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Cleaning with lemon: 15 genius ideas

This super citrus is bursting with antibacterial and deodorising properties and packs a zesty cleaning punch. Here’s how to harness its cleaning power.

Updated

Lemon cut in half in front of a jar of lemon juice

The humble lemon is one of the best eco-friendly cleaners around. Cleaning with lemon – whether it’s the squeezed juice or the flesh of a lemon cut in half – is one of the easiest ways to cut through grease and grime, make things shine and add a fresh, zesty scent to your home.

Why are lemons good for cleaning?

Every single bit of the lemon can enhance your cleaning routine. Here’s how it works:

  • The acidic juices cut through grease and are a natural disinfectant 
  • The oils can help clean and shine
  • The scent is fresh and energising
  • The flesh of half a lemon (when combined with a little salt) is the perfect palm-sized scrubber

You can use lemon juice for cleaning all sorts of things: from rusty knives to gunked up cheese graters, streaky windows and even ovens.

Before getting started, a few words of advice: don’t use lemon on your marble or granite countertops as the acid can damage the surface.

How concerned are you about disinfecting while cleaning?

Cleaning with lemon: 15 must-try tips

1. Make an all-purpose kitchen cleaner with lemons

Jar containing vinegar and lemon peel

While there’s no denying the cleaning power of vinegar, its scent leaves a lot to be desired. For a DIY cleaner that's effective and smells great, simply half fill a large jar with leftover lemon peel, top with white vinegar and allow to infuse for a couple of weeks.

Then, simply strain your mix, add it to a spray bottle and hey, presto – a fresh-smelling, non-toxic all purpose cleaner.

2. Freshen up a smelly fridge with lemons

Bowl containing half a lemon inside a fridge

If your fridge smells a little pongy, lemon makes for a super deodoriser. Leave a bowl of freshly squeezed lemon juice on the bottom shelf or soak a large cotton ball in lemon juice and leave in the fridge. 

Even half a lemon, fleshy side up in a small bowl, will work a treat. You can leave it in for around a week before you’ll need to switch it out.

If your fridge is in desperate need of a fuller clean, try our guide to cleaning your fridge.

3. Learn how to clean your oven with lemon

Keen to avoid the harsh chemicals in common oven cleaners but don’t much fancy an afternoon spent scrubbing? Let the acid in lemon juice cut through the grease and grime for you.

Add the juice of two lemons as well as the lemons themselves to an oven-safe dish and fill 1/3 with water. Then, pop it in the oven at 65ºC for 30 minutes or so (until you can see the water bubbling), before turning your oven off.

Once it has completely cooled, get in there with a scourer and you should be pleasantly surprised and how much easier it is to clean.

Looking for some deep cleaning tips? Read our in-depth guide on how to clean an oven.

4. Clean your microwave with a lemon

Stubborn, stuck-on stains on the inside of your microwave are no match for the power of lemon juice steam clean. Fill a small bowl with water and add the juice of one lemon, followed by the lemon itself. Then simply pop in your microwave for 3-5 minutes on high (or until boiling). Allow the bowl to cool before removing it and wiping away any dirt and grime with a damp cloth.

The steam from the water will mix with the grease-busting oils from the lemon skin and deodorising power of the juice to loosen stains and remove bad smells.

For more, check out our other top microwave cleaning tips.

5. De-gunk a cheese grater

Grated lemon and grater on a chopping board

Box grater cluttered up with crud? A quick grate with the fleshy side of a lemon (even one you have already squeezed will do) is all you need – the acid in the juices will will soon sort out stuck-on cheese

6. Use lemons to remove stains and odours from wooden chopping boards

This handy hack works on everything from coffee stains to the whiffy remnants of last night’s onion chopping.

Just sprinkle some coarse salt over your board, adding extra over any stained patches. Then chop your lemon in half and rub over the board vigorously for a minute or two to loosen up stains and remove smells before rinsing thoroughly and patting dry (this trick also works wonders on butcher block countertops).

7. Descale your kettle with lemon juice

Removing limescale from your kettle is as quick and simple as boiling the juice of a lemon alongside a couple of cups of water.

Don’t have lemons handy? Our kettle cleaning tips using other household ingredients have you covered.

8. Use a lemon to clean stained food containers

Easily eliminate stains created by boxed up bolognese or spicy chilis by rubbing the affected area with a cut lemon and leaving it in the sun for a few hours. The sun and lemon will bleach out the stains.

9. Remove rust spots from kitchen knives with lemon juice

If you have a tendency to leave your knives languishing in a pool of water in the sink or (horror of horrors) running them through the dishwasher, you’ll soon see tell-tale rust spots showing up.

To remove them, fill a glass, tall cup or small jug with lemon juice and leave the knives to soak for 10 minutes or so, allowing the acid to loosen up the rust. Then, simply give them a good scrub and rinse.

10. DIY a dishcloth with lemon and bicarb

Run out of washing up liquid? Just sprinkle some bicarbonate of soda onto the cut side of half a lemon and use it just as you would a dish scourer. Don’t forget to thoroughly rinse and dry your dishes afterwards.

11. Make a lemon juice window and glass cleaner

Mix three tablespoons of lemon juice with a cup of water and use a spray bottle to apply your mixture to any glass surfaces. Wipe down with some newspaper or a microfibre cloth for an all-natural, streak-free finish.

12. Get your your taps to shine with lemons

Rubbing half a lemon on a tap

Speaking of shine, did you know that lemon is brilliant at brightening up chrome, brass and copper faucets and fixtures?

Just use the fleshy half to scrub the surfaces of your taps and chrome fixtures. Then simply rinse off and wipe with a clean microfibre cloth.

13. Clean your shower with lemons

Hand holding lemon in front of bathroom tiles

To get rid of persistent limescale and soap build-up in your shower, simply chop a lemon in half and rub over wall tiles and glass doors, squeezing as you go, before washing off. The acid of the lemon will even work to keep the soap scum at bay for longer.

14. Use lemons and salt to make your toilet bowl shine

Glass container holding salt beside half a lemon in front of a toilet

This is particularly good at removing pesky rings on the toilet bowl. Start by popping on some gloves. Then, sprinkle some salt onto half a lemon (or even a large lemon wedge) and use this to scrub all around the ring of your bowl (you could even add bicarbonate of soda for extra cleaning power).

If you’re looking to give your loo a deep clean, check out our guide on how to clean a toilet.

15. Mix lemon with olive oil for a hardwood furniture polish

Combine one cup of olive oil with half a cup of squeezed lemon juice and you’ll have a super furniture polish (just remember to only use it on hardwoods). For more, check out our guide to cleaning and polishing wood.

Eager to learn more about eco-friendly cleaning? Don’t miss our guide on how to find natural cleaning products that work.

Originally published