5 Clever Uses For That Pesky Leftover Lemon Half

Half a lemon in your fridge? Don’t let it go to waste [Photo: Rex]

Lemons are great. Good in drinks, good on fish, good squeezed out and added to several teaspoons of sugar before being drizzled over a sponge cake (anyone else salivating now?).

The trouble is that you don’t need much lemon to add flavour and so most of us at some point have ended up with half a lemon going slowly wrinkly until we chuck it out. You might think the answer is to drink more gin and tonic, although you’d be wrong (you really want lime with a g&t).

In fact, there are so many brilliant ways to use that leftover lemon up that we seriously struggled to narrow it down to five…

1. A Lemon A Day Keeps The Ants Away

Come summer, ants start their desperate attempts to invade our homes to scavenge any crumbs or other leftovers. There are few things more unpleasant than waking up after a party to find legions of ants carrying off your crumbs like they are actually extras in a cartoon picnic.

At this point you could put down ant powder and other chemicals, but that can be a bit of a worry if you have pets or children running around. The good news is that ants seem to really hate lemon juice and it also disrupts their scent trails so you don’t get fresh ants following their brothers to your sugar bowl.

Simply rub the fruit around the door frame or wherever they are getting in and squeeze the juice into any obvious cracks or holes. They’ll stay away and you won’t have a house full of powdery poison, so it’s win-win. Unless you’re an ant.

2. Scrub Your Work Surfaces Into Lemony Freshness

Kitchen chopping boards see too much of every flavour in the house, from onions and garlic being chopped to meat and fish being prepared. It’s a good idea to clean them properly with washing liquid of course; you don’t want to risk lingering bacteria when you next use it.

But scrubbing down a chopping board with a leftover half a lemon can freshen the whole thing and cancel out any remaining onionyness (just pretend it’s a word) or other pungent smells. It can also help reduce stains.

Not only that, the lemon scent won’t affect the food you next prepare on the board, unlike a lingering fish odour!

Some people use lemons to clean their bathrooms too, although that requires a fair amount of elbow grease to work effectively.

3. Whiten Your Fingernails

There are hundreds if not thousands of tips for using lemons as a beauty treatment but some of them can be quite harsh because the fruit is acidic. However, lemons can be used to whiten your fingernails with no long-term damage because the nail is tough and grows fast anyway.

Simply mix around 60ml of lemon juice with 250ml of warm water, adding a small squirt of liquid soap, and soak your nails for five minutes. When you’re done, wash them clean and moisturise your hands with a nail-strengthening cream and you’ll find the lemon juice has dissolved the stain particles on your fingernails, which the soapy water has then washed away.

Some people swear by simply sticking their fingers into the leftover lemon and leaving it for a few minutes before rinsing.

4. Freshen The House

Slice your leftover lemon up and throw it into a pan of boiling water. The smell of lemon will freshen up your kitchen and house without using any artificial candles or scents.

You can also use it to tackle any areas that get particularly smelly like the bin; simply scoop out the fleshy bit of the lemon and add salt to the remaining rind. It’s not beautiful but you can conceal it in a smell-prone area of the house and it will cancel out bad odours.

One thing to be aware of though: it’s not a good idea to use it in a cat’s litter tray. Cats don’t usually like citrus and the last thing you want it to put your moggy off doing it in the tray!

5. Banish Greasy Hair

Probably every teenage girl has soaked her hair in lemon juice and sat in the sun waiting for it to bleach, but we can’t say it’s particularly good for the hair or satisfactory as a bleaching agent. However, you can use lemon juice as part of your haircare regime as a way of beating a tendency to greasiness and stripping off the products that leave hair dull and limp.

It is acidic so it’s not something to use too often, but for limp, oily hair lemon juice can boost shine and reduce greasiness. It also leaves hair smelling great without the use of artificial products. The acidic nature of the juice removes build-up from haircare products and strips off the grease, while also tackling any lime-scale in your water so your hair left looking and feeling silky.

Those with greasy hair can mix lemon juice with warm water and soak it for a few minutes before rinsing. Don’t do it too often as the acidity could be very drying.

If you have dry hair but want to try this then mix the lemon juice with a tablespoon or two of olive oil, which you can leave on for longer before rinsing thoroughly.

One Last Option…

Finally, one other thing you can do with lemon is freeze it. If you cut it into drink-ready portions and store them in your freezer then when the sun finally comes, which it has to eventually, you’ll have fresh lemon ice-cubes to drop in your drinks. So whatever you do don’t waste that citrus, there’s always a way to use it up or save it for a drink…

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