You already know that when life gives you lemons, you can make lemonade. But did you know that there are several more innovative ways to make use of the household hero? The tangy fruit not only adds value in the kitchen, but it can also help you out while you tend to your garden, do your laundry, clean your bathroom, and more. Lemons and lemon juice can even help your skin look summer-ready. Keep reading to see the creative ways you can put your lemons to work.
1. Tenderize tough cuts of meat.
You got a great deal on some chuck steak, but it needs a marinade to tenderize it, and you’re all out. Try this delicious alternative instead: Use ⅔ cup of lemon juice diluted with 6 tablespoons of water. The tangy lemon flavor soaks in while the fruit’s citric acid breaks down the protein bonds in the meat’s fibers. You’re guaranteed a tender and flavorful steak.
2. Whip up fluffy rice every time.
The simple secret to extra-fluffy rice every time? Once the cooking water reaches a boil, and before pouring in the rice, add a few drops of lemon juice. The acidic juice coats the grains and keeps them from sticking together, so the individual pieces have room to expand and puff up.
3. Reveal sparkling shower doors.
It seems no matter which glass cleaner you use, your shower doors just don’t look clear. Instead, fill a spray bottle with distilled white vinegar, add a few lemon peels; let infuse for a week. Then spritz the glass and wipe with a soft cloth. The peels’ oils mix with vinegar’s acids to cut through glass-dulling soap scum and mildew. Tip: This works on mirrors too!
4. Banish cats from the garden.
Argh! You’re happy that Fluffy is enjoying some time outside, but could do without her using your garden as a litter box. To thwart the behavior, sprinkle lemon rinds around the perimeter of your garden; replace with fresh peels twice a week. The citrus aroma is too intense for your kitty’s highly developed sense of smell, so she’ll leave your blooms in peace.
5. Get your feet sandal-ready.
An easy hack to nix an unsightly corn from your foot: Before bed, soak feet in warm water with a spoonful of baking soda. Place the inside of a lemon peel against the corn and secure with tape. Oils in the peel gently soften the hard skin, so you can buff the corn off come morning.
6. Help whiten your nails.
Notice a yellow tinge on your fingernails? Lemon can help! Cut a 1-inch piece of lemon peel, then scrub each nail with the rind for 30 seconds. Let sit for five minutes; rinse. The peel’s citric acid acts like a mild bleach to lift yellowing from nails for a brighter look.
7. Cure motion sickness.
The little ones in your life often get carsick, and you worry things may get unpleasant during your upcoming road trip. The solution: Pack a small bag of lemon wedges for the ride. When someone starts feeling queasy, have them suck on a wedge for 30 seconds. The juice helps the stomach absorb any acid and excess saliva that trigger nausea.
8. Safely wash fresh produce.
This time of year, you love bringing home fresh fruit and veggies from the farmers market. To ensure they’re clean and safe to eat, try a homemade wash. To do: In a large bowl, add the juice of a lemon (about 3 tablespoons) to 10 cups of water. Soak produce for five minutes, then rinse with fresh water. The citric acid in lemon juice may kill E. coli and other harmful bacteria on produce.
9. Banish stubborn tea stains.
Iced tea is a go-to drink in the summer — if only it didn’t leave the inside of your pitcher stained brown. The save: Dip half a lemon into a small bowl of salt. Squeeze the lemon juice into the pitcher and rub the cut side of the fruit on stains. Lemon juice’s natural bleach properties dissolve the tannins in tea that cause stains while the salt scrubs them away. Voilà!
10. Brighten white garments.
If your white tees are becoming a dull gray, this low-cost, chemical-free fix will help re-whiten them: Pour 1 cup of lemon juice into the washer after you’ve added the detergent. The acids in the fruit will break down stains and mildly bleach tops so they look brand-new again.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.
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