18 Weird Ways to Use Citrus Peels Before Tossing Them

citrus peels

Citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, limes, and grapefruits are staples in kitchens worldwide, known for their juicy interiors and vibrant flavors. However, their peels are often discarded, despite being packed with aromatic oils, vitamins, and bioactive compounds. Before you toss these peels into the trash, consider the myriad of creative ways you can repurpose them. In this article, we'll explore the versatile uses of citrus peels that extend beyond the kitchen.

In the Kitchen: A Zest for Life

1. Zest and Flavor: Citrus zest is a culinary secret weapon. Finely grate the outer layer of the peel to add a burst of flavor to baked goods, marinades, and dressings. The zest contains concentrated citrus oils that infuse dishes with a fresh, tangy essence.

2. Infused Sugars and Salts: Blend citrus zest with granulated sugar or coarse salt and let it air-dry. These infusions can be used to rim cocktail glasses, season meats, or sprinkle over baked treats for a unique twist.

3. Citrus Peel Tea: Dry thin slices of citrus peel and store them in an airtight container. Steep them in hot water for a homemade citrus tea that's both refreshing and rich in antioxidants.

4. Homemade Vinegar Infusions: Soak citrus peels in a jar of white vinegar for a few weeks to create a citrus-infused vinegar, perfect for brightening up salads and adding acidity to recipes.

5. DIY Citrus Extract: Submerge citrus peels in vodka, seal tightly, and let the mixture sit for a few weeks. Strain it, and you have a homemade citrus extract for baking and cooking.

Around the House: Clean and Green

6. Natural Cleaners: Citrus peels contain d-limonene, a natural solvent that cuts through grease and grime. Create a homemade cleaner by infusing peels in vinegar, an excellent solution for cleaning surfaces and leaving a fresh scent.

7. Air Fresheners: Simmer citrus peels in water on the stove with spices like cinnamon or cloves. This natural potpourri will fill your home with a pleasant, cleansing aroma.

8. Garbage Disposal Deodorizer: Fresh citrus peels can help clean and deodorize your garbage disposal. Simply run a few peels through the disposal with cold water to freshen it up.

9. Moth Repellent: Dried citrus peels can repel moths. Place them in a cloth bag and hang them in closets or place them in drawers to keep your clothes smelling fresh and free of pests.

For Health and Beauty: Citrus Spa

10. Skin Scrubs: Mix ground citrus peel with a base like coconut oil and sea salt to create a natural exfoliating scrub. The citric acid helps brighten the skin, while the oils moisturize.

11. Bath Soaks: Add dried citrus peels to bath salts for a rejuvenating soak. The essential oils released from the peels can help to soothe the skin and relax the senses.

12. Natural Whitener: Rubbing a lemon peel on your teeth can help remove surface stains naturally. The citric acid acts as a mild bleach. However, use this method sparingly to protect your enamel.

In the Garden: From Peel to Plant

13. Composting: Citrus peels can be composted to add nutrients back into the soil. They break down over time, enriching the compost with minerals that are beneficial for plant growth.

14. Pest Deterrent: Scatter citrus peels around your garden to keep cats, dogs, and pests away from your plants. The strong scent of citrus is a natural deterrent for many animals.

15. Seedling Pots: Use halved citrus peels as biodegradable pots for starting seedlings. Fill them with soil, plant your seeds, and when ready, plant them directly into the garden.

For Fun and Creativity: Crafty Citrus

16. Citrus Candles: Hollow out citrus peels and fill them with wax to create natural candles. The oils in the peel will add a subtle fragrance as the candle burns.

17. Artistic Stamps: The end of a lemon or orange can be used as a stamp for crafts. Dip the end in paint and use it to create polka dot patterns or as part of a larger design.

18. Holiday Decorations: Dried citrus peels can be turned into festive decorations. String them up with cranberries and popcorn for a natural holiday garland or use them as ornaments.


The possibilities with citrus peels are virtually endless. By exploring these creative uses, we can reduce food waste, save money, and benefit from the natural properties of these colorful fruit covers. Whether in the kitchen, around the home, for personal care, in the garden, or for crafting, citrus peels provide an eco-friendly and versatile solution. So next time you enjoy a citrusy snack, think twice before discarding the peel; it might just be the ingredient you didn't know you needed.

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