As far as I’m concerned, winter doesn’t have many redeeming qualities. When I moved from Southern California to Portland, it took me all of one full winter to conclusively declare, “Nuh-uh”.
I mean, autumn offers amazing leaves and pumpkin spice smells, and spring is all about awakenings and a darling little crocus peeking out of a crack in the concrete. But winter? Well, I guess there’s the Hanukkah/Solstice/Christmas jag. That’s pretty good. And then there’s snow, which is definitely fun (at least at first). And of course, the one seasonal standard that really gets me excited: Winter means citrus!
Citrus for juicing and citrus in my baking, orange glazes on lentil loafs and lemon-scented salad dressings. Grapefruit for breakfast and limes in my seltzer. Yes, I do love the winter for its citrus.
But citrus isn’t just for eating and drinking. These amazing acidic fruits can be used for all sorts of awesome and easy DIY projects around the house - repurposed into cleansers and pest control, beauty products and penny savers.
1. Use leftover lemon rinds to clean your garbage disposal, by sending them down the drain with a few cubes of ice.
2. Alternately, throw juiced rinds into your dishwasher (yep, free floating, just toss ‘em in) and marvel at the brightened, spotless, residue-free dishes.
3. Soak light-colored clothing, white tennis shoes, and other similar textiles in lemon water, then dry them outside in direct sunlight. It’s an all-natural bleach! This also works well for getting rid of yellowed pit stains (not that you have any of those, I’m sure).
4. Add lemon juice to your laundry as a detergent-booster and brightener.
5. Apply undiluted lemon juice to ink or rust stains, then wash the garment as normal. If you add salt to make a thick paste, it’ll work wonders on mildew stains.
6. You can use pure lemon juice to polish copper. Lemon with a bit of salt will polish brass or stainless steel. Lemon sprinkled with cream of tartar will polish aluminum. All of these are great for cleaning a faucet (whatever metal it may be) and removing lime scale or hard water deposits.
7. Make a paste out of lemon juice and baking soda, which you can then use to clean linoleum and grout stains.
8. A simple solution of lemon and liquid jojoba oil (other oils go rancid), in a ratio of 1:2, is ideal for cleaning and polishing wood furniture.
9. A little lemon juice (or leftover peel) rubbed on the hands removes nasty food smells, like garlic or onion or fish. It’ll also remove food stains from your skin, like beets or berries or turmeric root.
10. Rub half a lemon over your cutting board to deodorize and sanitize.
11. The high-acidity of limes will actually break down chewing gum. Use lime juice to disentangle gummy hair, or to free up gum-gunked clothing. (Lemon will work as well, but lime is best.)
12. Boil leftover fresh orange peels as a free and easy air-freshener.
13. Save your orange peels and air-dry them spread on paper or cloth towels. Then bind them up in little sachets, and throw one in each of your drawers. They smell great and they even help to keep critters away.
14. Use cloves to stud an orange, then put it in your closet to ward off moths (just don’t forget about it in there!). Dried citron peel will do the same.
15. Add orange peels to your garbage to keep bugs away (especially useful in outdoor situations, such as camping).
16. Place a whole orange in the blender and cover it with water (must be whole and include the oily peel). Blend completely, strain, and fill a spray bottle. Use the solution to keep ants at bay around the house.
17. A bit of orange peel in your brown sugar will keep it from getting hard and clumpy.
18. Dry it completely and then use it as kindling to start your fire. No, really! It’s effective and it smells great (orange works as well).
19. Fresh grapefruit peel in the bath tub offers a cheap alternative to fancy soaking salts. It’s refreshing and enlivening, and really great for your skin.
20. Cut a grapefruit in half and dip it in sugar. You’ve got yourself an excellent exfoliator!
21. Cut a grapefruit in half and dip it in salt. Now you’re ready to scrub the tub!
22. Use a solution of grapefruit juice with vinegar to clean your kitchen and bathroom (non-wood) floors.
23. Zested citrus rind, added to the vacuum bag, will lightly diffuse the scent around as you vacuum.
24. Sprinkle citrus peels around your garden, to keep it from becoming the neighborhood litter box (kitties hate the smell. BTW, did you know that you can toilet train your cat?).
Happy winter, and here’s to turning freezing lemons into lovely summery lemonade!