Citrus juice is one of the freshest-smelling, most versatile ingredients you can have around the house. Sure, you can make homemade orange juice and lemonade sparklers, or use the citrus in salad dressings, but there are plenty of other uses for lemon juice—and all kinds of citrus—that go beyond cooking. Since lemon juice is a natural cleanser, for instance, it can help with odors, stains, and even your laundry, and can contribute to a more sustainable household.
Here are five of the best uses of citrus juice, from freshening up your house to preserving food.
Get Rid of Stains
Lemon juice makes a great cleanser and stain-remover. Cleaning with lemon juice is effective for bleaching, whitening and disinfecting—plus, it’s more eco-friendly (and inexpensive) than commercial products. You can use lemon juice to remove grease and grime from your bathroom and kitchen surfaces, and to tackle specific tasks like freshening up a plastic cutting board. Just pour a little lemon juice on the affected area, then use a brush or cloth to work the stain out. For tougher stains, allow the lemon juice to sit for a while first. You can even use lemon to clean your microwave: Put some slices of lemon along with a few tablespoons of vinegar and a cup of water in a bowl, and microwave on high for two minutes. Then wait 15 minutes, remove the bowl, and use the steam to wipe down the insides with a cloth.
Eliminate Fridge and Carpet Odors
Citrus scents are popular for a reason: Not only do they smell fresh, but they help mask other unwanted aromas. You can use your leftover citrus to help deodorize odor-prone places in your home such as the carpet, the fridge, your garbage disposal or even your cat box. One way to do this is to place a sliced lemon in the affected area (such as the refrigerator or the disposal) to absorb odors—then replace the lemon at least once a week. For areas like the carpet, you can gently rub in some lemon juice to get rid of the smell; just make sure you test the juice on a small section first to make sure it doesn’t bleach the fabric.
Prevent Fruits and Vegetables From Browning
Using acidic juices such as lemon and orange can help keep your produce from oxidizing and turning brown. For apples and pears, brushing the surface of the cut fruit with lemon juice works well and won’t affect the flavor of the fruit. Other citrus juices like orange are effective too but can alter the taste. For vegetables like carrots, mix lemon juice with cold water, and let them soak in the mixture until you’re ready to use them.
Make Citrus Ice Cubes
Citrus ice cubes add a refreshing twist to drinks, even a glass of water. To make the cubes, squeeze the fruit into a citrus juicer with a built-in cup, evenly distribute the juice into an ice tray, then freeze. Besides dropping the cubes into your beverages, you can also defrost them anytime you want to add a little citrus juice to your cooking.
Brighten Your Whites
Since lemon is a natural bleaching agent, you can use it to freshen up the color in your white laundry loads. Add 1 cup of lemon juice (as a bleach alternative) to your washing machine water along with your detergent, then wash as usual. Just be sure to only use the lemon juice on white fabrics, as it can bleach certain colors.
No matter how you’re using your citrus, don’t let any of it go to waste. Use a Cut & Keep Silicone Lemon Saver to keep citrus halves for later. When you’re ready to juice the fruit, just whip out your Citrus Squeezer.