5 Uses for Lemon Juice in Laundry and Clothing Care

Lemon juice removes stains, whitens clothes. See more green living pictures.
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Key Takeaways

  • Lemon juice can brighten whites and remove rust and mildew stains from clothing when added to the laundry wash cycle.
  • It serves as a natural fabric softener and whitener when mixed with baking soda, making clothes softer and whiter without the use of harsh chemicals.
  • Applying lemon juice to leather shoes with a soft cloth can clean them and leave them shiny, offering a natural alternative to shoe polish.

These days, most store-bought cleaning products are laden with unpronounceable chemicals that you really don't want to put in your laundry. Sometimes with tough stains, you really don't have the option of using natural stain removers, but wouldn't you generally prefer to use the most natural products in your household and on your laundry?

Lemons are a powerful citrus fruit with enzymes in their acids that are strong enough to whiten everything from your teeth to your new cotton blouse. Read on for five simple solutions for using the cleaning power of lemons in your laundry and clothing care.


5: Bleach Alternative

If you feel like your whites aren't clean unless they come out smelling faintly of swimming pool, then you'll be happy to know that a little old lemon is a great bleach alternative. Not to mention, it smells a lot better.

The citric acid in lemons helps to break down stains and get those dingy whites back to bright. And unlike bleach, lemon juice is safe for colors, too. Just add one cup of lemon juice to your load of wash along with your usual detergent.


4: Eliminate Rust Stains

Well, this shirt is ruined -- unless you use lemon juice on those rust stains!

You're wearing your favorite white shirt and you swipe up against something rusty. Now you're wearing that, too. Bleach is great at removing chocolate, ketchup and coffee stains, but it only makes rust stains more permanent. What's a girl to do? Lemon juice to the rescue!

Just boil some water in a tea kettle or on the stove and wet the rust stain with lemon juice. Hold the stained area directly over the steam for a few minutes, taking care not to get a steam burn. Then just wash the garment as you normally would.


3: Removing Juice Stains

This solution will work on carpet, too.

Most of your kid's clothes you can just pop in the washer, but not that sweet little sailor dress with the crisp white apron from Aunt Jenny. You know, the one she always wants to see your little darling in at get-togethers. With the knowledge that the white apron will stay clean for all of 15 minutes before said darling drops her sippy cup and the juice splatters all over it, you'll be glad to know that a mixture of 1/3 cup lemon juice with 2/3 cup water will get that juice stain right out. Simply soak the stain in this solution and then wash.


2: Mold and Mildew Stain Paste

Mold and mildew are happy to find a home in organic materials like fabric, paper and leather. If you live in a humid environment or a home without proper airflow, you're bound to come across some sooner or later. They can damage fabrics by causing discoloration or even eating through the material.

Fortunately, a paste of lemon and salt is a great spot treatment for tough mildew stains. Simply apply the paste to the stain, set the item in the sun to dry and then wash as you normally would -- preferably in hot water to kill any remaining mold spores.


1: Shine Your Shoes

Don't pay to have someone else do it; save your money!

Even though there are quite a few alternative materials to leather these days that are cheaper and easier to care for, many consumers still prefer the look and quality of a finely crafted leather shoe. While leather makes a great shoe, the big downside is the care it requires.

To keep leather shoes in good shape, they need regular cleaning and shining. A soft cloth dampened with lemon juice is great for cleaning your favorite shoes, while leaving them nice and shiny as well.


Adapted from "Lemon Juice: Lighten Your Hair and Solve Household Problems," © 2009 Publications International, Ltd.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can lemon juice damage fabrics?
Lemon juice is generally safe for most fabrics, but it's always best to do a spot test on a hidden area first, as its acidity might affect delicate or colored textiles.
How long should I let lemon juice sit on stains before washing?
For the best results, let lemon juice sit on stains for at least one hour before laundering, but not so long that it dries completely, as it could make the stain harder to remove.

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