20 Fresh Ways to Clean with Lemon

Updated: May 22, 2023

Goodbye, harsh chemical cleaning products! Surprisingly versatile cleaners, lemons leave the house sparkling and spotless (and smelling nice, to boot!)

When life gives you lemons, clean with them! That’s our mantra when it comes to keeping our homes fresh and shining. In addition to being delicious, lemons can clean a surprising number of places in the house, replacing several commercial cleaning products.

We love lemons for their sweet scent and antiseptic properties, so save those leftover rinds and juice after making a luscious lemon dessert. A cleaner home is just a peel away.

1. Clean the microwave

  • Remove crusty, caked-on gunk by microwaving a bowl of water and fresh lemon juice (or rinds) for 3 to 5 minutes or until boiling.
  • Wait another 5 minutes before opening the door; this allows the steam to do its work on the walls.
  • Finally, remove the lemon water and wipe down the inside walls of the microwave.

2. Refresh wooden cutting boards

A lemon on a wooden cutting boardKarl Tapales/Getty Images

Is your wooden cutting board stained or smelling like garlic? Here’s how to clean a cutting board:

  • Sprinkle some salt on it, then scrub with the cut side of half a lemon.
  • Rinse, then repeat if needed.

3. Deodorize your drain

Run a few lemon rinds through the garbage disposal to eliminate sink stink. Just file this under cleaning hacks you wish you knew sooner.

4. Polish furniture

Make your own natural furniture polish:

  • Combine 2 parts olive oil with 1 part lemon juice.
  • Apply with a cloth to wood tables and chairs.

Not all finishes are created equal, so before committing to the whole piece, try the DIY polish on a small, out-of-the-way section to confirm that it won’t stain.

5. Remove stubborn stains from containers

Close-Up Of Smiling Cleaning Glass Bowl With Lemon At HomeRobert Kneschke/Getty Images

  • To get rid of the residue last week’s spaghetti sauce left on your Tupperware, rub lemon juice on the stains.
  • Let sit for 15 minutes before rinsing.

6. Freshen your fridge

Icky odors every time you open the doors? (Decluttering your fridge will help keep it stink free.)

  • Cut a lemon in half and place it inside the refrigerator.
  • Leave it in there for about 30 minutes. That’ll do the trick!

7. Clean a cheese grater

Save sponges from getting shredded by wiping graters with a lemon before washing. It’ll loosen up any debris stuck in the small crevices.

8. Give the dishwasher a boost

  • Fill a dishwasher-safe container with a cup of lemon juice (or toss in a few lemon wedges).
  • Set on the top rack.
  • Run the load as normal for perfectly clean, shiny plates.

9. Brighten up faucets

Eco-friendly cleaning in the bathroom with lemonAndrei Zonenko/Getty Images

Hard water is water that has high mineral content, mostly calcium and magnesium.

  • Remove hard water buildup or mineral deposits from your faucets by spritzing lemon juice on the affected area.
  • Wait 10-15 minutes before wiping off.

10. Make your pots gleam

This’ll remove tarnished spots in a jiff!

  • Sprinkle some coarse salt on the cut side of a lemon.
  • Rub all over any copper, aluminum or brass kitchenware.
  • Rinse well and dry.

11. Use as an air freshener

For pleasant aromas all throughout the house:

  • Fill a pot with water, lemon rinds and your favorite combination of herbs, spices or extracts.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Let simmer on the stove for an hour.

We love to do this, and these other quick-cleaning hacks, before guests come over.

12. Wipe the floors clean

Hand clean wooden floor with ragStella/Getty Images

Instead of using harsh chemicals to clean floorboards:

  • Combine 1 part lemon juice, 1 part vinegar and 2 parts water.
  • Scrub!

This solution is ideal for people with kids and/or pets, since crawling on a dirty floor or a floor cleaned with chemicals isn’t healthy. (Check out more nearly forgotten house cleaning tips.)

13. Clean grill grates

  • Turn the grill on high.
  • Using a sturdy pair of heat-safe tongs, rub grates with the cut side of half a lemon. It will get hot, so work quickly.
  • For extra abrasiveness, dip the lemon in salt first.

14. Keep insects out

Prevent potential pest problems by squeezing lemon juice along windowsills or doors. It’ll deter them from even trying to break in.

15. Restore your grout

wet tileYarygin/Getty Images

The natural acidity in lemons is perfect for tackling any dirt or discoloration in grout.

  • Spray lemon juice on the target area.
  • Let sit for at least 10 minutes.
  • Get scrubbing!

16. Degrease pans

Adding just a teaspoon of lemon juice to your soapy dishwater helps tackle extra-greasy dishes (and it smells nice for the person who’s washing the dishes).

17. Remove rust

Make a paste with lemon juice and salt to brighten up items that’ve been touched by rust.

18. Wipe down counters

Cleaning kitchen with natural cleaning products.Dougal Waters/Getty Images

Use lemon juice on countertops! The citric acid will lift tough stains and act as a natural disinfectant. (Though this treatment is safe for most surfaces, we recommend testing it first on a small, hidden section before taking it to the entire countertop.)

19. Clean the oven

Buildup begone! One of our best oven-cleaning tricks:

    • Fill an oven-safe baking dish with water and lemon juice.
  • Bake for 30 minutes at 250°F.
  • After the oven has cooled, remove the dish and wipe any remaining grime from the oven’s interior.

20. Wash the windows

Skip the chemicals! Instead, combine water and lemon juice in a spray bottle to clean glass windows, mirrors and doors. Check out this trick to juice a lemon without cutting it.

Feeling inspired to give your cleaning routine an eco-friendly overhaul? You’ll be surprised at all the ways to clean with baking soda.