Sunday, 31 May 2009

Cleaning your house with... lemons!

Bu Julie,
Towards Sustainability

My apologies to those of you in the northern hemisphere, but here in Australia it's citrus season, and traditionally, no Aussie backyard is complete without a lemon tree! Although they are becoming far less common than they used to be, it is still not unusual to see large grocery bags groaning with lemons being given away in offices and over the back fence.

So, once you've satisfied your cravings for lemonade, lemon curd, lemon meringue pie and every other variation of lemon possible, did you know that lemons are a fantastic addition to your simple, green, frugal cleaning arsenal?

Tip: To get more juice from your lemons, microwave them briefly before juicing, or roll them briskly on the counter top with the palm of your hand to warm them up.

Meyer Lemons

Lemon juice is quite acidic, hence the sour taste. If fresh lemons are unavilable, oftentimes you can substitute vinegar for the lemon juice in some of the cleaning solutions, as it also acidic. The citric acid in lemons makes fresh lemon juice a natural mild antiseptic and mould killer. It is also a terrific grease cutter and deodoriser, so you could try any the following hints and tips.

1. Make an oven cleaner. Use a paste of 1 part lemon juice and 1 part rock salt to clean your oven. Apply the paste thickly and leave for 5-10 minutes. Wipe away with a coarse cloth and hot water, rubbing gently to remove tough grease spots.

2. Clean your copperware. Use a paste made from lemon juice and table salt to clean copper pots. Rub it on with a cloth and then buff with a clean cloth to shine.

3. Clean your silverware and brassware. Rub on straight lemon juice to bring back a shine to your silverware or to buff your brassware.

4. Clean and freshen your dishwasher. Cut a lemon in half and stick it on an upright in your dishwasher tray or add ¼ cup lemon juice to the soap dispenser before running a cycle, to remove grease deposits and make your saucepans shine.

5. Remove soap scum, calcium and lime deposits from your stainless steel or porcelain sink. Rub the cut surface of a lemon over the boards and taps and leave for a minute or so. Then buff with a clean cloth. For tough stains, soak a cloth with juice and leave to sit over the stain or deposit to soak.

6. Clean the interior of your microwave oven. Add a few tablespoons of lemon juice to a glass of water and heat for five minutes on High. Let the steam soak for a few minutes, then wipe the interior with a cloth.

7. Remove coffee stains from cups. Rub coffee cups with a paste of lemon juice and salt to remove stains.

8. Remove dried cheese from a grater. Rub with half a lemon until the dried cheese softens and comes away.

9. Remove stains and odours from your hands. Rub your hands with a paste of lemon juice and salt to remove beetroot and berry stains or onion and garlic smells.

10. Remove odours from your refrigerator. Leave a cut lemon in a shallow bowl in your fridge to remove odours.

11. Remove stains from Laminate and Formica counter tops. Rub the cut surface of a lemon on your counter tops and dry with a clean cloth. For stains, let the juice sit for a few minutes, sprinkle with bicarb soda and then rub gently and rinse with clean water.

12. Freshen and remove stains and odours from your cutting boards. Rub with a cut lemon or a paste of lemon juice and salt and then wash clean with hot water.

13. Clean your windows and shower screens with lemon juice (the juice cuts through soap scum). Buff dry with scrunched up newspaper to make them sparkle.

14. Use lemon juice to whiten the ivory handles on your old cutlery.

15. Add a teaspoon of juice to your humidifier to eliminate household odours.

16. Run a couple of fresh lemon peels through your garbage disposal unit to clean and freshen it.

17. Dry your lemon peels and store them in an airtight container. Throw them on a fire and enjoy the fragrance, scatter around entrances and kitchen window sills to deter ants and cockroaches, use them in pot pourri, add them to your vacuum cleaner bag to scent the house while you vacuum or hang them in a muslin bag in your wardrobe to help repel bugs from clothing.

18. Make a furniture polish. Mix 2 parts olive oil with 1 part lemon juice. Add a few drops to a clean cloth and rub gently on your timber furniture, then buff with a dry cloth. Make up the mixture fresh each time.

19. Make an all-purpose spray cleaner.
Cleaner #1 - In a spray bottle, mix two tablespoons lemon juice, ½ teaspoon liquid soap, ½ teaspoon washing soda, and one teaspoon borax in two cups of hot water. Shake until dissolved.
Cleaner #2 - Mix lemon juice, vinegar and water in a spray bottle.

Lemon juice is also a natural bleaching agent, which makes it also very handy in the laundry.

20. Apply lemon juice to ink stains immediately, leave to soak and then wash as normal in cold water to remove the stain.

21. Apply a paste of lemon juice or salt or cream of tartar to rust stains on colorfast clothing and then leave to dry in the sun. Repeat if necessary to remove the rust stain.

22. Whiten tennis shoes by applying lemon juice and then leaving to dry in the sun.

23. Add ¼ cup lemon juice to the rinse cycle of your washing machine to brighten your whites.

24. Make a homemade bleach from a mixture of lemon juice and bicarb soda - soak for half an hour before washing.

25. Use a paste of lemon juice and salt to remove mildew stains from fabric - scrub and then dry in sunlight.

So, there you have it! Twenty-five ways to use lemons to clean your home, although I'm sure there are more, so what are your favourite ways to use lemons around the home?