Time and time again in natural domestic cleaning recipes, you come across recommendations to use lemons as a natural cleaner.
Lemons certainly have a lot to recommend themselves in this department:
* They smell exquisite and the essential oil released from the skin when you use it is invigorating. This ensures that household chores are pleasant and enjoyable. Who doesn’t love the smell of real lemons? The fake lemon scent added to nearly every detergent just doesn’t come close.
* Lemon juice has a mild bleaching action, especially when it gets sunshine on it. This means that it can get rid of mildew spots on whites and can remove stains on most cloth. And there’s always the old schoolgirl trick (dating, obviously, to the days when schoolgirls didn’t have much discretionary spending money to take to the hairdressers) of putting highlights in your hair with lemon juice. Or you can take a tip from Anne of Green Gables and use it as a skin bleach to fade freckles and age spots (and it will act as a mild exfoliant, too). You will need to rinse it off afterwards.
* Lemons cut in half left in the fridge absorb unpleasant smells. Presumably, one should not eat the lemon after cutting it in half and leaving it uncovered in the fridge or it will taste peculiar (if you want to leave half a lemon in the fridge for later use, cover it to stop this happening).
* Lemon juice mixed with salt makes a first-class cleaner for brass and copper, as the acid attacks the grimy outer layer so it can be scoured off with the salt.
* As lemon juice is acidic, you can use it to get rid of limescale.
The only downside of cleaning anything with lemons is that it seems like a real waste of a delicious lemon. Vinegar can substitute for the lemon juice in many cases, and can do it much cheaper. True, vinegar won’t absorb smells in the fridge (but baking soda will) and it doesn’t have the scenting and bleaching properties, but for cleaning brass and removing limescale, vinegar will do the trick.
Call me stingy, but if I get hold of a lemon, I want to use it for cooking and eating. All that tangy (and healthy!) juice… that piquant zest… You can add lemon juice to soups to give it a bit of tang (do it last to preserve the full flavour); to muffins, alongside the zest; as slices in water for a refreshing drink, as a marinade for any meat, but especially chicken and fish, in icing for birthday cakes, as a source of pectin and acid in any jam or as marmalade in its own right, as a seasoning in mashed potato… the list goes on. And as a testament to lemon’s antioxidant powers, you can stir lemon juice over a fruit salad containing bananas and apples to prevent these fruit pieces going brown – the lemon juice will deal with the oxygen that causes the discolouration.
If you are lucky enough to be able to get them, you can use limes anywhere you would use lemons. This applies to culinary uses as well as house cleaning uses.
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