7 Secret Uses for Lemons: Home Cleaning Hacks and More

This story is part of Home Tips, CNET’s collection of practical advice for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.

There’s nothing like a tall, cold glass of lemonade in the heat of summer, but the citrus fruits are also extremely handy during spring cleaning. The citric acid in lemons can kill germs and remove mold, while the oil in a lemon peel cuts through grease and other stains.

Their combination of antibacterial properties and fresh scent makes lemons useful for multiple tasks around the home and garden.

Whether you want a more environmental alternative to your usual household cleaners — or just find yourself with too many lemons — give these household hacks a squeeze.

For more home tips, learn an effective trick to cleaning your washing machine and check out some surprising uses for peanut butter.

1. Clean windows

To get streaks off windows and other glass surfaces, squeeze about two tablespoons of lemon juice into an empty spray bottle. Add about a  tablespoon of white vinegar and a cup of hot (but not boiling) water.

Shake the mixture well and apply to whatever needs cleaning.

2. Freshen up the garbage disposal

If there’s a funky smell coming from your kitchen sink, try throwing a few lemon wedges or peels into the disposal and chase them with some cold water.

For particularly potent odors, add some baking soda to the mix.

3. Get stains out of sheets and pillowcases

Has a set-in stain ruined your linens? Treat them with a mixture of lemon juice and salt and let sit for 30 minutes.

Rinse with warm water and vinegar and then let it dry in the sun. Repeat as needed. (This technique is also good for sweat stains on shirts.) 

If your white sheets have gotten dingy, you can also use lemons to restore their brightness.

Fill a large pot with water and add some lemon slices, then bring it to a boil. After you turn off the heat, add in the sheets and let it soak for a good hour. 

Then launder your linens as you normally would.

4. Clean chrome faucets and fixtures

Even if they’re not dirty, chrome fixtures can lose their luster due to hard water stains, limescale and soap scum.

To bring back their brightness, cut a lemon in half and run it over the faucet, handles, drain and any other metal surfaces.

When you’re done, rinse and dry thoroughly.

5. Polish brass and copper

Coat half a lemon with coarse salt, then rub it over tarnished pots, cabinet pulls and other metal items. (Make sure they’re not varnished, though.)

When you’re done, wipe it down with a damp cloth, followed by a pat down with a soft, dry cloth.

You can also give wood furniture new life with a two-to-one solution of olive oil and lemon juice.

6. Kill weeds

If you’re not thrilled at the idea of keeping harsh chemicals in reach of children or pets, a little lemon juice can serve as a functional weed killer.

Be careful how much you use and where you apply it, as the acidity in the lemons can damage plants you want to save and even change the pH of the soil.

7. Remove stains from your plastic containers

If you’ve ever put spaghetti in a plastic container, you know how easily tomato sauce can leave an unappealing tinge. 

Rather than throw it out, fill the container to the top with lemon juice and let it sit for a few hours. Pour the juice out, then scrub the item thoroughly to get rid of the stain.

Read more: Stop Your Food From Exploding in the Microwave

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