When life hands you lemons, lemonade is always an option—though water with a twist of lemon is a lower-calorie, healthier beverage choice. But there are several health benefits of lemons that you may not be aware of, as well as an abundance of other little-known uses for lemons.
Uses for Lemons in Your Home
Let’s start in the kitchen. While household uses are not a health benefit of lemons per se, these tangy citrus fruits are are a safe, effective way to eliminate odors in the kitchen and throughout your home. You can put small pieces of lemon peels down the garbage disposal to get rid of stinky smells or boil a pot of water with lemon peels, reduce heat, and simmer on low for several hours to create a natural air freshener that will permeate your entire house.
Another kitchen use for lemons is to utilize the juice to preserve the freshness of produce and prevent browning. Just drizzle or spritz lemon juice over guacamole or apple slices and see it work for yourself. Want to clean and deodorize your microwave without chemicals? You’re in luck. Cut a couple of lemons in half, squeeze the juice into in a bowl of water, and place the lemons in the bowl, cut side up. Microwave for 3–5 minutes and then wipe down the inside of the microwave with a damp cloth. It should smell clean and fresh.
The final household use for lemons I want to share is as a natural cleaner and disinfectant. Fill a spray bottle with lemon juice and water and use to clean windows, mirrors, and countertops. You can even cut a lemon in half and rub it directly on cutting boards and kitchen sink fixtures to kill germs and foul odors and remove soap scum. As a natural alternative to chemical cleaners, this is a great non-toxic “green” use for lemons.
Health and Beauty Uses for Lemons
When it comes to beauty and health, there are many uses for lemons. Lemons contain citric acid, and when you combine lemon juice with a little baking soda, it creates an inexpensive at-home teeth whitener. Mix the two together in a small bowl until it bubbles and use a cotton swab to apply to teeth. Leave on for one minute (any longer will erode tooth enamel) and brush off.
As you may know, vitamin C and alpha hydroxyl acids (AHAs) are popular ingredients in many pricey cosmetic products. Because lemons are rich in both vitamin C and AHAs (citric acid), skincare is another common—and economical—use for lemons. First, it can be used to lighten dark spots on the skin. Just apply full-strength juice topically for 5–15 minutes every day. You can also make your own brightening and hydrating facial mask by combining honey with lemon juice, applying it to the face and neck, letting it set for 20 minutes, and then rinsing it off. And soaking your fingertips and toenails in lemon juice can quickly remove dark polish and any other nail discoloration.
Health Benefits of Lemons
There are a plethora of health benefits of lemons. Added to hot tea or water, lemon juice helps ease the pain and inflammation of a sore throat, and its antimicrobial compounds help knock out germs. Furthermore, lemon juice is a great immune booster because of the robust levels of vitamin C it contains.
An additional health benefit of lemons is that their high citric acid content inhibits kidney stone formation. Researchers from the University of California found that drinking 4 ounces of lemon juice, diluted in water, and consumed over the course of a day significantly reduces the risk of developing kidney stones.
Drinking a cup of warm water with lemon juice in the morning may also stimulate the digestive process, flush out toxins, and make the bowels function more smoothly.
The final health benefit of lemons I’d like to pass along is one that you may not be familiar with. The smell of lemons is a proven natural therapy for quelling nausea. It’s also a great remedy for morning sickness. In a 2014 study, the scent of lemons significantly reduced pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting. Simply squeeze the juice of one lemon into a glass, add a pinch of sugar if you’d like, and inhale deeply. The fresh and sweet citrus scent is likely the key to soothing an upset stomach.
I’ll close with one caveat: When you are consuming lemon juice, always dilute it with water, as it is very acidic and can damage tooth enamel. And, remember, if you’re using it as a teeth whitener, leave on for one minute only.