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Can You Mix Laundry Detergent and Lemon? (And how)

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Mixing some lemon in with your laundry detergent may seem like a good idea. They are both cleaners, right? And lemon smells wonderful. However, there are a few things you need to know before squeezing half a lemon into your washing machine.

You can not mix laundry detergent and lemon as the acidic lemon will neutralize the base laundry detergent making both ineffective for cleaning. If you want to use lemon for washing, it is better to add it together with the fabric softener near the end of the washing program.

For the rest of this article, I’m going to teach you how to use lemon juice for your laundry, and some important things you need to be aware of so you don’t ruin your clothes.

How to Use Lemon Juice to Wash Clothes

Lemon has a variety of beneficial uses in the laundry. From using it as a bleach substitute to rust removal and combating mildew, among others. Let us explore a few of these below.

Alternative to Bleach

Most commercial bleaches are quite effective in removing stains. However, they contain harsh inorganic ingredients in their formulation. And that is what makes lemon a great alternative. 

Lemon is a fantastic natural bleaching agent that is effective on a variety of stains. Due to its citric acids, lemon can clear most stains making white clothes even whiter. 

And the best part is that well-diluted lemon can be safely used on colored clothes as well. To use lemon, just cut the fruit in half, squeeze the juice on the stain, and let it sit for 30 minutes before washing normally. 

Alternatively, you can add a cup of lemon to your rinse cycle and enjoy the sweet ‘lemony’ smell in your wash.

Removing Rust Stains

If your favorite T-shirt gets a smudge of rusty stains, do not throw your garment yet. While the store-bought bleaches are effective against other stains, they are not as effective in rust stains. 

But rust stains cannot stand up to lemon. To use lemon, put some hot water in a basin. Next, apply some lemon juice to the stain and spread it evenly. 

Then lift the stain spot over the steaming water for 5 minutes. Launder normally, and the stain will be gone.

Removing Juice Stains

Juice can accidentally spill over your dress and can completely ruin your garment. But lemon can obliterate these stains in no time. 

All you have to do is add ½ cup of lemon to one cup of water in a bowl to make a thick solution. Use this solution to pretreat the stain and wait for 1 hour before washing normally.

Removing Mold and Mildew From Clothes

Once mold invades your clothes, it can form pesky stains that can completely ruin your clothes. However, with lemon juice, you can clear mildew stains fast. 

To make a mildew stain remover:

  1. Mix 1 part lemon and 1 part salt to create a paste.
  2. Use this paste to smear and cover the entire stain.
  3. Spread it in the sun to dry before washing with your normal detergent; rinse and dry.

Cleaning Leather

Lemon works wonders in cleaning your leather items. So whether you want to clean that leather jacket, bag, or shoe, lemon will help you do it. Lemon clears all kinds of muck off your leather, leaving them clean. 

If you want to use lemon, add ½ a cup of lemon to 1 liter of water and mix well. Alternatively, you can cut a lemon into halves and squeeze the juice into a bowl to make a cleaning solution. 

Dip a white piece of cloth in this solution, and use it to wipe the item. Use this solution continuously until the leather is cleaned completely. Afterward, you can wipe the leather with microfiber and buff it well.

But if you want your clothes to smell like lemon, you’re better off using dryer sheets or essential oil as they have a stronger smell and won’t leave your clothes soaked in lemon juice.

Does Lemon Juice Ruin Clothes?

We’ve enumerated several benefits of using lemon juice in stain removal. But can lemon juice cause stains? Unfortunately, the answer is yes, it can. 

But the lemon juice stains are mild, especially if acted on early enough. The problem with lemon juice stains is they may not show immediately on the fabric. 

And that is where the problem is because the more the stain stays on the fabric, the harder it is to remove. Additionally, lemon juice has a bleaching effect on the fabric. So, besides the stain becoming permanent, the clothes might experience discoloration.

To start, place the spot under running water to remove the fruit pulp from the stains. Then pretreat the stain with heavy-duty enzyme detergent, and wait for 20 minutes before laundering the garment normally.   

Does Lemon Juice Make White Clothes Whiter?

Lemon juice works wonders in whitening white clothes due to the presence of citric acid, which dissolves all manner of soil and stains from clothes. 

The best part about lemon juice is that it is an organic solution. Unlike other inorganic cleaning agents, lemon is not harsh on the skin, and it is eco-friendly.

Before using lemon on white clothing, be sure to do a few things;

  • Do a test on an inconspicuous spot to rule out its effect on the fabric you are washing. This could be an inside part of a pocket or an inside part of a seam.
  • Dilute appropriately to avoid wearing out the fabric.
  • Not all white clothes should be washed with lemon. For that reason, consult the garment care label for compatibility.
  • Use lemon juice separately without mixing with other cleaning agents. For instance, lemon juice with chlorine can result in toxic fumes. 

To use lemon juice, add ½ a cup of it to 1 liter of water to make a pretreating agent. Using this solution soak your garment for 1 hour before washing with your usual detergent.  

Will Lemon Juice Bleach Black Clothes?

Lemon juice can bleach black clothes. However, this happens if it stays on the clothes for a long period of time. As we noted above, citrus acid found in the lemon is the culprit. 

But all this is avoidable if you act on the stain immediately. With stains, you need to remove the pulp from the black clothes, then run the stain under water to dilute the acidity. 

Once the stain is diluted, the bleaching effect is reduced. You can then pretreat the stain with heavy-duty detergent to clear it.

Additionally, when using the lemon juice as a cleaning agent, all you have to do is to dilute the lemon juice appropriately. Once that is done, your black clothes are safe from lemon bleaching.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Lemon Juice Stain the Carpet?

Lemon stains are mild unless they overstay on the carpet. To remove juice stains from the carpet, first, remove the lemon juice pulp from the stain. 

Then, mix one tablespoon of dishwashing detergent with ½ a liter of water, and use it to blot away the stain. You can then vacuum the stain and air dry it.

Can Lemon Fade Carpet?

Lemon juice can stain carpets and make them dull. Although lemon juice isn’t visible immediately, it forms a murk that attracts dust and soil, making the carpet look dirty. 

That aside, lemon has a bleaching effect, and it may fade the carpet fibers. So to maintain the color of the carpet, remove the stain soon after the lemon spills on the carpet.

Can I Mix Ammonia With Lemon Juice?

Do not mix these two substances as they would form a reaction. Lemon juice which is acidic, would react with ammonia, a basic chemical, to form a neutral chemical that is unhelpful for your laundry.

Besides ammonia, you should also avoid mixing lemon juice with Hydrogen peroxide as it will resort to toxic substances. The rule of thumb is to use all stain-removing agents each at a time.

I have also written a complete guide on everything you can mix with laundry detergent that may interest you to read next.


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