The $1 Kitchen Sink Cleaning Trick Hiding in Your Pantry

published Mar 14, 2024
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Bowl of fresh fruit with bits of corkscrew.
Credit: Sarah Crowley

Lemons and cleaning go hand in hand. For me, the very scent of lemon can evoke the sense of a squeaky clean space. Cleaning with lemons is safe, natural, effective, and not only uses something you probably already have handy, but it’s also a great way to use up that drying-out lemon half you have leftover in the fridge! 

The sour fruit has so many uses when it comes to cleaning, especially in the kitchen. Homemade cleaners often feature lemons, like all-purpose cleaners made with lemons steeped in white vinegar, and degreasers made with lemon essential oil. Plus, there are so many cleaning methods that call for the power of lemons, like cleaning the microwave, removing stains from butcher blocks, polishing copper, and even cleaning cutting boards. One of my personal favorite ways to use lemons to clean my kitchen is to toss a few peels along with some ice cubes into my garbage disposal to give it an instant refresh. 

As an avid cleaner (who loves lemons!), I smugly thought I knew pretty much all the ways to clean with them. But when I came across this brilliant TikTok tip from cleaning blogger Chloe Coleman, I realized I missed one. It’s shockingly simple, but I’d never seen it before! And naturally, I had to try it. 

The trick involves using half a lemon with a sprinkle of baking soda on it to scour the kitchen sink. Like the acid in the lemon itself — just like citric acid in powder form — makes it super effective at cutting through grease, removing hard water marks, and disinfecting, essentially acting as a natural bleach, making it an ideal choice for cleaning a sink. The sprinkle of baking soda gives the method an additional boost for scrubbing and removing tough, stuck-on food and grime, as well as a slightly basic pH level that can help neutralize messes. 

Credit: Shifrah Combiths

I happened to have one of those half lemons in the fridge and grabbed it excitedly. I squeezed the lemon a little to loosen it up and coax it to release its juices, and then I took a spoonful of baking soda and sprinkled it on the lemon half. It fizzed a bit, which is always fun, and then I began to scrub the sink. 

Credit: Shifrah Combiths

It was a pleasant experience — I love the smell of lemons! Plus, there’s something really satisfying about getting the kitchen sink super clean. I made sure to run the lemon over every part of my large workstation sink, including all the surfaces of its grooves. I did find that I needed to sprinkle some additional baking soda on the lemon a few times because I wanted to ensure that I was scrubbing as well as I could. 

Credit: Shifrah Combiths

When I was done, I put the lemon in the disposal along with some ice cubes and ran it, then dried the sink. I was surprised by how accomplished this made me feel — even if the rest of the kitchen wasn’t perfectly tidy, at least the sink was completely reset, sparkly clean, and freshly deodorized. Cleaning the sink with a lemon is my new favorite kitchen cleaning trick, and I can’t wait for the next time I have a lemon to use! Bye-bye, store-bought sink cleaner.