The Very Last Thing You Should Do with a Juiced Lemon Half Before You Toss It

updated Jan 23, 2020
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

When life gives you lemons, get as much out of them as you possibly can. Seriously. Lemons, which are high in citric acid and low in pH, are good for so much beyond cooking and are especially powerful cleaning agents. For example, you can use them to scrub a wood cutting board, clean the grout between the tile on your kitchen backsplash, buff out rusty spots on your knives, freshen up a stinky drain, and more.

While we’re all for buying a few extra lemons (beyond what you’ll need for your weekly meal prep) for cleaning purposes, we’re also fans of making an already-spent lemon go the extra mile. Let’s say you just juiced one for a lemon tahini dressing or an anchovy vinaigrette? Or maybe you just whipped up a DIY lemon curd? Don’t be so fast to toss those juiced halves in the garbage! First, use them to clean one of the most annoying messes in your kitchen: the splatters in your microwave. 

Credit: Kitchn Video

Our official directions for cleaning a microwave with a lemon technically call for the juice of an entire lemon, but here’s the thing, if you stay on top of this task regularly (read: do it every time you need to juice a lemon), an already-spent lemon half is more than enough to cut through a little grease and grime.

Just drop the used lemon half (or both halves, if you have ’em!) into a microwave safe bowl, add about half a cup of water, and nuke everything for three minutes. Once the microwave beeps, keep the door closed and set another timer for five minutes. After that timer sounds, you can open the door, remove the bowl, and use a rag or paper towel to (easily) wipe down the insides of the microwave. Pro tip: Dampen the rag in the bowl if you need a little cleaning power. Just be careful, as the bowl and its contents will be hot!

We love this cleaning tip for a few reasons. For one, it’s a great way to get a little extra out of something you’ve already purchased. The lemony steam does most of the work for you and you’ll barely need any elbow grease to wipe away stains and splatters. And it’s a good way to make sure the microwave gets cleaned regularly (i.e., every time you have a lemon that’s headed for the trash) — before things get too bad in there.

When was the last time you cleaned the inside of your microwave?