Jewelry cleaner? 10 surprising household uses for lemons

Did you knew you could use lemons for all these household tasks?
Did you knew you could use lemons for all these household tasks?ROGELIO SOLIS / Today

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By Ellen Sturm Niz

You turn to this citrus fruit to enhance your water but did you know it can also help perk up limp lettuce and kill weeds? We asked experts to weigh on their go-to uses for this household must-have. Read on for their tips.

Kill weeds. Forget chemical weed killers, which can be just as bad for you as they are for the planet. “I like to control weeds with my lemon and white vinegar recipe, which is four parts lemon juice to one part white vinegar,” says Billee Sharp, author of "Lemons and Lavender: The Eco Guide to Better Homekeeping."

Preserve and refresh produce. “Lemons are a perfect way to perk up produce,” Sharp says. “Adding limp lettuce to a bowl of cold water with lemon juice in the fridge for an hour will put bring back the crispness. Make sure to rinse and dry it a paper towel.” A little lemon juice also will help keep apples, potatoes, pears and cauliflower from browning and guacamole and pesto green.

Keep away cats. “If you have a precious rug or couch, spray it with your trusty lemon and lavender spray bottle to keep it pet-free,” Sharp suggests. “It will not only freshen the room with the nice smell but keep them away as well.” Bonus tip: orange and eucalyptus essential oil work well, too.

Easily clean cheese graters. “Cut the lemon in half and then run it over the grater,” advises cleaning coach Leslie Reichert, author of The Joy of Green Cleaning. “The acid in the lemon will help break down the fat in the cheese. If the food is really stuck on the grater you can dip the lemon in table salt and the salt will act as a scrubber; combined with the lemon it will remove most foods.”

Sanitize metal jewelry. The acid in lemon juice also works to remove tarnish. “I'd recommend using just a tablespoon of lemon juice concentrate to 1 1/2 cups water,” Reichert says. “You can also dip your silver into lemon soda and it will come out sparkling. But don’t use this combo on gold or pearls.”

Preserve meat and clean your cutting board. Lemon juice creates an acidic environment and bacteria need an alkaline environment to survive, so adding lemon to meat, produce and even water inhibits bacterial growth. “A handy antibacterial and natural way to clean your cutting board after cooking meat is to rub lemon juice on it and let sit overnight; rinse in the morning,” Sharp says. “The lemon juice will kill bacteria and leave your cutting board smelling fresh.”

Naturally restore furniture. “Mix mayonnaise, olive oil, and lemon juice together,” Reichert suggests. “When worked into wood furniture, this mixture will add oil to the wood and the lemon juice will work to cut through any polish build up on the furniture.”

Prevent sticky rice. Add a teaspoon of lemon juice to the pot while the water's boiling to keep grains from sticking together. “Lemon does prevent sticky rice, as do other citrus fruit lines, which help separate grains of rice and enhance the whiteness of the rice itself,” Sharp says.

Get rid of grease. “Copper pots are cleaned quickly with a half of a lemon dipped into salt. Rub over a tarnished copper bottom pot and you'll see magic,” Reichert says. “The same combo works great for removing grease off a cooktop and stainless steel pots and pans, too. If you have a real buildup of grease, use the lemon juice or half lemon with sea salt.”

Make potpourri. “I love lemons and lavender as potpourri,” Sharp says. “Take lemon rind or thin lemon and orange, lay them individually on a big sheet pan, and let them dry.” Add dried rose petals, lavender, rosemary, or mint for a wonderful, fresh scent.

Ellen Sturm Niz is an editor and writer living, parenting, and working in New York City. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Google+.