The Power of Lemon

One of the best cleaning products in your home isn’t under your sink it’s in your fridge.

Consumer Educator, Teresa Hunsaker says if you want a clean, fresh house, tap into the power of lemon.

Is there a color that shouts “summer and sunshine” more than the color yellow? Is there a smell that says “clean and fresh” more than the smell of a lemon? I don’t think so.

The old adage, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”, really has a place in our discussion today. It is amazing what power lies in this simple little fruit in making our homes and lives bright and fresh….and it is environmentally friendly.

Insect spray: Mix the juice of 4-5 lemons (along with some bits of the rind) in 2 quarts of water. Spray around windowsills (inside and out) along the ground around doors and along foundation of the house. Ants, flies, and most other bugs dislike the smell and acidity of lemon.

Keep stray cats away from yard: If you have trouble with stray cats in the yard and bushes, after spraying around the foundation, take the leftover bits of lemon rind and scatter around the yard under bushes and around dirt they may have used as a litter box to keep them away. They do not like citrus smells.

Mosquito Repellent: Spray works pretty well for a short time…probably not intended for deep woods and long exposure.

¾ cup witch hazel
¾ cup water
1/3 cup lemon juice
5-10 drops citronella oil
5-10 drops lavender oil (or could also use lemon eucalyptus oil)

Mix together in a 16 ounce spray bottle. Shake well before each use. Avoid spraying high concentrations on bare skin if you are also going to be exposed to lots of sun.

Clean a toilet bowl: Make a mixture of lemon and borax (about 2 parts borax to one part lemon juice) to form a paste. Rub around hard water rings and build up. Let sit

Hard water spots off windows: Place straight lemon juice on a soft cloth and wipe down windows. Use the finest steel wool or toughie scrubber to gently remove the hard water build up on your windows. Rinse and shine.

Furniture polish: Mix juice of one lemon with 1 teaspoon of water and 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Place on a soft clean cloth and then rub onto the water marks or rings, scratches, or just to polish. Buff to a nice shine.

Stain remover for berries and grape on hands: Rub hands and fingers with straight lemon juice. Rinse. Stains come right off.

Brighten dull aluminum, copper, and brass: Make a paste of lemon juice and salt (or baking soda) and rub into the metal surface. Let sit 5- minutes, scrub, then rinse off. You can also do this for the dirty grates on your grill and it cleans them right up.

Deodorize a humidifier: Pour a few teaspoons of lemon juice into the water of your dehumidifier to keep it smelling fresh.

Keep rice from sticking: Add a teaspoon of lemon juice to your rice water to keep it from sticking to the pan and sticking together…makes it fluffier.

Crisp wilted lettuce: Place 2-3 TBS. of lemon juice in cold water with the wilted lettuce. Cover and let sit for about an hour. Pat dry and serve.

Veggie/Fruit wash: Put 1 TBS vinegar and 1 TBS lemon juice in 1 cup of water to help clean dirt and debris off rough textured veggies and fruits.

Homemade whole wheat bread lighter: Replace 1-2 TBS of liquid in bread recipe for lemon juice. Yeast likes a little more acidic environment for raising, so this addition works especially well when using a heavier flour like whole wheat.

Clean light colored laminate counter tops or grout in tile: Rub the juice of a lemon and some salt into the stains or grout to brighten and clean.

Laundry brightener: Add lemon juice (3/4-1 cup) to the load of laundry. Helps keep white clothes white and helps remove stains…ink, Popsicle, juice.

There are so many effective and helpful uses for the common lemon that it is difficult to list them all here….and we haven’t even begun to mention the use in beauty aids…like brightening your nails and making your hair shine.

If you have any questions, contact Teresa Hunsaker at the Family and Consumer Science Education Department at the Weber County USU Extension office at (801) 399-8203 or online at

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