrus Fruit

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By: Sarah Rodrigues
Published: June 9, 2019
Last Update: February 13, 2023
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, right? Or so the saying goes. Maybe you’d prefer to slice yours up into something a little more alcoholic - or drizzle the juice on a stack of pancakes. There’s so much more you can do with lemons though - it’s actually kind of strange that the saying implies that they’re something we need to try to see the positives in! After reading these ideas, we’re pretty sure that you’ll be saying, when life gives you lemons - celebrate!

1. Suction Cup

Most of us know that gargling lemon juice and warm water will benefit a sore throat, but did you know that sucking on a lemon can also help to ease an upset stomach? 1. Suction Cup

2. Rinse-Aid

Buying fresh, citrusy hair products are all very well but actually, you could forget the fancy packaging (and the price tag!) and simply mix the juice of a lemon with warm water to give your hair a brilliant shine 2. Rinse-Aid

3. Heaven Scent

Used lemons might seem more at home in your compost bin, but adding them to your regular waste can help minimize the unpleasant doors associated with putting the trash out. 3. Heaven Scent

4. Handy Hint

After preparing onions - or fish, or anything similarly odorous - rub your hands with lemon to get rid of the smell. Just be sure that you don’t have any little cuts in our skin, or else - ouch! 4. Handy Hint

5. Stay Sharp

Tarnished kitchen utensils can be restored to their former, store-bought glory if you wipe them with a cloth dipped in lemon juice. Follow up by rinsing them in warm water. 5. Stay Sharp

6. Things That Bug You?

Insects preserved in resin look quite cool - in your paintwork, not so much. Bugs are more likely to avoid your drying surfaces if you add a few drops of lemon juice to the paint - and it won’t have any impact on how the paint applies or settles. 6. Things That Bug You?

7. Shine On

This one is especially good if you’re trying to reduce your use of packaging and chemicals: combining one part lemon juice and two parts olive oil makes a beautifully effective furniture polish. 7. Shine On

8. Dustbusting

Adding a few drops of lemon juice to the dust bag of your vacuum cleaner will help to imbue your home with a fresh, lemony scent as you deal with the carpets - who needs air freshener? 8. Dustbusting

9. Brush Up

We’ve all forgotten to wash and treat our paintbrushes after use - but when you find them, hardened and horrible, don’t just toss and replace them. Boil lemon juice and insert the brushes into the liquid. Lower the heat, leave for 15 minutes and then rinse off in soapy water. 9. Brush Up

10. Skin Deep

Lemons are antibacterial and antifungal, making them a great antidote for skin conditions like acne, dark spots and blemishes. Rub lemon slices over your face, being careful to avoid cuts or open wounds, which will sting horribly. 10. Skin Deep

11. Say Cheese! (Or Lemons?)

Hands up if you’ve spent money on store-bought or professional teeth whitening treatments? Save yourself the expense and DIY with a concoction of baking soda and lemon juice: mix them together, apply to the teeth and gently remove quickly with a toothbrush. By “remove quickly” we mean within a minute: this is a potent mixture and, left longer, could damage your enamel. 11. Say Cheese! (Or Lemons?)

12. Mug Shot

Most of us have probably looked at a stained coffee cup and registered the fact that if that’s what it does to a mug, then imagine what …. ugh. I once saw a cleaner pouring bleach into coffee cups, which didn’t make me feel great about drinking from them; on the other hand, adding lemon peel and water to a mug, letting it soak for a few hours and then washing it out will do the trick. 12. Mug Shot

13. White Stuff

The problem with many dandruff-remedy shampoos is that they’re full of chemicals - not to mention that they can be pricey, and who wants to be paying out money on something that might work? Treat your hair and scalp to a deeply nourishing, dandruff-banishing masque, combining coconut oil, olive oil, lemon juice and honey. 13. White Stuff

14.Bright Sparks

Get the kids away from screens and get them involved in a science experiment using at-home objects - it’s fun, educational and is guaranteed to astound them. Here’s how to make a battery - yeah, sure - maybe you’ll use it to charge a screen, but you’ll still have a quality interlude. 14. Bright Sparks

15. Give Dry Skin The Elbow

Grey, rough skin on our elbows has been the downfall of many a summer outfit. Be sleeveless-ready, and use half lemons as natural cups in which to rest your elbows and bleach that discolored skin anyway. 15. Give Dry Skin The Elbow

16. Bug Off

Ants a problem in your kitchen? Tiny fragments of lemon peel, cleverly scattered near points of entry - cracks, gaps, windows and doors - will deter them. These can be as surreptitious as you like: even you can scarcely see it, the ants will be able to smell it. 16. Bug Off

