Whenever we were ill as children, my mother would make us a hot drink of water into which she would squeeze a good amount of fresh lemon juice and sweeten with a touch of honey. As she watched us sip it, she would say, “Ooh, the power of lemons, you’ll be better in no time!” The reason? Lemons not only taste and smell good but have wonderful cleaning and disinfecting properties making them an excellent ingredient for cold remedies. Their usefulness as a cleaner though, doesn’t stop there, for lemons can also be used as natural stain removers all around the home.
Just think of any commercial washing powder packaging. Many are coloured bright yellow and will be emblazoned with things like: Lemon-Fresh’, Lemon-Scented’ and Actifizz Lemon’ – so the power of lemons is not a new thing -but rather than spend lots of money on toxic products, a little fresh natural lemon on its own can work wonders and is far better for you and the environment. A bottle of lemon juice can either be bought to keep in the fridge for cleaning purposes, or else fresh lemons are every bit as good.
How can Lemons be used for Stain Removal?
Lemons can be applied in different ways to help remove stains because they have a natural acidity which cuts through grease and grime and loosens dirt. The rind also contains a particular substance called d-limonene’ which acts as a solvent. In addition to this lemons have de-odorising properties which not only neutralise smells, but leave a lovely scent to boot. So what’s not to like?
A really great use for lemons is for removing microwave stains. Just tip a couple of teaspoons of lemon juice into a microwave-safe bowl of water, set it in the microwave and switch on for a couple of minutes. As steam is created from the water, the lemon juice works away and lifts the baked-on stains. You will then be able to wipe off with a damp cloth.
Bleaching Stains out with Lemons
Lemons also have a bleaching effect and for this reason can really help with the removal of traditional stubborn stains such as those created by red and black berries. After handling ripe fruit, rubbing half a cut lemon over the hands, will get rid of the stain to perfection.
Using Lemons to Bleach Cloth
Similarly, lemons can be used directly on fabric to lighten and brighten. When eating spaghetti or any other dish with potential stain-danger, keep a lemon handy for the inevitable spills. As soon as the clothing or table-cloth is stained, scrape off the excess food and immediately squirt some lemon juice onto the stain. From the underside of the cloth, squeeze more lemon into the fabric and if needs be, rub in using a sprinkling of salt for friction. Then rinse the fabric under a cold tap and if necessary, repeat the process until all trace of the stain has disappeared.
Other stains which can be tackled with lemon juice are fresh ink spots (just apply the lemon juice directly to the ink stain and then wash regularly in cold water), as well as beer and curry stains.
To get whites even whiter, hang the fabric out in bright sunlight to dry. The sun works together with the lemon to have a double bleaching action.
Lemon-aided Metal Polish
Another great use for lemons is in removing oxidisation stains to make copper and brass shine. If pots, pans and coal scuttles are looking a little dull, take some lemon juice, mix together with some coarse-grained salt until a paste is formed; put some on a rag, then rub the metal until gleaming. The salt causes a gentle abrasion and more effectively removes the stain.
Lemon Stain-Remover Mix
When mixed with bicarbonate of soda or vinegar – two other powerhouse products of culinary cleaning – lemon juice can be used to tackle many other awkward stains such as sweat stains, baby food, oil and mildew – but my favourite is the magic it works on the stains you get on plastic food containers – particularly when tomato-based foodstuffs have been stored in them. Again, simply squirt lemon juice onto the plastic or soak in a solution of diluted lemon juice and rinse. The plastic should not only be restored to its original colour, but should smell fresher too.
And after all that cleaning, why not relax with a glass of hot lemon and honey? Go on, give the power of lemons a chance!