Lemon juice has long been used as a kitchen and general purpose cleaner. Along with other members of the citrus family including Oranges and Limes, Lemon acts as a deodorizer in addition to its cleaning ability. Lemons are amongst the most versatile of fruits.
In days of old Lemons were often used for cleaning. Lemon oil and lemon rind were also commonly used as cleaners. All of the best chemical free cleaning methods used today were tried and tested by our grandmothers and grandfathers of yesterday. Commercial cleaning contractors are also using many natural alternatives including Lemon juice as safer chemical free options to traditional cleaners in domestic homes and units.
Before you begin cutting into the lemons in your fruit bowl there are a couple of considerations. Juice from lemons may tarnish some metals if you do not rinse the item thoroughly after cleaning, Fabric should be spot tested before cleaning and be aware that the sugars in lemon juice will leave a sticky coating on the surface being cleaned unless it is thoroughly rinsed to remove the lemon juice.
The juice from lemons can be used as a tannin releaser making it an ideal cleaner for coffee and tea stains as well as other tannin type stains. The application of lemon juice on these types of stains would depend on the surface that is being cleaned. On hard surfaces such as bench tops a lemon can simply be cut in half and rubbed over the stain. The acids in the lemon will work to release the tannin therefore removing the stain.
- On clothing, it can be added directly to the stain (after spot testing the fabric) before adding to the wash.
- The juice can also be added to other natural household cleaning options to make cleaning solutions for a variety of situations.
- Mixing lemon juice with vinegar to form a poultice which can be used to clean hard surfaces such as bench tops.
- An abrasive cleaner can be made by sifting wood ash and mixing with lemon juice to form an abrasive paste which can be used to clean metal utensils, scratch proof ceramics and similar items.
- Lemon juice makes an ideal cleaner and deodorizer for refrigerators and freezers.
- Poultices and pastes should be made as required and used within 24 hours.
Fresh lemons are the best and have the highest acid content however, lemon juice which can be purchased from the local supermarket is an ideal back-up. Lemon essence is a (usually) synthetic flavoring used to flavor cooking. It is not usually suited to cleaning processes but may be suitable for a deodorizer in microwave ovens, refrigerators, freezers etc. Fresh and organic is always my preferred choice.
Eric J. Smith is a qualified Horticulturalist and Permaculturalist.