The Natural Cleaning Power of Lemon

Household cleaners of one variety or another always seem to find their way onto the weekly grocery list. Unfortunately, they are expensive and sometime have unnecessary chemicals.

Lemon as a cleanser |

Not long ago, I came across a shop in Chicago that specialized in natural cleansing products for the home, and after perusing the shelves found an all-purpose citrus blend on special. I loved it, but I did not love the price tag.

Natural cleansers had definitely piqued my interest, but I could not justify stretching a budget already bursting at the seams.

Thus, I started looking at other alternatives and realized that creating my own household cleaners would not only serve to clean the home, but eliminate toxic residue and decrease expenses as well.

With a little research, I decided that a simple citric based solution would suit my needs very well. The natural acidity of lemons makes them perfect for everything from removing hard water deposits to refreshing the garbage disposal. Best of all, they smell heavenly and are environmentally friendly.

The Bathroom

Let’s face it, none of us loves to clean……. but I think we would all agree that bathrooms are our least favorite cleaning project of all. Soap scum, hard water spots, grout that never seems to come clean, and worst of all, are toilet bowls. For years, I had no fewer than five different products containing chemicals tucked under the bathroom sink.

Today, all that has changed, and my bathroom is not only cleaner and fresher, but I have far more room in the cabinet as well. To remove soap scum, simply rub a cut lemon over tile, faucets, and the shower head; rinse thoroughly when finished and voilà.

They will be sparkling like new.

This process will also help to remove rust stains. Remember to remove seeds from the halves before scrubbing.

When it comes to the tub, you can boost lemon’s cleaning power by sprinkling baking soda in the bathtub before cleaning (also an excellent paste for removing stubborn grout stains).

Lastly, the juice will freshen and clean even the dirtiest of toilet bowls. For this, I mix one-part concentrated juice and one-part white vinegar (the only cleaner you will find under my sink), saturate and swish with a toilet brush.

Note, the jury is out for using the juice on brass hardware, some say it leads to discoloration, and I am admittedly not adventurous enough to check it out for myself.

The Kitchen

In the kitchen, lemons can be used as a food source (try our recipe for vegan lemon bars!), food wash, and as a cleanser. Their natural acidity supplies antibacterial properties which make them the perfect purifier for sinks, fixtures, counters, refrigerators, dishwashers and oven spills.

Best of all, when you are finished cleaning, simply throw the peels in the garbage disposal to eliminate those lurking kitchen odors as well.

A paste made of lemon juice and salt can be used to clean stainless-steel sinks and fixtures. Be sure to rinse well after scrubbing. Paste will also help to remove rust stains. A combination of hot juice and baking soda helps to clean drains.

Bonus: The mixture is entirely safe for septic systems.

Greasy kitchen windows (or any windows for that matter) will gleam after an intensive cleaning with a concoction made from 2 T. lemon juice, one-half cup of white vinegar, and hot water (I use concentrate).

Dishwashers are great for saving time, but like everything else, they get dirty. To clean and freshen, rub a lemon over the interior and run the dishwasher through its hottest cycle. A paste made from lemon juice, baking soda and water will make stove-top clean up a breeze and can also be used to quickly wipe up oven spills.

Other large kitchen appliances will benefit from a once-over with natural lemon as well (and so will many of the small ones)!

Kill germs on wooden cutting boards by rubbing a lemon half over the entire surface, allow to sit overnight, and thoroughly rinse with warm water in the morning. Get complete instructions now.

Laminate counters will greatly benefit from a wash with lemon juice. Do not use (or any other acidic product) on marble or stone. For more tips on natural counter-cleaning, check out our guide on how to keep your countertops sparkling, no matter their make.

Placing half a lemon in the refrigerator is said control odors. Note, I have not tried this tip …… afraid of mold. Baking soda will remain the odor neutralizer in my refrigerator. Find more natural air freshening tips here.

As you can see, the power of lemons is immeasurable when it comes to cleaning the home. And your spring cleaning has never looked or smelled so wonderful!

The Laundry Room

In addition to bathroom and kitchen cleaning, the juice also acts as a bleaching agent. Simply adding one-half cup of juice (less for a smaller load) to the wash cycle, in addition to detergent, will whiten whites, remove odors, and dissolve stains, all without harming your fabrics.


