Lemons are one of nature’s most versatile ingredients. Their citrusy taste, acidic chemistry, and year-round availability make them the perfect fruit to keep on hand. If you’re not quite sure what to do with lemons, check out our tips for ten of the best uses. After all, you never know when you might find yourself with a basket of lemons to put to use…
1. Make lemonade.
Ah, the classic. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! The perfect lemonade can be achieved with just lemons, sugar, and water. However, you can improvise in any number of ways to spice up the classic recipe. Some popular options are spiking lemonade with liquor, adding grenadine for a strawberry twist, or mixing with Sprite or 7-Up to add some fizz. No matter how you like your lemonade, this should be number one on your list of what to do with lemons.
2. Clean pretty much anything.
Remember that versatility we mentioned earlier? That definitely comes into play here, as lemons can be used to clean almost anything. You can lift stains from objects like cutting boards with a little lemon juice and sunlight, or you can mix lemon juice with vinegar for a popular cleaner for most other surfaces, like kitchen sinks, bathroom tiles, and more. The bonus? Cleaners made with lemon juice are all-natural and chemical-free, making them safe to use anywhere in your home.
3. Lengthen the life of avocados and guacamole.
Avocados are still enjoying their time in the spotlight, and it looks like they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. If you’re an avocado toast connoisseur or like a good batch of guacamole every once in a while, you know how quickly avocados start to brown once you cut them open. Thankfully, lemons can come to the rescue in this scenario, too. Sprinkling your avocados or guacamole with lemon juice can give you precious extra hours of perfectly green avocados before they start to brown.
4. Freshen up your garbage disposal.
Garbage disposals are a godsend in the kitchen, but all their work to break down food waste comes at a cost: the smell. With all the mixed-up food debris that garbage disposals take in, it doesn’t take long for the odors to start to seep out into the rest of the kitchen. Lemons are a great trick here. Cut them into chunks and then drop them into your garbage disposal, and then let the garbage disposal run like you normally would. The citrusy scent will typically overpower the rest of the odors, getting your kitchen back to smelling fresh.
5. Make homemade limoncello.
Limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur, and it’s made from a relatively simple recipe of lemons, vodka, and simple syrup. The steeping process occurs over a few weeks if you want to do it right, but lemons are the key ingredient and the process is simple (albeit time-consuming). Those who make limoncello regularly maintain that the homemade version beats out store-bought options every time, so it’s worth the extra effort.
6. Keep away bugs.
Lemons have been shown to make a great insect repellant, especially for ants. Fresh-squeezed lemon juice can be sprayed on services alone or diluted with water to keep ants and other pests away from infested areas of your home. The best part? Lemon juice is safe for animals, so this form of insect repellant is perfect for keeping your furry friends away from harmful chemicals that many standard pesticides contain. Once you’re free from the threat of pests, you can just wipe up the leftover lemon juice and kiss your ant infestation goodbye!
7. Make an exfoliating scrub.
When you purchase exfoliating scrubs in stores, prices are often steep (and often for no good reason). One of the most common exfoliating scrubs you can make yourself just takes three ingredients—sugar, lemon juice, and olive oil. You’ll want to go heavy on the sugar and light on the lemon juice, but the mixture is a perfect dupe for the store-bought versions you know and love. Make enough for one single-use or prepare a bigger batch and put it in your own jar to save it for the future.
8. Whiten stained sneakers.
Lemon juice is a great whitening ingredient, and it can be used to save white sneakers that have seen better days. Spray lemon juice evenly on the sneakers and leave them in the sun. Once they reach your desired level of cleanliness, bring them back inside and rinse them off. You can also brush lemon juice onto specific spots with a toothbrush, and then follow the same sunshine/rinse regimen. When you’re done, they’ll be good as new!
9. Add some excitement to your water.
Most people don’t drink enough water throughout the day, and a common complaint is that water is too bland to be enjoyable. Lemon juice can alleviate some of this problem. There’s a reason that many restaurants serve water with lemon wedges by default, and it’s because the lemon adds some flair and sophistication to your standard cup of water. If you’re having trouble getting your eight glasses a day, see how your hydration improves after throwing in some lemon wedges.
10. Keep apple slices fresh.
Similar to the concept explained above with the avocados, lemon juice can be squeezed on apple slices to keep them from browning. After you slice your apple, sprinkle some lemon juice over the top if you have more than you can eat in one sitting, or if you’re packing up your slices for later. If you throw your slices in a to-go bag, you can put some lemon juice in with them and shake the bag to coat the slices. No more browned apples for you!
There you have it! Lemons can be used for almost anything, so hopefully now you can see them as beacons of opportunity rather than useless pantry staples. We can’t wait to see what you can accomplish with these tricks!