This blog chronicles my life as I try to balance healthy lifestyle habits with my husband's penchant for pizza rolls and my daughter's desire to watch iCarly 8 hours a day. It contains a mostly humorous, kind, and somewhat spiritual look at everyday life and the people who live it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Green Tip Tuesday: The Mighty Lemon

Take advantage of the most acidic ingredient in your kitchen.

My cutting board smells like garlic, my laundry could use a good bleaching, my refrigerator has a weird smell, and my microwave has a greasy residue leftover from cooking bacon.  Good thing I have lemons!  The simple lemon will take care of all of those problems, leave a fresh smell, and if I don't use the whole thing I can cook with the leftovers - how often can you say that about your cleaning products?

I love lemons.  I love the way they look, the way they smell, the way they clean, and I've never met a lemon square I didn't like.  Or lemon poppyseed muffin.  Or lemonade.  But more than just being great for cooking, lemons are a super cheap, super effective way to get things clean.  Lemons are an acid and that acid kills bacteria which is what causes bad smells.  That means that lemon juice will also work quite effectively on a cut (squeeze it fresh and then take a deep breath because you're gonna feel it!), and it will sanitize any surface.  Usually I am waxing poetic about the virtues of vinegar for these same types of things and I still do love me my vinegar but let's face it, lemon juice smells better and sometimes it's nice to mix things up a bit.  To clean anything simply cut the lemon in half and rub the cut end directly on...whatever: the cutting board, the counter top, the pan, etc.  Rinse well to avoid a sticky residue.  To clean a microwave add 3 TBSP lemon juice to 1/2 c. water and microwave on high for 30 seconds.  Wipe out your now sanitized and fresh smelling microwave.  To use in a refrigerator in addition to, or in place of baking soda, saturate a cotton ball with lemon juice and leave in the refrigerator for a few hours.  Or just cut a lemon and leave the slices in the refrigerator.  Or near the litter box.  Or in the bathroom (Warning: your family may wonder at your sanity with this last one.  My family is used to weird stuff like this but you may need to warn yours..).

Lemon juice is also fantastic in the laundry as a natural bleach.  Squeeze a cup of lemon juice and pour it right in with your regular water and detergent.  It whitens clothes but won't harm them.  The bleaching action also works on hair, nails, and skin but because of the acidic nature of the lemon limit any time on your skin to no more than 15 minutes.  Your hair can handle a longer time but it's a good idea to dilute the lemon juice - about half and half - with water and use it as a rinse.  

I am all about using fresh lemons because the acid is nice and strong, the scent is fantastic, and the peel can be put right down your disposal to clean your drains.  Or thrown into your yard to feed the wildlife yet discourage ants from coming near your home.  Or used as a natural pumice on your heels.  And of course using a fresh lemon means not buying lemon juice in a plastic bottle and not buying plastic reduces your dependance on petroleum products!  (Oh yes, I'm still on that kick!) 

Having all those fresh lemons around inspires my cooking too.  I never would have made a lemon cake with lemon glaze had I not had a few extra lemons hanging around.  I know for a fact I wouldn't have attempted to learn how to make real lemonade, lemon sherbet, or lemon-mint water had I not been inspired by Martha Stewart and the sight of those gorgeous lemons.   There's just something about spring/summer and lemons that seem to go together.  Fall/winter feel like cinnamon to me (a future post?  You bet!), spring and summer belong to lemons.

Want to go green? Think yellow.


Deb said...

Two things- I sprinkle salt on my cutting board and cut a lemon in half and use the lemon itself to scrub the salt into the board. The salt is the abrasive to help remove stains and you know the rest about the lemons-
Next- throw those lemons in the garbage disposal to freshen the stinky disposal!

Anonymous said...

Ditto...ditto....ditto....I am a lemon fan myself....the microwave and garbage disposal are my favorite all time everyweek uses.

karen@fitnessjourney said...

Hey Beth, here is the link to the post you wanted:

Beth said...

Deb you are so right about the salt scrub, for more than just your heels, a good salt scrub can shine a pot, scour a cutting board, and work magic on grease stains. Hmmm...maybe it should be a Green Tip?

Beth said...

Karen thank you for the link. I kept looking in the post you did about throw pillows and completely overlooked the citrus style entertaining (which is still one of my favorite posts!).

Thanks again, Beth

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