15 Creative Uses for Citrus Peels

by | Updated: August 8th, 2018 | Read time: 3 minutes

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But hang onto those peels, because there are SO MANY wonderful uses for them—many of which, you’ve probably never even considered!

Sure, you can use lemon and other citrus zest to add tangy fruit flavor to seasonings, marinades, sauces, side dishes, dressings, entrees and baked goods. But we’ve rounded up some less obvious (yet equally apeeling) ways to make the most of the rinds of lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits.

Closeup of Orange Rind | Vitacost.com/Blog

Use peels from your favorite citrus fruits to:

1. Freshen breath

Lemon and orange peels make an excellent substitute for gum and mints. Simply chew on the peel for a few minutes and your breath will be fragrant and fruity!

2. Keep brown sugar soft

Over time, brown sugar becomes hard and clumpy. Place a citrus peel inside the bag to help keep the sweetener soft and malleable.

3. Infuse oil

Want to take plain EVOO to the next level? Simply combine approximately three tablespoons of lemon or orange zest with a cup of oil. Store the mixture in a glass jar for up to two weeks, shaking occasionally. When you’re ready, strain the oil to remove the zest and enjoy it with bread, salad and/or poultry.

4. Infuse tea

Citrus and tea make a perfect pairing. Add some lemon, orange or grapefruit peels to your favorite variety (during steeping) for a bright burst of fruit flavor. 

5. Perfume your bath

Want your bath to be relaxing and invigorating? Wash off some citrus peels and add them to the warm water. You’ll love the fruity fragrance!   

6. Brighten your skin

The alpha-hydroxy acids in lemon help brighten the skin. Make a simple lemon peel scrub by mixing one zested lemon peel with half a cup of sugar and slowly adding olive oil until a paste forms.

7. Make kindling

The next time you want to start a fire, use the peels of lemons, limes, oranges and/or grapefruits for kindling. It definitely beats searching for twigs and bark in the dark!

8. Add fragrance to your home

Citrus peels make a great alternative to chemical air fresheners. Simmer them in water on the stove or create your own potpourri by combining them with herbs, spices and dried flowers.

9. Clean your coffee pot

Put a few lemon peels, two tablespoons of salt and two cups of ice inside a cool coffee pot. Swirl the mixture around to remove any residue. 

10. Remove spots from dishes

Spotty dishes, glasses and silverware? Simply add a few lemon peels to your dishwasher to help prevent spots from forming.

11. Clean your microwave

Want to rid your microwave of grease and grime without using harsh chemicals? Fill a microwave-safe bowl about halfway with water and toss in some lemon peels. Microwave the mixture on high for approximately five minutes until it boils and steams. Remove the bowl and use a clean towel to wipe down the cavity of the microwave. 

12. Freshen your garbage disposal

Need to deodorize your disposal ASAP? Chop up some citrus peels, toss them into your sink and flick the switch.

13. Deodorize your trash can

You don’t have to settle for a stinky garbage can! Throw a handful of citrus rinds into the trash and stand back as their sweet fragrance works to mask any unpleasant odors.

14. Polish household metals

Impress friends and family with this simple household trick. To bring your chrome and stainless steel to a shine, just sprinkle sea salt over it and scrub the metal with a lemon peel.

15. Deter ants, insects and roaches

These pests aren’t fans of lemons and oranges. Simply rub citrus peels over your skin to keep insects at bay. You can also place the rinds near door frames, windows and other potential entry points of your home. One final hack: Blend two to three citrus peels with a cup of warm water and pour the mixture into an active anthill to send the bugs packing.

Love citrus? Fall in love with lemons! Click here for several Daily Uses for this Refreshing Citrus Fruit + Recipe.