Does Lemon Actually Make Things Cleaner?
Purpose or Problem
The purpose is to determine if the addition of lemon to cleaning products aids in actual cleaning or if the only reason it is an ingredient is to increase sales (because most people associate the scent of lemon with cleanliness).
Lemons and lemon juice have long been used in cooking, drinks, and candies. But, walk down the aisles of a supermarket today and you'll see many cleaning products that boast of containing lemon (or at least a lemon scent). Look at the advertising on the labels of general-purpose liquid cleaners, shower and tub cleaners, dishwashing soap, glass cleaners, and shampoo. And, you'll see marketing phrases highlighting lemon, such as "Lemon Fresh!" and "New Lemon Scent!"
The scent of lemon is a smell most people psychologically associate with cleanliness and freshness. Manufacturers have capitalized on this fact, as is evidenced by their promotion of a lemon ingredient in their advertising.
Is lemon added to household cleaners only for marketing purposes or does lemon juice actually have cleaning properties?
Hypothesize that lemon juice is included as an ingredient in many cleaning products, not only for its psychological association with cleanliness and freshness, but also because it has true cleaning properties. (Or, you could hypothesize the opposite, that the addition of lemon is solely for marketing purposes.)
- Several fresh lemons
- Tarnished penny
- Tarnished piece of silverware (fork, spoon, bowl, and so forth)
- Use of a glass window (car or house)
- Use of a kitchen countertop
- Copper bottom pot
- Chrome surface
- Plastic item
- Dirty dinner dish
- Greasy pan bacon was fried in
- Kitchen strainer or small piece of screen
- Old rag or washcloth
Squeeze the juice from several lemons through a small piece of screen or a kitchen strainer into a cup. The strainer will keep pulp to a minimum.
Evaluate the effect of pure lemon juice as a cleaning agent on various surfaces by rubbing them with an old rag or washcloth. Surfaces to evaluate include a copper penny or a copper bottom pot; a tarnished piece of silverware; a chrome surface, such as a bathroom faucet; a kitchen countertop; a dirty dinner dish; a glass window in your home or a car windshield; and something made of plastic (a child's toy or a telephone). Try to clean as many different surfaces as you can. Do not, however, try to clean any valuable object, such as a wooden dining room table or the upholstery of a living room couch. You do not want to run the risk of staining or damaging any valued object. Lemon juice is acidic. Instead, use an old piece of fabric or an old discarded piece of furniture on which to experiment. Also, when you take a shower, try lemon juice as a shampoo and a soap. Just be careful not to get it into your eyes.
Write down the results of your experiment. Document the effect of lemon juice on each surface. Did it make the surface cleaner? Did it leave the surface sticky? Did it leave a film on glass? Was it effective at dissolving grease?
Come to a conclusion as to whether or not your hypothesis was correct.
How many products (other than food-related products) can you find that have lemon or lemon scent as an additive? Soap? Laundry detergent? Car air fresheners? Spray starch for ironing?
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