Six Thrifty Uses for a Lemon

Miss Thrifty22 August 28, 2009

thrifty-lemon One of the most popular posts on Miss Thrifty is the Make Do and Mend post, which features some of the choicest nuggest from the Ministry of Information’s wartime compendium of household tips. Those nice people at John Lewis have just published their updated take on this book. Sadly they haven’t sorted out their online PR and I can’t find a link to the book anywhere, but the Daily Mail ran a selection of its tips today.

Two of the ideas that caught my eye featured that most useful of fruits: the lemon. Lemons are what, 22 pence each? If you are like me, you will cut one into wedges for fish, or into slices for boozy drinks – but there will often be some left over. Leave it in the salad drawer or on the fridge shelf and it withers away. So here are some of my favourite ideas for leftover lemons:

  1. Rub chopping boards with a cut lemon to banish lingering onion or fish smells.
  2. To remove lingering smells from your microwave, put half a lemon in a bowl of water and heat on low power for a couple of minutes. (These first two tips are from the John Lewis book.)
  3. Do what Frugal Grandma does: squish leftover lemon wedges against the bases of your bathroom taps and remove them after an hour or so. The citric acid dissolves limescale.
  4. Don’t waste a whole lemon if you only need a drop. Stick a skewer into the lemon and squeeze out the juice you need. Wrap the lemon in foil and keep it in the fridge. (From the original Make Do And Mend.)
  5. Deodorant! My first job after university was at a very swish fashion magazine. The glamorous beauty editor did a fine line in luxury spas and the like; when it came to deodorant, however, she swore by the humble lemon. Every day she cut a slice and rubbed it under her arms. According to this beauty editor, it isn’t sticky and works just as well as factory chemical deodorant. (Another advantage is that unlike factory chemical deodorant, lemon doesn’t contain potentially harmful neurotoxins.) I must admit that I had forgotten all about this until I came to write this post; reckon I should give it a go! I shall report back…
  6. Cleaning copper cookware. Slather a lemon wedge with salt – and begin scrubbing! It works well and is cheaper than the abrasive, smelly gunk sold as commercial copper cleaner.

Any other tips to add? Let us know in the comments.

UPDATE: If you like shiny shiny saucepans, please also see Frugal Grandma’s thrifty lemon tips, which have a cookware theme.

Image credit: James Bowe.

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22 Responses to “Six Thrifty Uses for a Lemon

Definitely report back on the lemon deodorant! I have been looking for frugal and natural deodorants, and this look like it is it. There are a lot of recipes for recreating stick deodorant, but I want to keep it simple. Thanks!

August 28, 2009 at 11:14 pm

June Underwood says:

I keep all the unused bits of lemons (and oranges) in the freezer and when i have enough, i use them in recipes like marmalade, elderflower cordial etc, anywhere where lemon rind is needed. It’s surprising when you do this, how much you would otherwise throw away.
Keep the tips coming!

August 29, 2009 at 3:45 pm

Rina says:

GREAT tips – I love using lemons around the house!

September 8, 2009 at 6:13 am

What a hoot! These are great ideas.

Looks like lemons are a lot cheaper on your side of the pond. Twenty-two pence is about 32 cents. Around here, you’d pay at least 50 cents apiece, and I’ve seen them selling for upwards of 60 cents apiece: that’s 30 to to 36 p. apiece.

Luckily, they grow in the backyard.

September 8, 2009 at 4:54 pm

Stephanie says:

Deodorant? That is interesting.
They can be used to clean out a coffee pot. Put one lemon slice in the pot with ice and salt. Add about 1/4 pot of water and swish it all around. Does an excellent job.

September 9, 2009 at 11:57 am

threadbndr says:

in addition to cutting boards, rubbing lemon (or lemon juice) on your hands will get rid of the onion smell.

And lemon juice plus sunlight is a very mild bleaching agent – safe for vintage linens with stains and rust spots.

September 11, 2009 at 9:32 pm

Katie B says:

My mum gave me this tip; slices a whole lemon and freeze the slices to use as and when you want one for a gin and tonic.

April 17, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Verna says:

For mad scientists who keep brains in jars, here’s a tip: why not add a slice of lemon to each jar, for freshness?

May 21, 2011 at 8:53 am

loulou says:

when the dishwasher is full and ready to turn on cut a lemon in half place them in your dish washer securely switch on when the cycle has finished remove the lemons not only will your crockery etc come out sparkling clean your dish washer will smell fresh and degreased instead of using a expensive dishwasher cleaner i have been using this method for about 15 years and my dishwasher is still going strong

October 18, 2016 at 9:37 pm

Miss Thrifty says:

Oh, wow! I love this – thanks loulou. Currently saving for a dishwasher, so it might be a while before I get to put this to the test. If any readers can give this a go, please report back…

November 2, 2016 at 1:59 pm

Rachael says:

I always put lemon halves that have been squeezed in the dishwasher, works a treat!

January 6, 2017 at 11:50 am

How I use lemons and oranges? For example the skin and flesh after I’ve zested and juiced them? This takes a bit of effort but it was so good a friend asked for this as a birthday present…

So : blitz them in a food processor into small bits – not a puree but quite small. You now put it in a pan, add sugar and cook on low heat into a jam.

Ok so now you have citrus jam, but! Spread it over a baking tray lined with baking paper. Dehydrate it in a low oven for a few hours. If you can’t get your oven cool enough, leave the door ajar.

Once it is solid but still tacky to touch, cut into fingers and eat as a treat. Even better if you have some chocolate to melt and drizzle over the pieces. It’s even better than the posh candied peel and when I told my friends it was from scraps they didn’t care… They just wanted more!

As I said it takes time, also needs sugar and ideally some chocolate, but damn it’s good! I first made it when I’d made cordial for an event and had the remains of many oranges and lemons and didn’t want to just bin them.

That said, if you want a quick use… Just put them over the top of your fences to deter foxes and cats.

January 30, 2017 at 3:16 pm

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