5 Ways To Clean With Lemons | Herbal Academy | Do you love the fresh smell of lemons? You can have a clean, sparkling home with these 5 effective ways to clean with lemons!
27 Feb 2018

5 Ways to Clean with Lemons

I crave the feelings of satisfaction and coziness that comes after giving my home a thorough cleaning. When the carpets look lush, the floors are shiny, and everything’s in its place, I feel peaceful and calm!

And the best part? When I’ve cleaned my home the green way, with safe, natural cleaners, those feelings of satisfaction are multiplied. It just feels good!

Unfortunately, for most of us, one of the biggest challenges to living a greener lifestyle is cleaning the home. Unbeknownst to the consumer, many popular household cleaners are dangerously toxic (EWG, n.d.a.). According to Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit organization focused on environment and public health, there is no federal regulation of chemicals in household cleaners and the average household contains 62 known toxic chemicals (EWG, n.d.a.). With the thousands of cleaning supplies available to consumers, the thought of not having a safety standard is overwhelming. It’s therefore important to take the time to evaluate the ingredients in your cleaning products and make sure you’re comfortable with their safety ratings. EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning is a database that allows you to do just that. 

As you scroll through that database or scan the cleaning product aisle, you might notice that many cleaning products on the market include lemons on the labels. Well, there’s a reason for that! Citrus fruits like lemons are powerful cleaning tools. They break down grime, disinfect (Berthold-Bond, 1999), and smell amazingly fresh! Lemon can be a very effective cleaning agent that can add citrus power to natural cleaning products, and you may want to consider incorporating it into your own cleaning routine.

Why Clean with Lemons?

Whether you need to polish your faucets, clean your countertops, or brighten linens, lemons have you covered. They are an amazing, green cleaning agent that contain:

  • Citric Acid – a mild acid that fights water spots, hard water stains, and bacteria (Berthold-Bond, 1999)
  • Lemon Oil – a uplifting, sunny scent and antibacterial disinfectant (Siegel-Mailer, 2008)
  • D-Limonene – a powerful degreaser and solvent (Berthold-Bond, 1999)

You can reap the benefits of lemon as a cleaner without harsh, unsafe chemicals found in many store-bought cleaners. Why not pick up a handful of lemons and add a twist to your cleaning routine? You can start with the following five money-saving, eco-friendly ways to clean with lemons.   

How to Clean Your Home With Lemons

5 Ways To Clean With Lemons | Herbal Academy | Do you love the fresh smell of lemons? You can have a clean, sparkling home with these 5 effective ways to clean with lemons!

1. Detox Your Microwave

The microwave can get pretty gross, and while you could spend a chunk of time trying to clean it, you could also zap it clean with just few steps to dissolve food splatters without scrubbing. The combination of lemon and steam will degrease, loosen grime, and nix unpleasant odors.

  1. Pour ½ cup of water into a medium microwave-safe bowl. Slice one lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the bowl. Toss in the halves.
  2. Place the bowl inside the microwave and set the timer for three minutes to allow the water to boil.
  3. Let stand for five minutes before carefully removing the bowl. Wipe down the inside the microwave with a cloth, and voila! Sparkly clean.

2. Lemony Fresh Kitchen Sink

One would think the kitchen sink is relatively clean, considering the amount of time we spend cleaning other things in the sink. However, the moist environment and leftovers from cleaning all of those other things can create the conditions for bacterial growth—most notably in the drain or down the garbage disposal. Luckily, we can get the sink and its parts clean without harmful chemicals. Let’s start with the disposal!

Refresh the Garbage Disposal


2 cups ice
1 cup sea salt
1 lemon

  • Fill the drain with two cups of ice.
  • Pour one cup of sea salt over the ice.
  • Lift the faucet to release a stream of cold water and turn on the garbage disposal. Let each run until the ice is gone. Then turn off the faucet and disposal. The coarse salt and ice will work together to remove grime in the disposal and drain.
  • Peel a lemon and slice in half. Squeeze the lemon juice into a small bowl and set aside. Fill the drain with the peels and the halves.
  • Turn on the hot water and let the disposal run for 15 seconds or until clear. The lemon peels will help clean and deodorize the disposal and drain.

5 Ways To Clean With Lemons | Herbal Academy | Do you love the fresh smell of lemons? You can have a clean, sparkling home with these 5 effective ways to clean with lemons!

Next, create a natural cleaning scrub by combining the lemon juice you reserved with baking soda to create a thick, wet paste. Use it with a bristle cleaning brush to clean the sink surface and around faucets where dirt and grime can build up.

Sink Scrubbing Paste


1 cup baking soda
5 drops lemon essential oil (Citrus limon) or 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon liquid castile soap

  • Combine baking soda and lemon essential oil or juice in a small glass bowl.
  • Sprinkle mixture over the sink.
  • Drizzle a teaspoon of liquid castile soap over the baking soda mixture.
  • Wet a bristle cleaning brush and scrub the sink and faucet.
  • Rinse well after scrubbing.

