17 Useful Things To Do With Lemons

collage of images showing various ways to use lemons
Ahhh…the power of lemons!

Here’s 17 Suggestions For What To Do With Lemons

It seems like I’ve written a lot about what to do with lemons over the years, but I just can’t help myself! Not only do I love the flavor of lemon in food and desserts, but I’ve found that lemons are incredibly useful too!

Lemons are an ingredient in many of my homemade cleaning solutions, because they can naturally sanitize, deodorize, whiten, and brighten all sorts of objects and surfaces around your house. In fact, I could probably come up with 100 things to do with lemons!

But if I did, we’d be here all day and night. So I’ve chosen to exercise some self-control and limit myself to sharing 17 of the very best uses for lemons. By the end of this list, you’ll see just how much this little citrus fruit can do!

Check out how to keep lemons fresher, longer in my video at the end of the post!

17 Useful Things You Can Do With Lemons

collage of two images showing lemon powder in a glass jar
This stuff comes in so handy for LOTS of things.

1. Make Dried Lemon Peels

One of the best things you can do if you have lots of lemons on hand is to make dried lemon peels. They’re great to use in recipes, homemade cleaners, and even beauty products. The peel of the lemon contains oils that are packed with lemon scent and flavor, and you can keep dried lemon peels in your fridge to use for up to a year!

collage of two images showing half of a lemon being dipped into a container of salt and then pulled out of the container with salt on one side of the lemon

2. Make Your Shower Door Shine

Glass shower doors are like magnets for hard water stains and stubborn soap scum. Use a lemon to help you scrub them clean! Dip half a lemon into a small dish of kosher salt, and get scrubbing. Then stand back and admire the shine!

glass mason jar with lemon peels and rosemary in it sitting on a table
My husband is NOT a fan of the smell of vinegar, so he was SO happy when I found this alternative to cleaning with it.

3. Make Cleaning Vinegar

I love to clean with vinegar. It’s actually one of my favorite natural cleaning agents, but I know a lot of people don’t like the smell. So I created a scented cleaning vinegar that you can use to clean almost anything! Just grab some lemons and a jug of vinegar, and follow the easy steps below.

Related: Vinegar Smell, Begone! Here’s How To Make Scented Cleaning Vinegar

yellow sponge sitting on a shelf in a fridge surrounded by various foods

4. Eliminate Fridge Odors

Use a lemon to absorb lingering odors in your refrigerator. Soak a sponge or cotton ball in some fresh lemon juice, and place it in your fridge for several hours to absorb those odors.

hand wiping a purple skirt with a white towel

5. Remove Permanent Marker Stains

With the help of lemons, it IS possible to remove permanent marker stains! You can use a mixture of lemon juice and cream of tartar to remove or treat permanent marker stains on fabric or upholstery.

Related: 19 Surprising Ways To Remove Permanent Marker And Save The Day

collage of two images - the image on the left shows a clear glass jar sitting on top of two white towels on top of a washing machine. The image on the right shows liquid being poured into a washing machine from a clear glass measuring cup.

6. Whiten Your Clothes

Lemon juice and hydrogen peroxide are the two main components in the recipe for my homemade bleach alternative. This all-natural mixture is great for whitening whites and removing stains. Get the full recipe below!

Related: How To Make A Simple, Natural Alternative To Bleach

hand squeezing half of a lemon into the corner of a windowsill
Bugs hate lemon juice!

7. Keep Bugs Out

Use lemon juice to repel pesky insects in your home! Squeeze some lemon juice into holes and cracks where you see ants coming in, and they’ll avoid the area in the future.

Related: This Hack Gets The Most Juice Out Of Limes & Lemons

collage of two images: the image on the left shows a hand wiping a stainless steel sink with a yellow sponge. The image on the left shows a hand spraying a blue spray bottle into a toilet.
Best scrub I’ve ever used!

