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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.


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Image of lemon cut in halves and lemon juice on a table
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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.

Cleaning With Lemon: 15 Must-Try Tips

1. Make An All-Purpose Kitchen Cleaner With Lemons

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.

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

Image of lemon peels in clear jar with vinegar

2. Freshen Up A Smelly Fridge With Lemons

If your fridge smells a little dodgy, lemon makes for a super deodoriser. Leave a bowl of freshly squeezed lemon juice on the bottom shelf or soak a large cotton wool 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.

Image of lemon slice in white bowl

3. Learn How to Clean Your Oven With Lemon

Want to avoid the harsh chemicals in common oven cleaners but don’t want to spend an afternoon scrubbing? Let the acid in lemon juice cut through the grease 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 until you can see the water bubbling, then turn off your oven.

Once completely cooled, use a scourer and see how much easier it is to clean.

Looking for some deep cleaning tips? Read our 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 a 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.

5. De-Gunk A Cheese Grater

Box grater cluttered up with build up? 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.

Image of lemon peel being grated

6. Use Lemons To Remove Stains And Odours From Wooden Chopping Boards

This handy hack works on everything from coffee stains to the smelly 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 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 Dishwashing Liquid With Lemon And Bicarb

Run out of dishwashing 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 Taps To Shine With Lemons

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.

Image of lemon half against a sparkly tap

13. Clean Your Shower With Lemons

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.

Image of lemon half being squeezed against white tile background

14. Use Lemons And Salt To Make Your Toilet Bowl Shine

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.

Image of lemon half next to salt in a clear mini bowl

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