Last but not least, now that your surroundings are fresh and clean, let’s talk about aroma. Leftover peels placed in hot, simmering water with one teaspoon of cloves and your favorite herb (I prefer rosemary) will permeate your home with a fresh, natural scent. From cleaning to deodorizing, lemons are “green” and mean…… the perfect cleaner.

30 thoughts on “The Natural Cleaning Power of Lemon”

  1. Tomorrow am heading out to the grocery and get me a handful of lemons, gladly i have vinegar, with the tips given, when implemented, i know i ‘ll be the envy of my friends when they stop over for a visit, a little coaxing here and there, i ‘ll have no choice but to reveal these amazing cleaning tips 🙂

  2. Some great ideas here, so I need salt and baking soda and tubs to make up my ‘lemon cleaner’. I just need a way to squeeze the juice now. I will let you know how I get on. I am wondering if cooking salt will be okay or to use sea salt which is a little more coarse?

    • Bella,

      Small tubs are perfect. As for the salt, I’d stick with finer salt to avoid scratching the surface depending upon what you’re cleaning!

  3. I love lemons and would love to love them for cleaning too, but where are you all getting your lemons? They are $1.09 each (!!) at my local grocery store and have been all summer. It would cost me so much money to have enough lemons to clean all that stuff. I do care about the environment, but money is too tight right now to be spending $30 on lemons that I don’t even get to eat!

    I do use a good deal of vinegar and baking soda for various cleaning tasks. I just can’t afford the lemons around here!

    • Lemons near where I live are $0.89 each. I haven’t found them cheaper than that in my area in ages. I am curious where I can get them for a really good price.

      I might have to wait to try this out until I can spend more money on lemons, I can’t afford going broke just so I can clean with lemons. If only.

      I clean with baking soda and vinegar as well. It works really well, but I would like to change it up.

    • Lisa,

      Lemons can be expensive. I usually purchase them when they’re on sale. It’s good to have a juicer. None-the-less, when lemons are at their peak in price, bottled lemon juice can serve the purpose. I would stick with pure juice though….. some companies mix in other ingredients.

  4. My mom has been using lemons in our laundry as a good bleaching alternative since it is safe for clothes colors, instead of buying bleaching products that has chemicals content which sometimes wounding to sensitive skin. I am not good in washing clothes, but this article would be helpful to me in kitchen area. A simple and natural way to stop thousands of bacteria lurking behind every corner especially in sink. I like also the idea that it removes food odors especially to food that sits too long in the kitchen.

    • Rissme,

      You have a very smart mother! Lemons do wonders in the wash! None-the-less, I can’t do without them when cleaning….. particularly countertops. Yuck! The bacteria is mind boggling!

  5. I love that something as simple and natural as a lemon is such a cleaning powerhouse! I will have to use them more often. I wish I had a lemon tree in my back yard 🙂 The idea of using natural cleaners is very appealing to me. Sometimes I do wonder about all of the ingredients in some common household cleaners.

    • Meteredlines,

      When I first started cleaning my home with natural cleansers it was a personal war against chemicals, as both of my children (now grown) have asthma. I don’t remember which brand I started with, but over time I realized I was throwing away my money on natural products I could make up myself. The price of lemons is well worth it, and a mere portion of what I used to spend on natural products at the store.

  6. We use lemons, baking soda, and vinegar for almost all of our cleaning needs including using those products as laundry detergent. Lemons here are really expensive as well, they are almost $1 a piece. I remember you use to be able to get them 4 for $1.

    • ally79,

      You’re right, I remember those days too! Unfortunately, prices on everything keep rising. For me, it became a personal decision to keep my home as clear of chemicals as possible due to health concerns (my children are both asthmatics).

  7. Another thing lemon is great for is soothing your throat! A few days ago I had a sore throat and find a bit of lemon water did the trick. There’s just something about Lemon and its magical properties!

  8. Lemons really do wonders in everything! I use them in my personal care and in my household chores. I am very happy with the results that they give – everything becomes clean and sparkly and the nice smell is a pleasant side benefit.