8. Clean Your Kitchen

Use lemons to make two homemade cleaners at once – an enzyme cleaning spray and a scrub! I use this enzyme scrub all the time on my sink, and it works like a charm! My sink is left looking clean and sparkling, and it smells so fresh, too! Get all the details and plenty of photos at the link below.

Related: Homemade Citrus Enzyme Cleaner And Scrub

hand holding ice cubes with lemon peels over a stainless steel sink

9. Freshen Your Garbage Disposal

If your garbage disposal is smelling a little funky, there’s a super simple way to clean it! Just pour white vinegar into an ice cube mold, and drop small lemon slices into each section. Freeze the tray, then drop a few of the frozen vinegar cubes into your running garbage disposal. The ice will help keep the blades sharp and clean, and the lemon helps to deodorize the disposal. Repeat the process once a week or so to keep things smelling fresh.

Related: How To Naturally Clean And Sanitize Your Garbage Disposal

hands juicing a lemon into a white funnel that's in a pink plastic spray bottle

10. Wash Your Veggies

Use lemon juice to clean your fresh fruits and vegetables. Just add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to 8 ounces of water, and pour it into a spray bottle. Spray your fruits and veggies, let them sit for a few minutes, and then rinse them thoroughly with cold water.

collage of two images: image on the left shows a hand squeezing a plastic bottle of yellow liquid into a hand over a tub full of water. The image on the right shows a hand shaving a leg over a tub filled with water.
Lemons are the secret ingredient for the smoothest legs I’ve ever had!

11. Get Silky Smooth Legs

Lemon juice is a component in my homemade exfoliating scrub for super soft legs. It’s great to use right before you shave, and it will help combat dry and itchy skin during the winter. If you’ve never tried this before, I highly recommend it! You won’t believe how silky smooth your legs feel. :-)

Related: How To Make A Simple Exfoliating Scrub For The Smoothest Legs Ever

hand holding lemon peels over a black trashcan

12. Eliminate Garbage Can Odors

Save leftover lemon peels to eliminate odors from your garbage can! After you take a full bag out of the trash, place a handful of lemon peels at the bottom of the can, then put your new trash bag in. The lemon peels will help keep your garbage can smelling fresh and clean.

collage of two images: the image on the left shows half a lemon being juice. The image on the right shows a foot with half a lemon over the heel and covered in a black sock.
Cracked heels don’t stand a chance against lemons!

13. Heal Cracked Heels

If you struggle with dry, cracked heels, a lemon can provide relief! Just remove the flesh out of one half of a lemon, then place the empty “shell” on your heel. Put a sock on to hold the lemon in place, and leave it for 30 minutes. The acid in the lemon juice will help slough off dead skin cells, leaving softer, smoother skin behind.

lemon, rosemary, and a jar of vanilla extract sitting on a butcher block kitchen counter
I love the smell of lemons and vanilla! Makes my house smell like a Williams and Sonoma store!

14. Make Your House Smell Amazing

During the cold winter months, I love mixing up potpourri to make my house smell warm and inviting. It’s an easy way to fill your house with the scents of the season! Check out the link below to get the recipe for a lemon-rosemary potpourri… mmm!

Related: My Favorite Simmering Potpourri Recipes

hand squeezing half a lemon onto a bowl of guacamole
Guacamole without lemon is like a hug without a squeeze.

15. Keep Guacamole Fresh

Lemon juice can help you keep avocado fresh for a couple of days in the fridge. Squeeze half a lemon over guacamole or smashed avocado, then press a sheet of plastic wrap onto the surface. It’ll stay green and fresh, at least for a day or two!

a lemon that has been cut in half sitting on top of a cutting board
Best way to clean stained cutting boards I have ever tried.

16. Clean A Stained Cutting Board

I thought my stained plastic cutting boards were beyond saving, until I found this amazing trick! Using lemon and good old fashioned sunshine, you can lift those unsightly stains right out of your white cutting boards. Get the details below!

