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17 Smart Uses for Orange Peels: Creative Ideas for Reuse

orange harvest_Erol Ahmed_Unsplash

There is nothing as refreshing as a glass of orange juice, right? Oranges pack a lot of vitamin C and a revitalizing flavor. It’s no wonder that oranges are some of the most popular fruits in the world. But what do you do with the orange peels after eating an orange? Don’t be too quick to throw these peels away; you will be surprised to learn just how many nifty uses orange peels have.

That’s right! Orange peels do not belong in the garbage disposal or trash anymore. Sure, when you dump the peels in your yard, they will naturally decompose (because they are biodegradable) and add nutrients to your garden. But there are many other reasons why you shouldn’t toss your orange peels away.

So, before you toss your peels in the trash, check out these 12 creative ways of reusing your orange peels. We have divided the uses into four classifications: household, kitchen, cosmetic and outdoor uses.

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The 17 Household Uses of Orange Peels

There are astonishingly many uses for orange peels around the house. So, next time you enjoy a delicious cup of fresh orange juice, consider trying out these uses of peels in your home.

1. Removing Limescale

Image Credit: Losonsky, Shutterstock

Oranges contain citric acid, and so do the peels. Citric acid is the most effective product in removing stubborn limescale stains in the kitchen and bathroom. It not only cleans but also disinfects the surfaces. You just need to collect a bunch of fresh orange peels. Using the inside of the peel, rub the affected faucets to give them a glossy new look.

2. Neutralizing Odors

Nothing is more unpleasant than a stinky or musty smell in your house. These smells could emanate from a full dustbin, infrequently used closets, or even plastic bowls and lunch boxes. Fortunately, you can neutralize the raunchy odors with orange peels.

When you enter a room with oranges, you can immediately smell and recognize their pleasant smell. So, rather than emptying your dustbin at the first whiff of an unpleasant smell, add orange peels to the bin liner to mask the smell.

You can also nix the musty smell from your closet by adding orange peels to a cloth, then tie one end and set the cloth on a shelf. The pith will absorb and neutralize all the odors from your closet while giving off a fresh fragrance. To neutralize the smell of perhaps the stale food from your lunch box, rub them with orange peels and give them a good wash.

3. Cleaning Wood Surfaces

Wood surface_Tirachard Kumtanom_Pexels
Image Credit: Tirachard Kumtanom, Pexels

Not only will reusing orange peels to wipe down your wooden surfaces leave your cabinets and tables shiny and clean, but it will also give them a fresh smell. To make this food cleaning solution, combine your orange peels with some vinegar to create a natural, non-toxic cleaner.

Simply fill a glass jar halfway with orange peels, and pour vinegar over the top until the jar is full. Then, let it sit for at least two weeks. After letting the solution soak, sieve it to remove the peels. Pour the liquid into a spray bottle, and you are good to go! Alternatively, infuse some boiling water with vinegar and orange peels.

4. Bug Repellant

Orange peels contain a 90 to 95 % concentration of limonene. This chemical is toxic to houseflies, mosquitoes, and moths, among other bugs. So, if bugs are a nuisance in your home, orange peels will come in handy. Put snippets of the peels near your doors, windows, and around your yard. It is a simple and inexpensive way of deterring pesky insects from getting into the house. For individual use, you could also rub orange peels on areas of your skin prone to bug bites.

5. Fabric Softener

Dirty laundry_Annie Spratt_Unsplash
Image Credit: Annie Spratt, Unsplash

You can use untreated orange peels as an alternative to manufactured fabric softeners. To make the softener, place some orange peels into a cotton bag and add them to your dirty laundry. The peels will help soften the water while adding a pleasant orange smell to all washed garments.

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Outdoor Uses for Orange Peels

6. Repelling Slugs, Ants, and Cats from Your Plants

Many pests and insects abhor the smell of citrus fruits. To minimize damage to your priced potted plants, spread orange peels around your windows and doors to keep the pests and insects away. These peels can repel slugs from your plants. Coarsely grind the peels and sprinkle them on the soil around your plants.

Ants can also barely stand the strong citrus smell from orange peels. If dealing with an ant infestation in your garden, placing a few orange peels around the affected area should keep them at bay. The peels will also repel aphids. The small insects may love citrus scents, but when you spray them with an orange peel citric acid solution, it will weaken their vulnerable bodies, eventually killing them.

Cats also tend to munch on some garden plants, thus destroying them. Plants are also mildly toxic and can give them a stomach ache. Fortunately, these fluffy animals cannot stand the smell of orange peels. So, placing orange peels around your yard should keep them away from your plants.

7. Adding Acidity to Your Soil

Image Credit: Duane Hirst, Shutterstock

Some plant species tend to thrive in acidic soils. If you intend to plant perennial crops that need high acidity levels in the soil, orange peels could come in handy. Add some shredded pieces of orange peels to the hole before planting.

However, you should first find out if your plants do well in acidic soil. Read the planting instruction tag on your seeds to determine the required acidity levels. If a tag is absent, consult a professional gardener or visit a trusted website for pH details.

8. Composting

Compost is a cheaper and easier way of keeping your plants nourished. It is a better alternative to manufactured fertilizers. Collect orange peels, shred them, and add them to the compost heap.