17. Cold Shoulder

Smells in your refrigerator can be minimized by cutting a lemon in half and leaving it to absorb odors. This method also means that you can cut down on your use of plastic, since you don’t need to cocoon everything in film! 17. Cold Shoulder

18. Sugar, Sugar

The flavor of brown sugar is just SO GOOD … caramelly, textural, maple-y and … mmmmh. Downside? It sucks up moisture like nobody’s business and consequently gets claggy, sticky and difficult to use. The solution? Add some lemon peel to the jar and it will stay nicely moist without getting gloopy. 18. Sugar, Sugar

19. Zest For Life

If you use lemon juice - in a recipe, on your pancakes, whatever - but don’t have an immediate use for the rind, then zest it anyway. It freezes well and will be on hand next time you're cooking or cocktailing - or next time your salad needs pepping up. 19. Zest For Life

20. Scrubbing Up

Make your own exfoliating, moisturising body scrub - and smell good enough to eat - by mixing together lemon juice, raw sugar and olive oil. Massage on, leave a few minutes, rinse off. Heavenly! 20. Scrubbing Up

21. Call The Coppers

Has your copper lost its lovely burnished glow? Summon up your inner domestic goddess and dip half a lemon into some coarse sea salt; rub it over the surfaces of your pans and it will look as good as new. 21. Call The Coppers

22. Out, Damned Spot!

Ugh - the nervous spill, the snorting laughter, the bumped elbow … all prime candidates for a clothing stain, especially where coffee and wine are concerned. As we all know, these are a nightmare to remove, but try this: soak the stained areas in lemon juice for 30 minutes or so and then scrub gently with a concoction of equal parts baking soda and water. Good as new. 22. Out, Damned Spot!

23. Beneath The Skin

Avocados are such a staple in our modern, clean, conscious diets now that a salad without them is almost inconceivable, right? Problem is, once you cut them open, they go brown so quickly, which tends to make your ‘wow’ salad look a little less impressive when you’ve prepped for friends. A drizzle of lemon juice prevents oxidization and will keep your good fats looking good. 23. Beneath The Skin

24. Cutting It Fine

Chopping boards are notorious for retaining smells - and who has the space for a separate chopping board for each and every foodstuff? Refresh your boards by rubbing their surfaces with half a cut lemon; leave for 20-30 minutes and then rinse. 24. Cutting It Fine

25. Top Drawer

Dishwashers can easily become somewhat less fragrant, no matter how good your detergent is. The answer? Simply add half a lemon to the top rack of your dishwasher next time you’re running a reasonably light (plates and glasses) load and it will refresh your machine. 25. Top Drawer

26. (Micro)wave Goodbye To Grime

Microwave interiors can soon become caked with bits of exploding and hardened food, which tends to make this modern day convenience seem rather less convenient! Avoid harsh or abrasive cleaners, which can damage your appliance’s interior surfaces, and instead, combine 3 tablespoons of lemon juice with 1 and 1/2 cups of water and microwave it on ‘high’ for up to 10 minutes. The steamy film it creates will be easy to wipe away, taking the muck with it. 26. (Micro)wave Goodbye To Grime

27. Lettuce Try Again

Soggy lettuce is all very well if you have pets to which you can feed it - but otherwise, it’s just an annoying waste. Don’t be so quick to toss it out though - grab a bowl of cold water, squeeze the juice of half a lemon into it and add your limp lettuce leaves. Stick it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes and voila - the return of the crispy salad. 27. Lettuce Try Again

28. Against The Grain

Gloopy, claggy rice has been the downfall of many a dish, which is particularly galling when you consider that it’s such a basic item of food - seriously, how hard can it be to get right? Swallow your irritation and save the rest of your appetite for your rice: add a teaspoon of lemon juice to the water when it’s cooking and just watch those grains go ‘fluff’. 28. Against The Grain

29. Close Up

Harsh mouthwashes might freshen your breath, but they also leave your mouth feeling unnaturally dry and minty. As an alternative, rinse your mouth with straight lemon juice: the citric acid impacts on the pH level in your mouth, nixing the bacteria that causes bad breath. Because the acidity in lemons can damage tooth enamel, take care to not leave it too long before rinsing well. 29. Close Up

30. Hanging Around

To keep your whites dazzling, you can skip the laundry potions and bleach - just add some lemon juice to your wash water. Not only will your clothes smell citrus-fresh, they’ll also have a little extra brightness and brilliance. Drying them in strong sunlight will take their pure brilliance to another level. 30. Hanging Around