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What to Do With Orange Peels? [27 Nifty Ideas!]

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What to do with leftover orange peels? Well – if you’re like most people, when you finish eating an orange, you then toss the peel. But did you know that there are many uses for orange peels that can benefit your relaxation, beauty routine, and home?

Read on to learn 27 ways to use orange peels that you may not have thought of before.

How Can You Use Leftover Orange Peels?

You can use leftover orange peels as compost, eat them, or use them to make a birdfeeder. There are tons of other ideas too! Here are a few ideas to help you use those leftover orange peels. But before you start working with your orange peels, it’s a good idea to ensure they get thoroughly washed. 

Washing the peels isn’t something you probably care too much about when you’re just eating fresh oranges – but if you’re going to repurpose the peels, be sure they’re washed thoroughly in a vinegar and water solution. Ideally, only use leftover orange peels from fruits untreated with pesticides.

27 Ways to Use Old Orange Peels

Never throw away an old orange or lemon peel again. Instead, consider one of these orange peel repurposing tips!

1. Turn Your Orange Peels Into Homemade Tea

homemade orange peel and cinnamon tea
Dried orange peels are one of the most underrated kitchen ingredients! Dehydrated orange peels add a delectable citrus flavor to homemade teas. Serve the tea (iced or warm) in tall mason jars. Add a lemon peel or two for a zesty and fresh scent. We also read an excellent orange peel preservation guide from the University of California’s Agriculture and Natural Resources blog. They recommended grinding the dehydrated orange peels into a dry powder. Then you can add the dried orange powder to yogurts, homemade bread, and other baked goodies. We think all are yummy ideas!

One great way to use orange peels is to make tea. Place the peels in a pot of boiling water and allow them to steep for a few minutes. You can then remove the peels and enjoy your tea. Hot homemade tea infused with orange peels is excellent on a cool autumn or winter evening!

We also love enjoying orange peel tea with a fresh orange as they’re beneficial for digestion and can help to boost your immune system.

2. Use Orange Peels to Whiten Your Teeth

Yes! Rubbing an orange peel on your teeth for two minutes can help to remove stains and whiten them naturally.

3. Make Orange Peel Scrub

fresh orange body scrub using coconut oil and sugar
We love turning leftover peels into a relaxing exfoliating scrub. During the cold, windy weather, our skin needs all the help it can get! So we add a few drops of essential oils and orange, lemon, or lime peels and make a relaxing body scrub. The citrus scent is refreshing and perfect for the upcoming holiday season. We also found an excellent exfoliation scrub recipe on the North Carolina Extension blog. The body scrub recipe is surprisingly easy and contains our favorite ingredients – like vanilla and citrus peels!

Mix equal parts of dried orange peel powder, sugar, and olive oil to create a natural exfoliating scrub that will leave your skin feeling soft and smooth.

4. Dry Orange Peel for a Face Pack

Dry some orange peels and grind them into a powder. Add enough water to make a paste, then apply it to your face and let it sit for 15 minutes before rinsing it off. Doing this once a week can help to clear up your skin and reduce blemishes.

5. Use Orange Peels to Remove Dark Spots

Orange peel contains citric acid, which can help lighten dark spots on your skin caused by sun damage or acne scarring. Apply some fresh squeezed orange juice or rub an orange peel on the affected area and let it sit for 30 minutes before washing it off. Repeat this process daily until you see results.

One vital thing to note is that while orange peel can help remove and limit dark spots on your skin, it can lead to more sensitivity. It is probably less likely to do this than synthetic chemical treatments you might purchase over the counter. However, be cautious of your time in the sun after using an orange peel solution for your skin, and discontinue use if you notice any sensitivity.

6. Boil Orange Peels to Make Your House Smell Good

orange peels boiling in saucepan with syrup
If your home feels too dry this winter, boil a few orange peels. (Add orange peels to boiling water.) Doing so helps humidify the air and introduces an aromatic orange zest. Never leave the boiling hot water unattended. Don’t risk a fire hazard by dozing off on the couch! And if you think the boiling orange peels smell delicious, you can take things a step further. We found an excellent orange peel sauce recipe on the Michigan State University Extension blog. They recommend using the orange peel sauce to flavor eggrolls. Or waffles. We’ll try some of both!

Boiled orange peels can make your house smell great! Add the peels of two to three oranges to a pot of water and let it boil. Then, turn off the heat and let the pot sit so the fragrance can fill your home.

Read More!

7. Use Orange Peels to Polish the Wood

If you have wood furniture that could use a little polishing, try using an orange peel! Rub the inside of the peel on furnishings needing a polish. Rub in the direction of the grain to Buff it up. You can add a dash of olive oil to the peel to give the furniture a nice shine.