Orange peels are a great addition to compost because of their high nitrogen content. The compost materials will decompose and form what gardeners call “black gold” soil. This soil will give your plants a tremendous development boost. Just don’t add too many peels or you could destroy the insects that assist in the decomposition process.

9. Making a Bird Feeder

Cute hummingbird sitting on bird feeder
Image Credit: chris-f, Pexels

Orange peels make excellent bird feeders for holding different treats for your birds. However, the orange must be sliced in half for this application. Remove the peel from the orange, ensuring you do not flatten it. Drill three holes near the top of the peel and thread some strings through the holes. Tie the makeshift feeder on a tree, add bird seed and wait for the birds to arrive. This method of making DIY home feeders is significantly cheaper and easy to do.

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10. Cleaning the Microwave

We all know how annoying it is when a microwave develops stubborn stains from usage. It can not only give off a bad smell but destroy the microwave components too. It is also very unhygienic. Fortunately, orange peels can effectively clear out even the most stubborn stains.

So, to clean that stubborn tomato soup spatter in the microwave, put a few orange peels in a heatproof bowl and turn on the microwave heat for 5 minutes. The steam produced will loosen the stain buildup, while the citric acid kills the bacteria. Proceed to wipe off with a damp cloth.

11. Refreshing Your Fridge

Orange juice inside refregerator_Aleksey Kurguzov_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Aleksey Kurguzov, Shutterstock

A fridge can develop a sour smell over time. If you notice the smell, throw a few pieces of orange peels into your fridge- that can sweeten the smell in no time. Experts even recommend filling an orange rind with salt and leaving it in the refrigerator for a while. The salt absorbs moisture from the fridge’s air and releases a citrus scent. Once the salt dampens, remove the peels and replace them as needed.

12. Softening Brown Sugar

If you leave an open bag of brown sugar in the pantry, it will form rock-hard clamps. You can prevent brown sugar clumping by using orange peels. The composition and properties of orange peels allow them to maintain moisture. So, placing a few pieces with your brown sugar will allow moisture to spread throughout the container.

Toss a few slices of three-inch long orange peels in the package when storing the sugar in your pantry. The sugar will return to its soft state in just a few hours.

13. Cooking

rubbing orange zest on grater_Sergey Nesterchuk_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Sergey Nesterchuk, Shutterstock

Bakers and chefs would be dumbstruck by the idea of throwing away orange peels. The peels can be repurposed for use in recipes that require orange zest. Zest from these citrus fruits is the most concentrated flavor source.

To use orange peels for baking, grate them using a zester. Then, add a teaspoon of zest to flavor salad dressing or poultry dishes.

Bakers use orange zest to infuse sugar into different recipes. For instance, you can use orange zest to bake brown sugar orange-glaze cinnamon rolls or even orange vanilla cupcakes.

In most cases, two teaspoons of zest will have more orange flavor than the entire orange fruit. So, be mindful of the amount of zest you add to avoid overpowering your dishes.

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14. Conditioning Hair

We are all aware that oranges pack a load of vitamin C that helps boost the immune system, but who knew the fruit would work wonders for the hair too? Indeed, orange peels have cosmetic applications and can help condition your hair, even locks. The peels can help strengthen and shine your hair strands if you have dry hair with split ends.

To make a homemade hair conditioner from this citrus fruit species, put orange peels into a blender and run it. Apply the serum produced to the full length of your hair and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Shampoo and wash as normal, then enjoy the soft and smooth outcome.

15. Skin Serum

Skin serum_Karolina Grabowska_Pexels
Image Credit: Karolina Grabowska, Pexels

Vitamin C serum is a popular product amongst skincare enthusiasts. The serum is usually expensive and most people cannot afford it. To save some money, you can make vitamin C serum from orange peels.

Simply boil some orange peels and allow water to infuse. Strain the liquid and pour the serum into a glass jar to store in the fridge. Apply the vitamin C serum following your skincare routine.

16. Homemade Bath Oils

Nothing is more relaxing than soaking in a bath after a long day at work. Bath oils can even make the experience more spa-like. Instead of purchasing the slightly expensive bath oils or going to a spa, you can easily make your batch at home using orange peels.

Just collect the leftover orange peels and add them to a container with coconut oil. Let the solution sit for a week to allow the flavors to infuse. Pour a few drops of the oil into your bath while running.

17. Breath Freshener

Orange Peel_Didgeman_Pixabay
Image Credit: Didgeman, Pixabay

As you already know, the citric scent in orange peels is ideal for freshening fridges, closets, and garbage bins. So, it makes perfect sense that the peels are used as breath fresheners. This is because they have antibacterial properties. Chewing on fresh orange peels will kill the bacteria in our mouths responsible for bad breath.

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After reading this article, you shouldn’t have any more excuses for tossing orange peels away. These peels have versatile applications not only in the crafting world but also in cosmetics and nutrition. You can also use the peels for DIY home projects.

Whether making some vitamin C serum for your skin, whipping up your batch of the essential all-purpose cleaning formula in a spray bottle, or repelling insects and pests away from your garden, there are many ways to repurpose leftover orange peels.

We hope that the above ideas will inspire you to use orange peels in your garden, kitchen, or a living room instead of treating them like garbage. Do not be limited by our list, be creative, and you could come up with more applications of orange peels on your own.

Featured Image Credit: Erol Ahmed, Unsplash


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