20 unexpected uses for a lemon, from beauty hacks to cleaning tricks

lemons

Lemons are quite possibly the most versatile thing to have in your kitchen.

Officially a berry, a hesperidium in-fact, lemons can transform your cooking, health, mood, home and more.

Inexpensive and available year-round, they really can better your life.

As the author of the largest book dedicated to them; Lemon Compendium, so a verified fan, here are 20 of my favourite ways to use a lemon, beyond just adding a squeeze of juice to your salad

Ways to clean your home with lemon

Deep clean your microwave

Pop lemon rinds into a bowl half filled with water, cook on high for five minutes, the water will boil and the lemony steam will do its job. Remove and wipe the inside with a cloth.

Sanitise chopping boards

Rub half a lemon over your washed kitchen boards to naturally sterilise them, then rinse with water.

It’s a good way to utilise a lemon half once you’ve squeezed the juice.

Whiten your clothes

When washing your whites, add lemon juice to enhance the whitening action of your laundry detergent of choice.

Get rid of moths

Dried lemon peels are a natural moth deterrent. Just toss some into your wardrobe or tie in a muslin cloth and hang in the closet.

Get rid of limescale in the loo

Prevent a blocked toilet and unsightly brown stains due to limescale by pouring lemon juice in the cistern tank and toilet bowl. Leave for a few hours then flush.

Beauty uses for a lemon

Add natural highlights

For sun-kissed hair, on a sunny day, drip lemon juice onto wet hair, comb through with fingertips, then sit in the sun leaving hair to dry naturally. Though most notable on lighter hair colours, all hair will be shinier.

Exfoliate skin

Make a non-abrasive skin exfoliator for your face by mixing around three tablestpoons of vitamin C rich fresh lemon juice with one tablespoon of sugar.

Massage with your fingertips in a circular motion – the sugar will dissolve – rinse and pat your face dry. Follow with your favoured skincare routine.

Brighten your nails

While painted nails look lovely, if you don’t take breaks in-between, your nails can start to look yellow.

Rub a slice of lemon over your nails, leave for up to ten minutes, rinse, then apply a good moisturiser.

Ditch dandruff

Mix a few tablespoons of fresh lemon juice with warm olive oil and rub into the scalp. Leave for 15 minutes, then shampoo and rinse.

The lemon juice will lift away the dandruff while the olive oil moisturisers the scalp. Try this once a week.

Remove hair with sugaring

Sugaring is a safe and organic hair removal system and you just need three ingredients.

Combine 200g sugar, 60ml lemon juice and 60ml of water in a pan, stir together and heat until around 230 degrees; use a thermometer if you have one. You want it to be the consistency needed to spread and remove hair.

Take off the heat, pour into a heatproof container and leave until it is room temperature. Take a wooden spatula (some people just roll little balls in their fingertips and smooth onto the skin) and smooth onto the area you wish to remove hair. Lay over cotton strips and press down firmly, pull the strip off in the direction of hair growth and parallel to your skin.

Some people prefer to pull it off with their fingers, but I find a cotton strips less messy. Water will take off any residue.

Boost your health with lemon

Energise yourself

The next time you’re feeling down in the dumps or tired and in need a lift, scratch the rind of an unwaxed lemon and sniff.

The scent of lemon essential oil found in the rind can make you feel instantly cheerful and uplifted.

You could also add a few lemon essential oil drops to a diffuser or container of water on top of a radiator.

Banish bad breath

The acidity in lemon juice helps destroy the bacteria in your mouth that causes bad breath. Drinking lemon water can help, as will gargling lemon juice or sucking on a lemon slice.

Remember to rinse your mouth with water after to protect your teeth from the acidity.

Curb cystitis symptoms

Lemon juice, although acidic, once ingested is alkalising and will help reduce the acidity in urine.

Barley is also alkaline; boil pearl barley in water for around twenty minutes, drain reserving the cloudy water, add fresh lemon juice and sip.

Keep hydrated

Exercising can affect the electrolyte balance, causing muscle pain and fatigue. Instead of electrolyte packed sugary drinks, make your own by adding lemon juice, honey and salt to taste in water. Renowned explorer Sir Edmund Hilary sipped on sweetened lemon water making his way to the summit of Mount Everest.

Treat insect bites

When bitten by an insect, dab fresh lemon juice on the bite to help sterilise the area, aid healing and ease the painful sting

Cooking tips with lemon

Make a persillade

Pep up pasta, stews, sauces, risottos and more with a persillade.

Make this indispensable seasoning by combining two tablespoons of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped, two tablespoons of fresh tarragon, finely chopped, two cloves garlic, crushed, one lemon’s zest, and one shallot, finely chopped, and a pinch sea salt.

Keep brown sugar soft

Place the peel of half a lemon with brown sugar in an airtight container. The sugar will absorb the moisture in the lemon peel and stay soft.

Keep hardboiled eggs intact

Cover eggshells in lemon juice before boiling for hardboiled eggs – peeling the shell off will be easier too.

Make soft cheese

To make a soft cheese bring one litre of full fat milk to the boil, add a good pinch of salt and 100ml of lemon juice. Take it off the heat, stirring continuously until it curdles, strain through a cheese cloth over a bowl, and tighten the cheesecloth until left with a ball of soft cheese.

Swap salt for lemon

If you’re on a low sodium diet then the fresh zing of lemon zest or a squeeze of lemon juice is the perfect alternative to salt.

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