Hand squeezing juice from half a lemon

Lemons and what to do with them: 38 handy tips

Health and beauty, cleaning, laundry, food and drink, air freshening – the answer's a lemon. A zesty solution for cutting down on all the products we buy.
  Published:  06 Nov 2017    |      3 minute read

These 38 great resource-saving lemon tips have been provided by our supporters. Friends of the Earth can't claim to have tried all of them ourselves, but they're based on commonly accepted wisdom.

You might want to exercise caution with tips involving ingesting lemon juice or applying it to the skin, especially if you have a persistent medical condition.

Health and beauty

Hand cupped round a bowl of hot lemon, honey and ginger
Try hot lemon, honey and ginger if you have a cold

1. Hair - For extra shine, dilute 1 teaspoon of lemon juice in a cup of water and use to rinse your hair after shampooing.

2. Hands - Remove smells and stains with a rub of lemon juice.

3. Nails - Whiten fingernails with a rub from a wedge of lemon.

4. Rough elbows - Hold your elbow in half a lemon for a few mins, then rinse.

5. Spots - Wet a paper towel with lemon juice and apply to help treat spots and blackheads.

6. Daily health boost - Drinking lemon water (a half or whole lemon squeezed into a glass of water) every day is an easy way to top up on vitamins and minerals.

7. Exfoliating body scrub - Mix chopped lemon peel, half a cup of sugar and enough olive oil to make a paste. Use to exfoliate rough areas of skin such as feet.

8. Minor wounds - Dab with lemon juice to disinfect scratches and scrapes. It might sting a bit!

9. Travel sickness - Suck on a slice of lemon to help you stop feeling nauseous.

10. Laxative - Mix 2 tablespoons of lemon juice with warm water, then drink.

11. Sore throats & coughs - Mix 2 teaspoons of lemon juice with half a teaspoon of honey and drink. Or mix juice and honey with hot tea.

12. Wasp stings - Apply lemon juice for relief.

13. Dandruff - Mix 2 tablespoons of lemon juice in 2 cups of water and use to rinse your hair after shampooing. 


Close-up of wet tap handle in bathroom
Lemon juice is great for sparkling taps

14. Stained plastic - Rub plastic containers or tupperware with lemon juice to help shift food stains.

15. Stained metal - Clean copper and brass with salt and lemon juice (three parts salt to one juice).

16. Mirrors - Mix 2 tablespoons of lemon juice with half a gallon of water for an effective mirror cleaner.

17. Grease - Straight lemon juice acts as a general degreaser.

18. Other stains - Remove stains from wooden chopping boards and cloths. Mix lemon juice with water, apply and rinse.

19. Polish - Make furniture polish from 1 part lemon juice and 2 parts cooking oil.

20. All-purpose cleaner - mix equal parts lemon juice and water in a spray bottle.

21. Taps - Cut a lemon into slices and leave on limescale stains around taps for 10 minutes (or as long as overnight). Scrub with an old toothbrush and rinse.

22. Toilet - Use lemon juice to help clean dirty toilets in a more eco-friendly way than with commercial toilet cleaners.

23. Windows - Make your own eco-friendly window cleaner.

24. Dishes - Instead of washing up liquid, try soaking a cloth / sponge in lemon juice. Give the dishes a scrub, then rinse in warm water.


Laundry hanging outdoors on line
Make your whites whiter with lemon juice

25. Mildew - Rub stained clothes with a lemon and leave in the sun for 12 hours or more.

26. Rust - Remove stains from clothes by applying lemon juice and dry under a hot sun.

27. Whiter whites - Mix lemon juice with water to whiten whites.

28. Fresh smell - A teaspoon of lemon juice added to your wash will make clothes smell fresher. 

Air freshening

Lemon hanging on tree against blue sky
We love the smell of lemons in the morning

29. Firelighters - After cooking, use residual oven heat to bake discarded orange or lemon peels until they darken. This creates natural, fragrant firelighters.

30. Pot pourri - Add dry peels to your pot pourri.

31. Fridge - Cut a lemon in half and let it absorb fridge smells.

32. Bins - Throw lemon peel in the bin from time to time to keep it smelling fresh.

33. Odour - Neutralise the smell of vinegar-based cleaning products with a small amount of lemon juice. 

Food and drink

Lemon with salad and chopping board
A squeeze of lemon livens up lots of foods

34. Cut waste #1 - Waste less of your lemon by cutting into quarters / slices, and freezing until you need them.

35. Cut waste #2 - 'Massage' your lemon, or roll it in your hands before you squeeze it, to get more juice out.

36. Make food last longer - Add a squeeze of lemon juice to cut fruit, to juice you've made from other fruit, and to salads to help them stay fresh longer.

37. Salad - For a simple, cheap and healthy dressing, blend lemon juice and olive oil.

38. Lemonade - Put juice from 3 lemons and water in a blender and liquidise. Add sugar to taste. Strain, add ice and serve.

Look out for more tips in our series on tackling overconsumption.

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