Lemons in our house

Lemon trees at the windows

I love things very, very clean.  Our home has not been easy to clean, partly since it has been in “process” since we moved in and partly because it is SOOO large.  Now that the baby has arrived, I have been even more concerned about having a clean home and especially pristine floors, which is rather difficult considering they are almost raw wood.  So, I have looked for natural ways to keep things clean.  My favorite floor cleaner is actually vinegar, though I could use a better smelling solution.  It picks up dust quite well and leaves things fresh.  Lemons are also nice to have on hand for all sorts of cleaning, especially pans and tea stains.

Since we finished the dining room, Bill bought two lemon trees for me.  We harvested 6 lemons from them this year and they are flowering for the next season.  I’m hopeful they will be healthy, but central NY is hard on citrus as you can imagine.  They get a lot of light in the dining room, but it isn’t enough light and humidity to keep them flourishing.

One of my favorite household books is “Betty Anne’s Helpful Household Hints”; I believe the original book was published in 1982.  It is an entertaining read to see how traditional tips have changed over the decades, but I have certainly found a lot of great insight from Betty, even better stuff than more recent tip books.

Thought I would share with you much of her advice on using lemon juice around the house.  I have found that concentrate juice does not work like fresh lemon juice, so I keep a lemon on hand when I can.

  • Lemon juice mixed with strawberries and baking soda for a teeth whitener
  • Peels work well for buffing nails
  • Dabbed on cold sores (though painful) will help them go away
  • Juice mixed with mineral water is good for sunburn pain
  • Juice will remove stains on marble, rinse with mineral water
  • Juice and warm water clean glass tables tops, dry with linen towels
  • Juice and mineral water rinse will bring back shine to aluminum pots
  • Juice and sea salt soak will clean brass and copper  (my favorite trick of all; I use it frequently)
  • Juice and baking soda to clean blackened fireplace, scrub with damp sponge and/or stiff bristled brush
  • Tablespoon of juice to water for boiling rice keeps it from sticking together
  • Juice sprinkled or tossed with cutup fresh fruit to keep it from browning
  • Steam cauliflower with a lemon wedge to keep it whiter and less bitter
  • Rinds thrown in the garbage disposal will help freshen the sink and the smell
  • Juice and sea salt to remove rust stains on clothing, rinse well with cold water immediately, lemons are a natural bleach
  • Adding half cup of juice to a full load of white laundry will work as a bleach

Store lemons in water in the fridge to help them last longer.

I have not tried all of these tips from Betty, but I can honestly recommend the one for polishing copper and brass.  I use it quite often for my pans with a copper bottom and for much of the copper hardware found around my home.  It is less abrasive than commercial cleaners and totally biodegradable.   Know of other lemon tricks?

  • An additional lemon trick passed along by my friend, Michelle:  Cut a lemon in half and let kids dip the cut end into sugar sprinkled on a small plate. The combination of sucking on the granular sugar and acidic lemon juice helps to sooth! (Ancient Croatian secret.)

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