Several years ago, my son gave me the bounty from the two fruit trees that pretty much rule his backyard. My Mother’s Day gift of Meyer lemons weighed in at 124 pounds. I know, lucky me!
I had to figure out ways to use, share and preserve lemons in a big hurry. I juiced, cooked and baked all kinds of lemon things. And I learned so many ways to use lemons around the house, too! Who knew lemons could be so useful?
Zap strong odors. To remove odors from garbage disposals, you can drop in leftover lemon peels (cut them small so they don’t jam the blade). Or rub lemon juice onto cutting boards that have retained strong odors or stains. Follow with hot, soapy water. Clean the walls and shelves of the refrigerator with straight lemon juice. Rinse well, and then wipe dry.
Skin care. Treat dry skin with a lemon-sugar scrub. Mix lemon juice with sugar until you reach a slushy snow consistency, and massage it into your dry skin. Or cut a lemon in half; dip the cut side into sugar or sea salt; and use this as a scrubber on particularly dry areas, such as knees, elbows or heels. Be careful when applying to cracked skin because the lemon juice is going to burn.
Laundry treatment. You don’t need bleach or chemicals to brighten your white laundry. Add lemon juice to the wash cycle to get cleaner and naturally scented clothes. Lemon juice is also good for removing stains. You can directly apply lemon juice to the spot before washing the garment, or for bigger stains, soak the clothing in a bucket of hot water with 1/4 cup each baking soda and lemon juice.
Sore throat. There’s nothing like a Hot Toddy for a sore throat, but you don’t have to include the whiskey. Juice from 1 lemon in a cup of hot water will also do the trick, as lemons have antibiotic properties. Add honey for sweetness and you’ll have added one more germ killer.
Natural preservative. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over fresh-cut fruits or veggies to prevent browning. This is the reason why many guacamole recipes call for lime; in addition to the flavor, it slows the guacamole from turning brown as it is exposed to the air.
Weedkiller. Believe it or not, you can use lemon juice instead of harmful weedkillers to get to those hard-to-remove weeds that always come back, particularly in the cracks of your sidewalk or driveway. Apply it at full strength directly on the weeds using a sprayer. You’ll have the best results on a sunny day. As a bonus, lemon juice and lemon peels will repel cats and ants from the treated area.
Clean microwave. To get your microwave sparkling clean, pour about 1/2 cup water into a 2-cup microwave-safe measuring cup. Cut a lemon in half, and squeeze all the juice from both halves into the water. Drop both lemon rinds into the bowl. Microwave for 3 minutes on high power. You want the liquid to come to a full rolling boil. Do not open the microwave door for 5 full minutes. The acidic steam trapped inside will loosen all that food gunk like nobody’s business! After 5 minutes, simply wipe clean.
All-purpose cleaner. I just love the smell of citrus to make any cleaning chore smell so fresh and ... well ... clean! Check out this really cool way to make all-purpose cleaner from lemon and orange peels.
Fill a large glass jar about halfway with discarded citrus peels. Pour in enough white vinegar to completely cover the peels. Keep it covered in a dark place for two weeks. The longer it sits, the more oil and fragrance will infuse into the vinegar. Once you feel it’s ready to go, strain this citrus cleaner using a fine mesh sieve placed over a large bowl. Discard the peels. Pour the liquid into a spray bottle, and use it as you would any all-purpose cleaner. Amazing!
Mary Hunt writes this column for Creators Syndicate. She is the founder of www.EverydayCheapskate.com, a lifestyle blog, and the author of “Debt-Proof Living. Submit comments or tips or address questions on her website. She will answer questions of general interest via this column, but letters cannot be answered individually.