When life give you lemons, don’t make lemonade — use them for these brilliant lemon hacks! The little yellow fruit can help keep your house clean, boost your health, and generally make life easier.
1. Lift tarnish from utensils.
The extra set of silverware you like to use for alfresco dining is in need of some serious polishing. To get it sparkling again, mix 1 tsp. of baking soda with 4 tsp. of lemon juice to make a paste. Dip a clean cotton cloth into the paste and rub over discolored areas on each utensil. Rinse when finished.
The chemical reaction between the lemon and baking soda will dissolve tarnish.
2. Lift stains without using bleach.
When tea, coffee, wine, or other tannin-based sips stain clothing, try this all-natural solution: Dab with a cotton ball dipped in equal parts lemon juice and water. (Just be sure to test in an inconspicuous spot first.)
Lemon’s citric acid is a gentle bleach that will dissolve the stubborn tannins.
3. Prevent rice from clumping.
Your family loves having rice with dinner, but it often ends up being sticky when you’re finally ready to sit down and eat. The easy fix: Add a few drops of lemon juice to the boiling water before cooking.
Citric acid in the fruit’s juice will break down the starch in the rice that causes the granules to stick together without affecting the overall flavor of your dish.
4. Rid fresh produce of bacteria.
You love snagging your favorite fruits and veggies from the farmers market, but you want to make sure they’re clean enough to eat once you get them home. The solution: Create a homemade wash with lemon!
To do: In a large bowl, add 2 Tbs. of lemon juice to 10 cups of water. Soak produce for 5 minutes, then rinse with fresh water. Lemon’s citric acid will kill off E. coli and other harmful bacteria.
5. Cat-proof any indoor plants.
Argh! Lately, Mittens has been snacking on your lush houseplants. To help nix the habit, saturate a cotton ball with lemon juice and rub it around the rim of the planter.
The strong citrus scent will be bothersome to your sweetie’s sensitive nose, so she’ll avoid getting near your greenery.
6. Eliminate dishwasher odor.
An easy way to banish unpleasant smells coming from your dishwasher: Squeeze the juice of two lemons into the liquid detergent compartment. Then run on empty and set to steam dry.
The lemon will neutralize odor while the steam will disperse the scent.
7. Restore shine to yellowed nails.
You can’t wait to treat yourself to an at-home manicure, but when you remove the old polish, you notice your nails are a bit yellow. To the rescue: lemon hacks!
Simply add 1 cup of water and the juice from half a lemon to a bowl, then soak nails for 5 minutes. Alpha-hydroxy acids in the juice brighten nail fibers and banish stains.
8. Soothe a sore throat naturally.
Ragweed allergy season has left your throat feeling uncomfortably scratchy lately. To soothe it naturally, juice half a fresh lemon into a cup of hot water. Then stir in 2 tsp. of honey and drink.
Hot water will relax throat muscles, while the lemon and honey contain antimicrobial properties that will have you feeling better in no time. Repeat as needed until the unpleasant symptoms subside. See, lemon hacks can even be good for your health!
9. Remove mud spots from leather.
During a day of running errands, you accidentally got caught in wet weather, and now the leather sandals you were wearing are splattered with mud. The fast way to remove it: Mix 1⁄4 cup of lemon juice and 1⁄2 cup of vegetable oil in a spray bottle, spritz the shoe, then buff with a soft, clean cloth.
Lemon’s acids will cut through dirt while the oil will nourish the dried-out leather, leaving the sandals as good as new!
10. Revive rock-hard paintbrushes.
Oops! You forgot to wash the paintbrushes after your virtual paint-and-sip party, and now the bristles are hard from dried paint. To revive them, bring 3 parts lemon juice and 1 part water in a pot or saucepan to a boil. Pour into a bucket then soak the brushes for 15 minutes.
Acids in the fruit will break down the paint, softening the bristles as a result.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.