10 Ways You Can Use Lemons as a Natural Cleanser in the Kitchen
You know what they say — when life gives you lemons, clean the kitchen.
The mention of lemons likely conjures up images of tart and tangy lemon bars, lemon meringue pie, or sweet and refreshing lemonade on a hot summer's day. But lemons hold potential far beyond starring in delicious food and drink. In fact, you can use lemons to cleanse and totally refresh your kitchen. The juices of these citrus fruits are naturally antiseptic and antibacterial due to their acidity. (Note: Although lemons are considered a natural disinfectant, they shouldn't be substituted when you really need a strong chemical based disinfectant like bleach.)
Lemons are a natural and eco-friendly alternative to harsh cleansers. Plus, lemons will leave a refreshing and citrusy aroma, too. For most of these cleaning remedies you can choose fresh lemons or stock up on bottled lemon juice, whatever is more convenient for your household.
Here are 10 ways you can use lemons to help clean the kitchen.
Add a few lemon wedges to the Dishwasher.
Even the dishwasher can use a little help in keeping your plates, silverware, and other utensils sparkling clean. Let lemons work their magic here. Place a few lemon slices on the top rack or fill a small container, placed on the top rack, with about a cup of lemon juice and then run the dishwasher on the normal cycle. Ta-da, you'll notice everything is a bit brighter and shinier.
Clean the blender.
If you use your blender frequently you may notice stains or hard water build up on the glass pitcher. Consider mixing lemon juice, a tiny bit of dishwashing liquid (or opt for 2 tablespoons of baking soda), and some hot water. Then, hit the high speed button for about half a minute. Disconnect the power cord before scrubbing the pitcher with a sponge.
Clean the microwave.
The microwave may be an area that requires continuous cleaning, especially if you use it multiple times a day. Maybe sauce has splattered against the walls or there are unsightly stuck-on food pieces. Don't worry, cleaning it will be a cinch from here on out.
Cut half a lemon, or just use leftover juiced lemon rinds, and place in a mug or bowl with water. (Alternatively, you can add lemon juice to the water.) Heat in the microwave for a few minutes or until the water is boiling. Now, this part is crucial: Don't immediately open the microwave door, instead let the lemon water sit for another few minutes so that the steam can perform its magic. Then, remove the water and wipe down all of the microwave's interior surfaces with a cloth; the grime will melt away with ease.
Deodorize the fridge.
If you're noticing strange smells every time you open the fridge, it's time to freshen things up. Cut a lemon in half and place directly in the fridge or put in a container, flesh side up. Let the lemon sit in your refrigerator for about half an hour, or longer if needed. The odors should be absorbed by the lemon and you'll notice a nice, citrusy aroma.
Freshen up the garbage disposal.
Plop a used lemon or a couple pieces of lemon rind into the disposal. Turn it on while letting the faucet run a little bit for about 10-30 seconds and you'll notice lemon's pleasant scent erasing any foul odors almost instantly.
Freshen wooden cutting boards.
Every now and again, your wooden cutting boards need some extra care. If you're noticing stains or strange smells, then it's time to give them a lemon cleanse. Sprinkle a bit of coarse salt over the board and take half a lemon, and use it (flesh side down) to scrub away at the surface. Leave the lemony, salted board to sit for about 5 minutes before rinsing with water or wiping it down with a wet sponge.
Help eliminate tough stains and grease from pots and pans.
Removing tough stains and grease from cookware can be labor intensive and time-consuming, but using lemon juice will aid the cleaning process, thanks to lemon's acidic properties. Mix equal parts lemon juice with dishwashing soap (a teaspoon or less, each) and go straight to scrubbing and cleaning. Alternatively, you can let pots soak with this mixture for about 15-30 minutes and you'll notice it's much easier to cut through the grease and eliminate the tough stains.
Remove stains from plastic containers.
What you stored in your Tupperware or plastic containers last week may still show signs in the form of stains. Oftentimes, they don't easily disappear even after a good scrub or run through the dishwasher; don't fret. Squeeze or pour some lemon juice into the container and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Or better yet, take a piece of lemon and rub it, flesh side down, over the stains and then leave it to sit for a few minutes before wiping down. Now, that tomato sauce (or who knows what stain) should be gone.
Scrub a cheese grater.
Sometimes, no matter how much you clean the grater, there are still small pieces of food stuck in the crevices. I've definitely been there; it's frustration city. Next time, before you even reach for the sponge, take a slice or half-piece of lemon and "grate" it. Do so on the inside as well. This will help loosen any stuck-on pieces of food before you wash it.
Wipe down the counter.
If you like to wipe down your countertops daily, but want a more natural cleaner, lemon juice may be just the thing you're looking for. You can squeeze lemon juice directly onto the countertop and then quickly wipe clean. Because the citric acid is quite potent, you don't want the juice to sit for too long. Note: Although lemon juice is safe for the majority of surfaces, it's always a good idea to test out a small section before using it on the entire area, just to be certain.
This story originally appeared on allrecipes.com