Lemon juice has changed the way I do laundry – here's why I'll never wash whites without it

This kitchen staple is not the first thing you might expect to bring into your laundry room – but now I can't imagine it not being there

Lemons used to make lemon juice
(Image credit: GettyImages)

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade – or (in my case) you use them in your laundry. While I admit that lemons are still very much a part of my culinary habits, I've discovered a new usage for this citrusy staple. My favorite? Cleaning with lemon juice

Like everybody, my small laundry room ideas are centered around ensuring that my white clothes look and smell their best – and the process starts with how they're cleaned. This is where this powerful juice comes into play.  

I admit that my detergent does a good job of washing my clothes – and there are many other tricks to promote brightness and freshness (such as using white vinegar in laundry) without great expense. However, lemons – or, rather, lemon juice – take my whites to new heights. Here's how I use this juice and why I will never do a wash without it again. 

How I use lemon juice in my laundry – and why you should too

Lemons used to make lemon juice

(Image credit: GettyImages)

I had already heard how to clean your oven with lemon prior to trying this hack, so I was aware of this fruit's cleaning power. However, while you can use a lemon to tackle harsh grease in the kitchen, it is much softer when it comes to your laundry. 

After a friend confirmed that she'd also heard of putting lemon juice in the washing machine, I thought it would be worth a try, and I'm so glad I did. 

While I believe you can use pre-bottled juice (such as this one on Amazon), I do enjoy squeezing the lemons myself. I pressed enough to fill a cup halfway before adding it to my washing machine with my favorite white shirts, dresses, and towels. I usually put it in my detergent dispenser (alongside my detergent), but you can also add it to your drum.

After the washing cycle was complete, I removed the laundry and began to notice the results as soon as they started to dry.  

Lemons used to make lemon juice

(Image credit: GettyImages)

After just one wash, I noticed my whites looked notably brighter and emitted a subtle citrussy scent. Since then, I have used lemon juice in every white wash, and the results continue to impress (even after multiple coffee spills on my white shirts). 

Alongside the visible benefits, Bret Jackson, a professional cleaning expert at Letti & Co, adds that this technique has hidden advantages, too. 

'Lemon juice is a natural disinfectant and will help to kill any bacteria that may be present on your clothing,' he explains. 'It is a natural fabric softener and will help to keep your clothes looking and feeling their best.'

Naturally, I was also keen to hear exactly how this juice leaves my laundry looking so bright, and Bret was able to help with that too. 

'The fresh scent of lemon juice will leave your laundry smelling clean and fresh. It is also a natural bleaching agent, so it can help to brighten your laundry,' he says. 'Adding a bit of lemon juice to your laundry will help your clothes stay bright and clean.'

Lemons used to make lemon juice

(Image credit: GettyImages)

While hearing these cleaning tips may come with natural reservations (considering lemon's power), the expert reassures us that this fruit is unlikely to harm your laundry. In fact, they are safer to use than some other cleaners that are specifically designed for the job. 

'Lemon juice is also gentle on fabrics and will not damage them as some chemical cleaners can,' Bret says. 'Lemon juice also helps keep white clothes from getting dingy, and it can help remove stains from your clothes.'

Finally, adding lemon juice to your laundry will prevent the growth of mold and mildew, in case you need any more convincing. Next time you're washing your whites, I urge you to follow suit – I expect you won't regret it. 

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.