How Long Until Lemons Go Bad? Here’s What You Should Know

There are very few fruits as versatile and efficient as lemons. You can use their juice, zest, and even their peel.

You can use their juice for a refreshing drink or to cut the fattiness of a dish, you can use their zest for a lemony, fruity dessert, or you can use their peel for its essential oils or as a cocktail decoration.

Lemons are an all-in-one kind of fruit, which is always a bonus in terms of sustainability and waste management. They’re also quite affordable and keep well.

So, it’s not a surprise that they’re loved and consumed globally. If you’re like me and love lemons, you probably have some in your house right now.

But you’re probably not sure whether you are storing them correctly or not, or how long they last, so you came here looking for answers. No worries, I’ve got you covered.

Read on to learn everything you should know about the shelf-life of lemons and how to make them last longer.

How Long Do Lemons Last?

Luckily for us lemon-lovers, they are pretty easy to store and last quite a while. However, it will depend on what condition you are storing them, and whether they are whole or cut makes a huge difference in their shelf-life.

Whole Lemons

Whole lemons can last from 1 week up to 8 weeks depending on how you store them.

If you leave them on your countertop at room temperature, they will go bad in about a week or so. If you live in a hot climate, then they will perish even faster. When stored in a cool and dry pantry, they can between 2 to 3 weeks there.

However, the best method would be the refrigerator. Your whole lemons can last from 1 to 2 months in your refrigerator and won’t lose much of their aroma and freshness.

Cut Lemons

Cut lemons, on the other hand, are a whole different story.

If you cut a lemon and only use one half of it, then you should refrigerate the other half immediately, preferably covered in plastic wrap or in an airtight container to prevent it from drying out.

Otherwise, they can go bad in a matter of a couple days, as fresh lemons are highly prone to mold and organic growth.

What Does a Bad Lemon Look Like?

So, you have left your lemons way longer than you would have liked and now wondering whether you can still use them or not.

There’s no need to worry, it is pretty easy to spot a lemon that has gone bad. You only need to use your senses to spot the obvious clues. 


First of all, a fresh lemon should be firm to the touch. If your lemon has soft, squishy spots, or feels ‘slimy’, you should definitely discard it.


The color of a lemon is a great telltale sign of spoilage. A fresh lemon should have a vivid yellow color and a smooth skin.

If you notice any discoloration on your lemon, then it’s likely that it is not good anymore.


Even though lemons are very acidic, they are highly prone to mold growth.

If you see any white and greenish/blueish spots, any other discoloration or obvious mold growth on your lemons, you should discard them right away.

What Happens if You Eat a Bad Lemon?

Just like any other spoiled food, you can get food poisoning from consuming a bad lemon.

Even though small quantities probably won’t make much of a difference, if you’ve consumed a lemon that has gone bad and are not feeling very well, it’s possible that you may have gotten sick.

You may probably experience common food poisoning symptoms such as vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea, and nausea. If that is the case, you should seek medical attention right away.

It’s generally recommended to maintain proper food hygiene and a clean kitchen to prevent any foodborne illnesses. It can be a nuisance sometimes, but it’s worth it to ensure that you and your family stay healthy!

How to Store Lemons

If you want your lemons to maintain that zesty, zingy, bright flavor and aroma, you should know how to properly store them. This is because they can be altered and even deteriorate very easily depending on how you store them. The climate you live in can also have a significant impact.

In the Fridge

To keep them fresh for as long as possible, you should always store your lemons in your refrigerator. Humidity and hot weather will not only cause them to go bad faster, but it can also cause them to degrade in quality and lose their punchy flavor.

In the Freezer

If you’ve bought a big batch and don’t plan on using all of your lemons right away, you can always freeze them in a resealable freezer bag.

However, you should keep in mind that the longer you keep them in the freezer, the more they will lose their bright and refreshing aroma and flavors.

At Room Temperature

If you plan on using your lemons quickly, then you can definitely just keep them on your countertop or in your pantry.

When storing your lemons this way, a good rule of thumb is to keep them in a dry and cool place, away from any heat source as it can cause them to go bad really quickly.

How Long Can You Keep Lemon Slices in Water?

Lemons slices don’t only make a great addition to cocktails. They can also make a killer lemon-infused water!

They are full of healthy nutrients such as antioxidants and vitamins, so it’s a great idea to put a couple of lemon slices into your water to not only make drinking water a better experience, but also a healthier one.

Even though they will lose their bright color and firm texture in water in approximately 3 to 4 hours, they will still infuse your water with their refreshingly punchy and tangy flavor.

Your lemon-infused water should keep for 3 to 4 days when stored in the refrigerator.

What to Do with Lemons that are Going Bad

If you’re looking for an answer to this questions, I’m guessing you’ve bought a big batch of lemons and didn’t use them all, and some of them went bad. Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us.

The good news is that there’s quite a lot of things you can do with your spoiled lemons.

You shouldn’t throw them away if they are not completely rotten, in fact, I encourage you to minimalize waste by making use of your lemons even if they are spoiled.


Due to its high acidity level, lemons make for great cleaning product if you don’t want to waste your spoiled lemons. We are all familiar with microwaves that got dirtied by oil splatters and food spillage.

You can easily fix this issue by heating up the juice of half a lemon with a cup of water for about 5 minutes. The lemon-infused steam will moisten and soften up the stains and make it much easier to wipe afterwards. 


Spoiled lemons can also be utilized to polish your old and stained metal sink or any other metal kitchenware that is scratch-resistant.

Just sprinkle a teaspoon of coarse salt onto the surface you want to polish and rub with the cut side of half a lemon. It will not only clean and kill some bacteria, but also give it a shiny new look.


We all wash and clean the fruits and vegetables we buy from the grocery store, and it works for the most part. But there are still stubborn pesticides and dirt that won’t come off just by rinsing.

If you want to make sure your produce is spotless and pesticide-free, you can simply combine the juice of a lemon and 2 cups of water in a spray bottle and spray it on them as an antibacterial.

Also, even if we don’t see them, there are a lot of organic residue left in the nooks and crannies of a wooden or a plastic cutting board, in which harmful bacteria can multiply.

So, it would be a great idea to apply this same method to disinfect your cutting boards that are teeming with bacteria which can potentially make you sick.