Wondering what to do with half a lemon after using the other half in a recipe? There’s no need to toss it in the trash or forget about it in the fridge until it turns green!
Below, we share some of our favorite ways to use half a lemon in the kitchen, for cleaning, and even for beauty and skincare.
How to Store Half a Lemon
First, if you want to store your lemon for later, the best way to do so is to either put it in an airtight plastic container or simply wrap it tightly with plastic wrap, secure the plastic wrap in place with a rubber band, then pop it in the fridge. The key is to prevent the lemon from drying out.
If you find yourself with half a lemon on your hands a lot, you might want to consider investing in a lemon saver. They’ll keep a lemon half fresh for at least a week, if not longer!
Ways to Use Half a Lemon: In the Kitchen
1. Many people claim that the best way to start the day is with a glass of warm water with a squeeze of lemon juice, but if that’s not your thing, use half a lemon to make a pitcher of infused water instead. Cut the lemon into wedges or slices, then combine it with fresh herbs like thyme or rosemary, lime, cucumber, or orange slices, quartered strawberries, whole raspberries, or other fruit. As the water sits in the fridge, the flavors will infuse into it.
2. Slice the lemon as thinly as possible (use a mandoline slicer if you have one), then add the slicers to a sheet pan of roasted broccoli, chicken, potatoes, or cauliflower 5 minutes before they’re finished cooking. The lemon slices will caramelize and add flavor to the finished dish—and the slices themselves can be eaten!
3. These Lemon Cookies are brightened up with the flavor of real lemon juice. A half of a lemon is just about all you need!
4. Combine slices of lemon and slices of fresh ginger in a large mug and pour boiling water over the top to make your own lemony-ginger tea. Add a generous squeeze of honey to sweeten for the perfect cold or sore throat remedy.
5. To make a finishing salt for chicken or fish, combine the zest and juice from half a lemon with kosher salt or sea salt.
6. All you need to make a simple vinaigrette is olive oil and lemon juice, but you can also use half a lemon to make a classic Caesar dressing.
7. Is your lettuce a little soggy and past its prime? Fill a large bowl with cold water and stir in the juice from half a lemon. Add the lettuce and pop the bowl in the fridge for an hour. Drain and dry the leaves and they’ll be crisp again!
8. A little bit of lemon juice added to milk will make buttermilk lickety-split. Use one tablespoon of fresh lemon juice for every scant cup of milk.
9. Use half a lemon to make a 7-Up cake for dessert!
What to Do With Half a Lemon: For Cleaning
10. Generously sprinkle the cut side of the lemon with kosher salt. Then, use it to give your wooden cutting boards a good scrub; once you’re done, squeeze the lemon juice onto the board and let it sit for 5 minutes, then rinse. Not only does this clean cutting boards, it helps deodorize them too.
11. This same tip works for cleaning stainless steel and copper sinks, pans, and skillets. A salted lemon half will scrub away all those unexplained stains and spots.
12. Does the inside of your tea kettle have scale buildup? Scrub it with your leftover half lemon, then rinse well.
13. Place two cups of water in a glass measuring cup, then stir in the juice from half a lemon. Microwave until boiling, then let it sit for 5 minutes. Wipe down the inside of the microwave to get rid of grime and mess.
14. Deodorize and de-grease your garbage disposal by tossing your leftover lemon in there and turning on the water while you run the garbage disposal.
15. The secret to removing underarm stains on white shirts? Just combine equal parts lemon juice and water and give the stains a good scrub before throwing your clothes in the wash!
16. Lemon juice is excellent for cleaning hard water stains from glass shower doors. Combine the juice from half a lemon with a cup of water. The same combination works for cleaning windows.
17. For really stubborn hard water stains on a glass shower door, sprinkle a lemon half with salt and scrub away the buildup.
18. Grating a lemon half will help remove residue from your cheese grater.
19. Make your own bathtub or sink scrub by combining half a cup of baking soda with enough dish soap to make a paste, then spreading it onto the cut half of a lemon.
How to Use Half a Lemon: Beauty and Skincare Hacks
20. If you have age spots or hyperpigmentation, lemon juice can help lighten them—but it can also make your skin sensitive to the sun, so only do this at night! Just dab fresh lemon juice directly to the affected area and rinse it off at 15 minutes.
21. Blackheads got you down? Squeeze lemon juice onto a cotton round and rub it over your T-zone at night after washing your face.
22. Squeeze half a lemon into a small cup and whisk in a tablespoon of olive oil. Let your nails soak for a minute or two for a brightening treatment that also strengthens your nails.
23. Give yourself old school highlights by spritzing the juice from half a lemon onto your hair before going outside. The combination of lemon juice and sunshine will lighten your hair naturally.
24. Pedicure time! Give your feet some pampering by whisking together the juice of half a lemon with 1/4 cup of olive oil and 1/4 cup of coarse sea salt. Rub the mixture all over your feet, paying extra attention to rough areas, and let it sit for 10–15 minutes while you relax with a good book or cup of tea. Rinse and you’re ready for sandal season.
25. Make a hydrating face mask by combining the juice of half a lemon with two tablespoons of aloe vera gel and one teaspoon of honey. Slather the mixture all over your face and after 15 minutes, rinse it off with warm water.
Ways to Use Half a Lemon: Other Ideas
26. Freshen up your home (or add some much-needed humidity in the wintertime) by simmering a pot of water with lemon slices and rosemary or thyme sprigs on the stove.
27. If spring and summer bring ants into every nook and cranny of your home, squeeze lemon juice onto cotton balls and place them in areas where you see the ants gather. (You can also use straight lemon juice directly on the area, but because lemon juice is an acid, you’ll want to make sure it doesn’t damage the surface first.)