7 Ways a Lemon Can Help You Clean Your House

Cleaning with lemons can be as effective as cleaning with store-bought products.

If you're looking for natural, chemical-free ways to clean your home, look no further than the fruit bowl on your kitchen counter. Lemons have a surprising amount of cleaning power—citric acid makes the juice a natural cleaning agent that's effective at cutting through soap scum and tackling some types of stains.

It's one thing to recognize a lemon's potential, but it's another thing entirely to put the ingredient into action. The next time you need to clean your shower door or a cutting board, grab a lemon before you reach for the harsh, chemical-filled cleaning sprays. Here are several other ways to use lemon as a cleaner in your home.

Cleaning With Lemons

01 of 07

Clean a cutting board.

Because it's the place where you prep your family's dinner, you probably don't want to wash a cutting board with anything other than the most natural ingredients. Luckily, that lemon you used in the recipe can double as a board cleaner.

To remove stains from plastic or wood cutting boards, cut a lemon in half and squeeze the juice onto the board. Rub the juice in with the lemon half, then let sit for 20 minutes. The acid will work on the stains, revealing a fresh, clean cutting board.

02 of 07

Use lemon as a bleach alternative.

We all know bleach is the most effective way to freshen up the appearance of white clothes and towels, but lemon juice can also do the trick.

To clean stained clothing, add the garment to a pot of water with a few lemon slices, then boil for a few minutes.

03 of 07

Mix up a degreasing spray.

To make a natural degreasing spray you can use on almost any hard surface besides wood, combine 2 cups water, 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon Dr. Bronner's Castile soap, and 1 tablespoon baking soda in a spray bottle and shake well. The lemon fights stains and disinfects, while the baking soda acts as a gentle abrasive.

04 of 07

Remove stains from plastic containers.

If you have a closet full of discolored plastic storage containers, let a lemon work its stain-fighting magic (or you could ditch your plastic containers altogether).

To clean your plastic containers, squeeze lemon juice onto the stained plastic and rub the plastic with the cut side of the lemon. Then, let the containers dry in the sun and wash normally. Stubborn sauce stains will disappear.

05 of 07

Create a bathtub cleaning paste.

Mix equal parts baking soda and cream of tartar, then add a little lemon juice. Rub in this stain-fighting paste, then let sit for 30 minutes before rinsing to reveal a cleaner bathtub.

06 of 07

Clear off a cheese grater.

Cleaning a cheese grater can be tough on your kitchen sponge. After grating soft cheese or sticky foods, cut a lemon in half and rub the cut side along the grater. It will clear away residue while leaving a fresh lemon scent.

07 of 07

Remove tarnish from metal.

Cut a lemon in half, then sprinkle salt on the cut side. Rub it on brass or copper candlesticks, bowls, or pots and pans to get them gleaming. Be sure to rinse the lemon off the metal and dry thoroughly once you complete polishing. If you leave any lemon residue behind, the acidity could cause tarnish to form more quickly.

Want more cleaning hacks using things you likely already have around your home? Order Real Simple Spring Cleaning ($14; amazon.com), which has all of the cleaning tips and tricks Real Simple editors have collected over the years.

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