When life gives you lemons, grab the salt and scrub-a-dub-dub. The common household fruit is the ultimate, all-natural cleaning agent. Lemons not only deodorize the house with a zesty fragrance, but they also dissolve dirt and act as an antibacterial solution, thanks to a high level of citric acid.
Whether you're looking to finally rid your microwave of that mysterious caked-on mess or find an environmentally-safe way to mop up the muddied snow the kids tracked in, we've got 10 house cleaning tips that'll get the job done with a little bit of elbow grease and a whole lot of lemons.
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Freshen Your Garbage Disposal
Got a funky smell wafting out of your kitchen sink? Take matters into your own hands. Quarter a lemon, drop it in the disposal, and turn on the hot water. Flip the switch, and it'll be good to go.
Polish Metal Pots
Tarnished metal and burnt bottoms have a way of making your first-rate cooking pots look like bargain-basement finds. Shine 'em up until they're spic-and-span by dipping a half of a lemon in salt and rubbing gently in circular motions. The same rules apply for chrome faucets and grills. Just steer clear of anything brass-plated, which won't hold up under pressure.
Cut grease on hard-to-clean dishes by adding 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to your detergent. This one's great for little dish washers who want to help out Mom and Dad, but haven't developed their scrubbing muscles.
Clean Coffee and Tea Pots
Rid your coffee and tea pots of daily mineral buildup by slicing lemons and boiling them in the pot. Let the sweet smelling potion steep for one to two hours, then stick the pot in the dishwasher. Bonus: Banishing those unwanted impurities makes for a better tasting cup of Joe.
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Revive your munchkin's dingy whites by adding a half-cup of lemon juice to the rinse cycle of a regular-sized load of white or "bleachable-safe" clothes. While you're at it, tackle tough spots on polyester and cotton with a stain-fighting mixture that's equal parts lemon juice and cream of tartar. Rub in the solution (after testing on a small patch), and let it soak in for half an hour. Wash as normal.
Create a Natural Oven Spray
Avoid toxic chemicals found in traditional oven cleaners, like Easy-Off. They may work like a charm, but they're hazardous to your health. We suggest replacing the synthetics with a paste of lemon juice, water, and baking soda until it reaches the consistency of gel. Coat the inside of the oven, let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes, and rinse well. The best part? In the words of TLC, "no scrub, no scrub, no scrub."
Make a DIY Toilet Bowl Spray
Cleaning doesn't have to be dirty work. When it comes to your toilet bowl, combine 1/2 cup of lemon juice and a sprinkle of baking soda, and let the magic happen. After 15 minutes, give it a quick turn with a toilet brush, and flush. Fresh as a daisy!
Mix a pint of mineral oil with one tablespoon of lemon juice, pour in a spray bottle, and go to town. But, don't forget to wipe down your surfaces really well. Nothing interrupts an intimate dinner party quite like greasy Gucci.
Say goodbye to streaking, sister — that was in another life. Nix window grime and tiny handprints with 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/2 cup white vinegar, and 1 quart warm water.
Sanitize Your Microwave
Despite your kids' best attempts, the inside of your microwave is not a Jackson Pollock masterpiece. Clean those pesky splatterings by slicing a lemon and dropping the pieces into a hot water vessel — a breakfast bowl or teacup will do. Turn the microwave on high for one minute and immediately give it a couple swipes with a wet sponge. If only everything in life could be this easy.
Sure, everything changes once you become a mom, but that doesn’t have to mean sacrificing style. Elizabeth Street, an international collective of mothers who understand what it’s like to do everything one-handed, is here to help you discover everything from the newest green-friendly beauty products to the chicest home decor ideas — whether you’re raising a little one or not.