Related: How To Remove Stubborn Stains From Plastic Cutting Boards

clear glass jar filled with water and lemons sitting on a fridge shelf
You won’t believe how much longer your lemons will stay fresh when stored this way.

17. Cook With Lemons

Whether as the star of the recipe such as with lemon curd and lemon jam, ways to use lemons in recipes are almost unlimited. Need some ideas? Check out this list of delicious lemon recipes like lemon chicken, old-fashioned lemonade, slow-cooked lemon chicken, and more. Lemon juice also makes a great substitute for cream of tartar in a pinch.

BONUS: Tips For Storing Lemons

How long will lemons last on the counter? Whole lemons can usually be stored at room temperature for about a week, but if you have lots of lemons and can’t use them right away, here are a few tips that can help you keep them fresh longer (and some clues so you can tell if they have gone bad).

Store Lemons In A Jar Of Water In Your Fridge

To prolong the life of your fresh lemons, a reader suggested storing them in a jar of water in your fridge! We gave it a try, and it kept our lemons good for about a week longer than storing them on the counter. Smart!

YouTube video
This trick keeps my lemons fresh for at least a couple of weeks.

Freeze Lemons

Can you freeze whole lemons? Yes, you can! You can freeze lemon slices or wedges, zest, lemon juice, or whole lemons. For whole lemons, place them in freezer bags and remove as much air as possible before freezing. To thaw, microwave for a few seconds or put them in cold water for 10 to 15 minutes. Ice cube trays are great for freezing lemon juice.

When Should You Throw Away Lemons?

Not even the best storage methods will preserve fresh lemons forever! If you have any lemons that look shriveled, feel squishy, look powdery or dusty, or have any dark spots or mold on them, it’s time to throw them away. But try the tricks above first, so they don’t go bad before you can use them.

Related: This Is How You Should Be Storing Your Fresh Fruit

What’s your favorite way to enjoy the scent, taste, or usefulness of lemons?

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Bright Ideas

  • I love lemon in my tea, water, soft drink…..So I buy lemons, cut them into pieces and leave them laying on the cutting board, I put them into the freezer for about 30 mins and then put the partially frozen lemon pieces in a container. When I want to add one to my drink, I just get one out of the freezer, kinda like a mini ice cube. They last for months in the freezer.

  • I’ve done the potpourri idea before. I haven’t tried the lemon one yet. Does the lemon juice work for ants or will it work for other insects too? We were having a problem last week with something rotten attracting fruit flies.

  • I’ve learned that lemons and limes last for weeks and weeks if I put them in zip lock sandwich bags in the fruit drawer, not the plastic grocery bag. It really does work!

      • Vinegar and peroxide mixed together give peracetic acid which is dangerous. I find many unsafe suggestions on your website.

      • Actually Autumn, the key is to use vinegar, which is 95% water. Mixes low in vinegar will actually help stabilize the midrange peroxide concentrations, and 50/50 blends will dilute the peroxide so highly that it actually reduces most of the hazards. If people are concerned, they should wear gloves when using the mixture. I’m sorry you feel that my suggestions are unsafe. My team and I do extensive research before we post ideas and recipes.

  • Lemons can also be used as a natural deodorant. Just cut a lemon in half and then cut each half into 8 wedges and keep in the frig. Rub the pulp side under your arms for a natural way to stay fresh all day. Works like a charm! I have also had luck with lemon juice from a bottle (not from concentrate) put in a glass spray bottle for convenience.

  • Hi Jillee. I just wanted to tell you my chromebook is always getting the aw snap only on your news letter. I don’t know why but it just keeps going off when I am reading you email. I am sure there is nothing you can do about it. Just wanted you to know.

    • I have also been having problems reading your newsletter on my iPad. It keeps jumping around, so I have to keep scrolling back to where I was reading. It is very annoying and time consuming.

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