    • May102015- I couldn’t have said it better! Lemons are one of the most versatile fruits in existence. Thank you for your comments!

  9. I never would have thought about using lemon to clean the toilet bowl. I will have to give it a try next time. I hate cleaning bathrooms. Mostly because they are so gross but secondly because I hate the fumes and smells from harsh cleaners. Maybe the addition of lemon might change me outlook. 🙂 I have tried to use lemon juice on my flat top electric stove/oven but it just doesn’t cut through the burnt on bits. I’m still looking and am hopeful to find something that works.

  10. daniconk- I use lemons juice to clean my toilets all the time with great success. I also agree with you about the “burnt” on areas on the stove top….. they’re tuff! Grates are easily removed, and I allow them to soak for a long time….. but the stovetop itself is a tough adversary. If you find an alternative, please get back to me! Thank you for commenting….

  11. I found this on my own, haha! Lemon is actually more powerful than a lot of cleaning substances and I was shocked when I found that out.
    I hate to clean the bathroom but if I do it with lemon it smells really good

  12. This is really some fantastic information for those of us who are always running out of cleaners. I would really like to go more green when it comes to cleaning and this is going to help me.

    These are easy to begin implementing one at a time. They are also inexpensive. I remember using lemon juice on a stain on my husbands white shirt about a year ago, then lying it in the light at the window. It disappeared.

    I have been battling with a stain on my white shirt and have now been reminded to use lemon juice. It is always great when you find simple solutions to your problems.

  13. Oraclemay- Going green in terms of household cleaning has become an important goal in my own home. My daughter lives in North Dakota and only uses green products, which she purchases from a company on the internet. Personally, I don’t know how she affords it :-/ but I do applaud her efforts. Me? I’d rather spend the money I save on other things…. like traveling to see my grandson. Either way, chemicals in the home should be avoided, and there are so many inexpensive, simple and natural ways to disinfect and clean. All it takes is an adventurous spirit, a little experimentation, and the time to find what works best for us. Good luck with that shirt…. I just performed the same lemon juice task with the collars of my husband’s shirts. It was a success! 😀

  14. My grandmother used to clean only using vinegar or lemons. I always thought that good ol’ chemicals were the best, used A LOT of bleach. Well last week using a cheap oven cleaner I got a chemical burn on my arm! Since then I have been scouring the net looking for the methods granny used to use and I think I found it!
    I mean I love the smell of lemons. First time I can say I am excited to clean my house and try these tips out!
    Never in a million years would I have tried lemon in the wash, trying that out too!

  15. I love cleaning with lemon juice. When combined with baking soda, they also make everything look brand new – especially if it was looking dingy before. I’ve even used this mixture to scrub and brighten smoke stains on shell-white walls, and it works like a charm. Plus, your house will smell absolutely wonderful for ages!

  16. Lemons are truly a multipurpose fruit. My wife uses the juice as a hair rinse. They’re certainly excellent cleaning products due to their natural acidity. I plan to use them more often in cleaning, as I hate to think how damaging cleaning chemicals are to the environment.

    I have used the lemon in the fridge trick and have had no mold problems. Half a fruit for a couple of days once a week keeps things smelling fresh.

  17. This article is great. I’m a fan of using natural and toxic free cleaners. I love using method brand but that can get expensive. This article provided some great tips. I knew that putting lemon peels in the garbage disposal helps get ride of bad odor. I’m excited to try some of these tips.

  18. These are some amazing tips! I have heard that lemons can be used for everyday cleaning but had no idea about all the ways I could use it. Starting today, I will be cleaning my house with lemons….I can’t wait to see the results and smell the freshness it brings to my home.

    Thank for these great tips 🙂

  19. Oh… This is a good way to put to use the lemons we bought on a whim (because they were on discount, extreme discount) that are starting to dry up. It will be two birds in one stone -cleaning and not putting to waste the lemons.

    Thanks a lot for sharing this information! 🙂

  20. I have used lemon many times for cleaning, in combination with apple cider vinegar. I love the smell and don’t like using chemicals. I have never tried a mixture of salt and lemon for the kitchen, must give that a try. My only problem is the mold in between the bathroom tiles, I have tried lemon and vinegar, but it didn’t work.


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