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20 Ways to Use a Lemon — Besides Eating One!

Lemons are a versatile ingredient that bring a little brightness and excitement to everything from risotto to apple pie, but the lemon’s versatility doesn’t end with cooking. The lemon can also serve as an alternative to all kinds of household products. With it’s high acidity and pleasing aroma, the lemon is a safe, natural way to reduce your reliance on harsh household chemicals. And, they’re cheap to boot. Here are 20 uses to get you started. Know of any more? Share them in the comments!

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  • To freshen the garbage disposal 1 of 20
    To freshen the garbage disposal
    For a quick way to clean a disposal, throw in a few lemon rinds, turn the disposal on, and flush with water.
    Image: Flammingo
  • Hard water stain removal 2 of 20
    Hard water stain removal
    For hard water stains on glass or tile, spray straight lemon juice onto the area, and scrub. You can also use a lemon half to scrub the stains.
    Image: Hustvedt
  • Air-freshening spray 3 of 20
    Air-freshening spray
    Try combining 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, a few drops essential oil, and 2 cups hot water in a spray bottle, and shake until the baking soda is dissolved. Use a few spritzes whenever you need a boost of scent.
    Image: Jaseem umer
  • Butcher block cleaner 4 of 20
    Butcher block cleaner
    To keep your wooden cutting boards and butcher blocks fresh, pour a coarse-grained salt on the cutting board and scrub the surface with a lemon half. Use a warm, damp cloth to wipe clean, and your cutting board will be fresh and clean.
    Image: Anthony Crider
  • Stain removal 5 of 20
    Stain removal
    For stains that you catch just after they happen, rub a few drops of lemon juice into the stain and then wash immediately. For more stubborn stains on whites, treat with several drops lemon juice, and hang garment in the sun to bleach.
    Image: Russell Lee
  • Shine copper cookware 6 of 20
    Shine copper cookware
    Dip a lemon half in course salt and scrub your copper pans to brighten quickly.
    Image: Jebulon
  • Brighten whites 7 of 20
    Brighten whites
    To brighten table linens or other dingy whites, fill a large pot with water, slice 2 lemons, and bring to a boil. Turn off heat, add the laundry items, and soak the items for an hour. For even more brightening, hang items in the sun to dry.
    Image: Detroit Publishing Co.
  • Clean a grater 8 of 20
    Clean a grater
    A lemon half is a great tool for cleaning and disinfecting a grater. To clean, carefully rub grater down with a lemon half and rinse.
    Image: Emj
  • Freshen the dishwasher 9 of 20
    Freshen the dishwasher
    Add a lemon half to the top rack of the dishwasher to freshen a musty smelling dishwasher (and the dishes inside).
    Image: Piotrus
  • Fill the home with scent 10 of 20
    Fill the home with scent
    In a large saucepan, boil 6 cups water, 2 sliced lemons, a cinnamon stick, cloves, or a few bay leaves for a fresh, clean house aroma.

    Image: André Karwath
  • Steam clean your microwave 11 of 20
    Steam clean your microwave
    Fill a microwaveable dish or cup with just over a cup of water. Squeeze the juice of a lemon into the water. Place container into microwave, and cook on full power for 5 - 10 minutes (depending on how filthy your microwave is). When time is up, carefully remove the plastic container, and then use a damp sponge to wipe the inside of the microwave down.

    Image: Baran Ivo
  • Polish and clean fixtures, counters, and sinks 12 of 20
    Polish and clean fixtures, counters, and sinks
    Mix liquid dish soap into 1/2 cup of baking soda, until you have a thick paste. Spread mixture on a lemon half and use to polish chrome, bathroom fixtures, countertops, or stainless steel sinks and appliances around the home. Rinse well after polishing.
    Image: Tomomarusan
  • Absorb odors in the fridge 13 of 20
    Absorb odors in the fridge
    For a stinky fridge, simply place half a lemon in a dish on the top shelf. For tougher odors, sprinkle the lemon half with a teaspoon of salt, and then several teaspoons baking soda.

    Image: Cosoleto
  • Make a lemon face and hand scrub 14 of 20
    Make a lemon face and hand scrub
    Use leftover lemons to make a refreshing face or body scrub. 

    <a href="Get homemade face scrub ideas here
    Image: Abhijit Tembhekar
  • For a sore throat 15 of 20
    For a sore throat
    For a sore throat, combine 3 tablespoons lemon juice with 2 tablespoons honey in the bottom of a mug. Add hot water, stir, and serve. For grown-ups, try adding some whiskey.
    Image: Jaime Mormann
  • Weed killer 16 of 20
    Weed killer
    Pour lemon juice in the cracks to kill weeds between bricks or a sidewalk. Note that lemon juice will kill any plant life, so don't pour in a place that will drain into plants you want to preserve.

    Image: Nicke L
  • Highlights 17 of 20
    Highlights
    For homemade sun-kissed highlights, spritz or comb lemon juice into your hair, and head out for some time in the sun. This technique can be a bit drying, but works well over several applications.

    Image: Daniel Christensen
  • Get rid of ants 18 of 20
    Get rid of ants
    Straight lemon juice can be used to deter ants in their path to your home, or at the point of entry.

    Image: USDA
  • Decor 19 of 20
    Decor
    For a quick centerpiece, fill a large vase or basket with whole lemons. You can also use whole lemons as the base for a flower arrangement.
    Image: Fernandoriveroramirez
  • Disinfectant for hands 20 of 20
    Disinfectant for hands
    For greasy, stained, or smelly hands, simply rub them down with a lemon wedge and rinse.
    Image: Lars Klintwall Malmqvist

Image: Hans Hillewaert

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