Household Hacks: Lemons

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lemon slices

If you have spent any time in the kitchen, you already know that lemons are a very versatile food. But did you know they can solve bad breath, soothe poison ivy and even keep ants out of your kitchen? Read on to discover alternative uses for lemons that you can use around the house.

Soothe a sore throat: Simply gargle some lemon juice and your throat will feel as good as new. Gargling lemon juice also freshens your breath; remember that next time you're rushing out the door and are short some mouthwash. (via The Old Farmer's Almanac)

Clean discolored utensils: Is your silverware losing its luster? Wash each piece with a cloth dipped in lemon juice and rinse with warm water to return it to its original shine. To get chinaware back to its beautiful shine, scrub it with one part lemon juice and two parts salt. (via The Old Farmer's Almanac)

Freshen the garbage disposal: When you're done washing the dishes after dinner, throw a lemon slice or peel into the disposal, flip the switch and smell the difference. Before throwing it in there, rub down the faucet with the peel and dry with a soft cloth to remove water and soap spots. (via The Old Farmer's Almanac)

Keep bugs out of paint: When painting outdoors, drop a few drops of lemon juice into the paint to ensure that insects stay out of the paint until it dries. (via The Old Farmer's Almanac)

Remove furniture scratches: Rub the scratch your puppy left on the wooden chair leg with equal parts lemon juice and salad oil. To polish furniture, rub with one part lemon juice and two parts olive oil. Your furniture will look and smell amazing in no time! (via The Old Farmer's Almanac)

lemon peels

Soften hardened paintbrushes: Nothing is more frustrating than realizing you forgot to clean out the paintbrush after your last project. Don't worry; lemons can save the day! Save yourself a couple bucks and instead of buying a new paintbrush, dip the brush in boiling lemon juice. Lower the heat and let it soak for fifteen minutes, then wash the brush with soapy water.  (via The Old Farmer's Almanac)

Remove dried paint from glass: Apply hot lemon juice and let it soak on the dried paint until it is nearly dry. Wipe the lemon juice, along with the dried paint, away. (via The Old Farmer's Almanac)

Make your own air freshener: Slice a couple lemons, put them in a pot, cover them with water and simmer for one hour. The refreshing scent will make its way throughout your kitchen and home, and it also cleans your aluminum pots simultaneously! (via The Old Farmer's Almanac)

Clean copper pots: Cut a lemon in half, rub it in salt until the salt sticks to the lemon, and rub onto the metal. Rinse with hot water and polish dry! (via Reader's Digest)

Remove fish or onion odor from your hands: Cooking requires heavy use of your hands, and sometimes those lingering smells are just too much to handle. Next time you can't get rid of that fishy smell, rub your hands with a lemon or lemon juice and wait for the stink to disappear. Be prepared for the sting of lemon juice in any cuts or scrapes — but the lemon will also disinfect cuts! (via The Old Farmer's Almanac)

Click "next" below to read more household hacks for lemons!

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Deodorize wooden kitchen accessories: Rub any wooden rolling pins or cutting boards with lemons or lemon juice. You don't even have to rinse; the wood will absorb the lemon juice and any lingerings smells. (via The Old Farmer's Almanac)

Keep trash smelling fresh: It's no secret that trash bags can get a little stinky, even in the cleanest of kitchens. Simply throw a lemon peel in the bottom of the bag after changing it to ensure that the only smells that come from your kitchen are delicious ones. (via The Old Farmer's Almanac) If that quite do the trick, try doing the same with dryer sheets.

Keep animals from digging up your garden: Squirrels and neighborhood cats don't care how long you worked on your garden; they will still dig it up when you're not looking. Bury some lemon grinds just underneath the surface to keep the animals at bay. (via The Old Farmer's Almanac)

Remove rust: Make a scrub of one tablespoon lemon juice and two tablespoons of salt to remove rust on just about anything. Still not working? Try scrubbing with aluminum foil or use WD-40. (via The Old Farmer's Almanac)

Keep your vacuum fresh: Squirt a few drops of lemon juice into your vacuum cleaner bag to freshen the air in your home as you vacuum. (via The Old Farmer's Almanac)

Whiten socks: Return your cotton socks to their original bright white color by boiling them in water and a lemon slice. You can also get the underarm stain out of white t-shirt by scrubbing the underarms with equal parts lemon juice and water before laundering as usual. (via The Old Farmer's Almanac and Reader's Digest)

Freshen the fridge: Got a nasty smell coming from your fridge? First, find the source of the stink and throw away that item. Then, squirt a couple drops of lemon juice on a cotton ball and place it on a shelf in the fridge for several hours. Not only will the stink be gone, but your fridge will smell crisp and refreshing. (via Reader's Digest)

Keep insects out of your kitchen: Ants never seem to get the message that they're not welcome indoors, but they sure will when you combat them with lemon juice! Begin by squirting some on the door thresholds and windowsills, then on holes and cracks that serve as entryways for those pesky buggers. Finish by scattering small slices of lemon peels around the outdoor entrance. Bye, bye bugs! (via Reader's Digest)

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Clean the microwave: Oops! You let the microwave get out of control again. Use lemon juice to avoid harsh cleaners and excessive amounts of elbow grease while cleaning out the microwave. Pour three tablespoons of lemon juice and one and-a-half cup of water into a microwavable bowl. Microwave on high for five to ten minutes, allowing the steam to condense. Wipe it and the softened food away for a clean microwave! (via Reader's Digest)

Keep guacamole green: Making the guac hours before the party seemed like a good idea at the time, but now it's turning brown before anyone can get to the party. Simply squirt some lemon juice on the guac. The lemon juice complements the flavor and keeps it fresh and green. Use the same trick for keeping apples from browning! (via Reader's Digest)

Lighten age spots: Why buy expensive anti-aging creams and serums when you've got lemon juice in your fridge? Simply apply lemon juice to the affected areas on your skin and let it sit for 15 minutes before rinsing it off. It's a safe and effective skin-lightening agent. (via Reader's Digest)

Clean and whiten nails: Have a spa day with your daughter without spending the big bucks! Combine the juice from half a lemon with one cup of warm water and soak your hands in it for five minutes. After pushing back your cuticles, rub the lemon peel back and forth on your nail to clean and whiten it. (via Reader's Digest)

Soothe poison ivy: If little Johnny comes in from the woods with a bad case of poison ivy and you don't have any calamine lotion on hand, simply apply lemon juice to the affected area. It will soothe the itching and alleviate the rash.

What are some ways you use lemons or lemon juice around the house? Let us know in the comments below!

Want to learn about more alternative uses for common household items? Check out the rest of the stories in our Household Hacks series here.