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Lemons: Ten new, non-food uses for them

When life hands you lemons, there's a lot more you can do than just make lemonade!

So if lemons leave a sour taste in your mouth, you might want to know about ten surprising new, non-food uses for the handy little citrus fruit.

On "The Early Show" Tuesday, Sarah Humphreys, executive editor of Real simple magazine, spotlighted all ten:

Remove tough food stains from plastic and light-colored wooden cutting boards

-- The best way to clean a wooden cutting board is to use lemon juice because it's a natural bleach.

-- Slice a lemon in half; squeeze the juice onto the soiled surface, rub, and let sit for 20 minutes. Rinse with water.

-- The best part? You'll have a house that smells like a lemon grove rather than chemicals

Relieve a sore throat

-- When you're sick, the tissues in the back of the throat become inflamed, making it hard to swallow, let alone speak.

-- To relieve the pain without choking down liquid cough syrup, try using this lemon and honey mixture - it's simple, and you'll have the supplies right in your kitchen.

-- Cut a lemon in half and skewer over medium flame (on gas stove) or high flame (electric burner). Roast until the peel turns golden brown. Let cool slightly, and then mix the juice with 1 teaspoon of honey. Swallow the mixture.

Whiten fingernails

-- During the winter months your hands can become dry and nails can become brittle. To make them look younger the natural way, remove polish/give your nails a good scrub, then soak in pure lemon juice for 1-2 minutes.

-- Wash hands again with soap and water, and pat dry. Apply hand lotion to revitalize your winter hands and show off your bright nails.

Brighten laundry whites

-- Harsh detergents and bleach may take out stains, but they do not necessarily whiten better than other alternatives. Try using lemons or lemon juice to keep your laundry room bleach-free.

-- Add ½ cup strained lemon juice to the wash cycle of a normal-size load. As your whites soak in the warm water, the lemon juice will gently bleach the items in the load without harming the fabric.

Lemon as Toothpick Collector

-- Be sure to have a few lemons on-hand while entertaining at home. After guests finish their appetizers, encourage them to stick their used toothpicks into the lemon - that way, your tables, floors, and sofas will stay dirty toothpick-free. Reduces the mess for you to clean up in the long run.

Lemon Peel as Brown Sugar Softener

-- If your stock of brown sugar in the pantry is a little dried out, place a 3-inch long lemon peel into the bag and let it sit over night.

-- The liquid in the peel will seep out and keep the sugar moist and flexible so that it does not harden into a solid mass.

Lemon Peels as Bowls

-- As soon as the temperatures climb, there is no better treat than ice cream or sorbet served in frozen citrus peels. After using lemon halves, scoop out the pulp and freeze the peels.

-- Cut a small slice off the bottom of the lemon, so as the 'bowl' won't roll around on the plate.

-- Fill the peel with your favorite frozen treat for a quick snack that is easy to make but looks fantastic at a party.

Lemon juice to clean tile grout

-- Clean up dirty tile grout in the bathroom or laundry room with a simple lemon juice-based recipe. It may sound weird, but equal parts lemon juice and cream of tartar sauce makes a fantastic lime/mildew/dirt remover.

-- The lemon's natural whitening agent combined with the stable cream of tartar base makes a child-friendly, non-toxic bleach to use on high-traffic areas like the bathroom.

Shine copper

-- To gently clean copper, salt a lemon wedge and scrub the copper surface.

-- The coarse salt will act as an abrasive to strip the copper of dirt and grime, while the lemon will gently lift grease to bring your pots back to their original shine.

Remove soft cheese or other sticky foods from a grater

-- Cut a lemon in half, and rub the pulpy side of the fruit along both sides of the cheese grater in order to keep the grates clear of residue and sharp for years.

-- Plus, the acidity of the lemon will ward off rusting and scent is sure to beat the stench of harsh household cleaners.

For more form Real Simple on non-food uses for lemons, click here.

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