3. Clean Cutting Boards with Lemon and Salt

The antibacterial properties of lemon juice make it a great cleaner for surfaces on which we prepare food. The lemon juice naturally cleans without leaving a chemical residue, and you never have to worry about contaminating food with harmful chemicals. Mineral oil, which is a common ingredient in wood cutting board cleaners, receives a “D” from the EWG for safety  (EWG, n.d.b.). The technique below is a safe way to naturally clean, condition, and deodorize cutting boards made from wood.

5 Ways To Clean With Lemons | Herbal Academy | Do you love the fresh smell of lemons? You can have a clean, sparkling home with these 5 effective ways to clean with lemons!

Cutting Board Cleanser


Half of a lemon
2 tablespoons coarse salt

  1. Sprinkle the cutting board with two tablespoons of coarse salt.
  2. Place the lemon half cut side down on the cutting board and scour the surface, while lightly squeezing to release the lemon juice as you go.
  3. Let the salt and lemon mixture sit for five minutes. Then scrape the into a bowl and discard.
  4. Last, rinse the cutting board with a clean, wet sponge and allow to dry before use.

4. Brighten Fabrics and Remove Stains

Lemon juice is an effective all-natural bleaching agent. It even works well on rust and sweat stains. The citric acid helps to bleach away stains and brighten fabric. (Avoid use on colorful fabrics as it may cause discoloration). Use the tips below to effectively remove stains and brighten fabrics with lemon.

  • Spray white areas on tennis shoes with lemon juice and place in the sun to whiten.
  • Soak your delicates in a mixture of a half cup lemon juice, 1 cup baking soda, and a gallon of hot water for a mild whitening treatment. Let stand for thirty minutes before washing as normal. *not recommended for silk
  • Apply a generous amount of lemon juice to ink stains on clothing as soon as possible, then wash in a normal cycle in cold water.
  • Treat underarm stains by mixing 3 parts lemon juice and 1 part water. Apply to stains and wash as normal.
  • Add 1 ½ cups hydrogen peroxide and ¼ cup lemon juice to whites during the soak cycle to brighten whites and keep them looking fresh.
  • Air-dry whites in the sun to boost lemon’s effectiveness.

5. Deodorize Your Refrigerator

With all the foods we stuff into our refrigerator (and sometimes forget), it can gain some unpleasant odors. Lemon can help deodorize the refrigerator in no time at all. Start by tossing out or composting old foods and set the rest aside. Then use the Citrus Surface Cleaner below to naturally clean surfaces. Towel-dry the surfaces before returning the contents to the refrigerator. Then, pour 1 cup of baking soda into a small bowl. Add 8 drops of lemon essential oil and place it on a shelf or in the door of your refrigerator uncovered. It gives a fresh breeze of lemon scent every time you open it!

Citrus Surface Cleaner


3 ounces distilled water
3 ounces distilled white vinegar
4 drops lemon essential oil (Citrus limon)
4 drops lime essential oil (Citrus aurantifolia)
1 lemon or lime peel, optional
1 – 8-ounce glass spray bottle

  • Pour three ounces of water and three ounces of vinegar into a glass spray bottle using a funnel.
  • Remove funnel and add 4 drops of lemon essential oil and 4 drops of lime essential oil. Note that essential oils will not fully disperse in this water-based mixture, therefore, use caution when spraying, avoiding exposure to skin and eyes.
  • Add optional citrus peels. Keep in mind you may need a larger bottle due to the displacement of the liquids.
  • Place the spray nozzle on the bottle. With the spray nozzle turned off, shake well to combine. Be aware citrus essential oils should be stored in glass containers.
  • To use, shake before each use. Spray on desired surface and wipe clean with a cloth.

Grab a Few Lemons and Get Cleaning!

That’s right! All it takes to give your cleaning a boost is a handful of lemons. Clean your home and say goodbye to harsh chemicals and hello to green cleaning. This common citrus fruit is a versatile solution to cleaning many areas of the home. So, grab a few lemons on your next trip to the market and get started with these 5 effective ways to clean with lemon. Find more green recipes for the home in the Beginners Guide to Natural Living Book.

5 Ways To Clean With Lemons | Herbal Academy | Do you love the fresh smell of lemons? You can have a clean, sparkling home with these 5 effective ways to clean with lemons!


Berthold-Bond, A. (1999). Better basics for the home: Simple solutions for less toxic living. New York City, NY: Three Rivers Press.

Environmental Working Group. (n.d.a.). Household Cleaner Ratings and Ingredients. Retrieved from https://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners/content/findings#.Wk6WKjdG1PY

Environmental Working Group. (n.d.b.) Guide to Healthy Cleaning: Mineral Oil. Retrieved from https://www.ewg.org/guides/substances/3634-MINERALOIL#.Wk64mzdG1PY

Siegel-Mailer, K. (2008). The naturally clean home. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.