8. Keep Your Brown Sugar Fresh

Keep your brown sugar soft and fresh by storing it with an orange peel! Place an orange peel in the container with your brown sugar. It will help absorb liquid in the air, preventing the sugar from hardening.

9. Make an Orange Zest

freshly chopped rhubarb and grated orange peels
Many Asian and meat dishes go wonderfully with an orange flavor. Try adding sliced and diced peels to your vegetable or chicken stir-fries. You don’t need extra orange skin to use this method. Grab your vegetable peeler, and get to work! We also read an outstanding orange storage guide from the University of California’s Division of Agriculture. They advise using your dehydrated orange peels to flavor homemade bread, fudge, baked goods, stuffing, ice cream, granola, and other recipes. We want to try them all, starting with orange peel fudge!

Orange zest is a great way to flavor baked goods and savory dishes. To make your orange zest, use a grater or zester to remove the outermost layer of the orange peel. Be sure to avoid getting any white pith beneath the peel, as it can be bitter. 

10. DIY Orange Peel-Infused Olive Oil

olive oil infused with garden herbs and spices
Olive oil is probably our favorite cooking oil above all others. We use it for cooking fried eggs and grilled cheese sandwiches in the pan. It’s also perfect as a salad dressing! The best thing about olive oil is that you can season and infuse it with any flavor you wish. Here you see various olive oils seasoned with orange peels, mustard seeds, whole peppercorn, oregano leaves, thyme, and rosemary. Don’t forget plenty of garlic and onion.

Are you looking for a way to spice up your cooking? Why not infuse your olive oil with some fresh orange peel? Add some strips of peeled orange rind to a bottle of olive oil and let it sit for about two weeks. The longer it sits, the more flavor it will have. But be sure to remove the peels before using the oil! They can go bitter over time. 

11. Make Candied Orange Peel

candied orange peels and lemon cooked in syrup
Oranges are a popular fruit for making sweet homemade goodies. And we’re not just talking about yogurt and ice cream. Candied orange peels are at the top of our list! They make an excellent festive snack, perfect around Christmas and the holidays. We also found a yummy candied orange peel recipe on the Culinary Institute of America blog. The candied orange peel recipe is the second recipe on the page, so scroll down a little to see the recipe. (The first recipe is an Italian Easter bread recipe that looks delicious!)

Candied orange peel is a delicious treat that can get used in many ways. For example, try adding it to cakes or cookies for extra flavor. Or, you can enjoy it on its own as a sweet snack. Here’s how to make candied orange peel. Start by boiling the peels in water for about 10 minutes. Then, drain the water and coat the peels in sugar. Allow them to dry on a wire rack, and enjoy!

12. Use as a Sponge

Believe it or not, orange peels can get used as a natural sponge! The next time you need to clean up a spill, try using an orange peel instead of a paper towel. Just rub any messy spill with the peel until it’s absorbed, then throw it away. You can also use orange peels to help scrub stubborn dirt and grime.

13. Make a Non-Toxic Cleaning Spray

organic homemade cleaning detergent using orange peels and vinegar
Some homesteaders think we’re bluffing when we say orange peels can help clean your kitchen. But we’re not blowing smoke. Orange peels are excellent natural cleaners – and this claim gets backed by science! We read from the Bastyr University blog that the citric acid in citrus helps sanitize fridge shelves, kitchen areas, and accidental mealtime spills. Their website also gives excellent tips for creating a vinegar-based cleaner using citrus peels (and other sustainable products) in more detail. It’s worth reading!

Are you looking for a natural way to clean your countertops? Look no further than your leftover orange peels! Add water and vinegar in a two-to-one ratio – two parts water, one part vinegar. Add some citrus peels (orange, lemon, or grapefruit would work well) into a spray bottle, and voila! You have yourself a homemade cleaning solution that smells great and works wonders!

14. Turn Your Orange Peel Into a Candle

festive candlestick made with orange peels
Turning your leftover citrus peels into a homemade candle or candle silhouette makes for an excellent festive theme! Here’s a tutorial from BuzzFeed Nifty showing how to build a DIY orange candle. Whether it’s Halloween or New Year’s Eve, we bet you’ll have a ton of fun assembling these. As always – don’t burn them unattended!

One of the most popular ways to use leftover orange peels is to create candles. Candles are a great way to add a unique scent to your home. Candles are also a great way to upcycle something that would otherwise get thrown away. 

To make an orange peel candle, remove the inner flesh of the peel and then cut it into thin strips. Next, melt some wax into a candle mold and dip the peel strips into it. Once coated, set them aside to dry. Once dry, you can use them like any other candle wick.

15. Use to Start a Fire

dry orange peels for homemade baking and cooking
If sufficiently dry, orange peels make a surprisingly efficient kindling stick. We love using orange peels rather than synthetic firestarters. You get the bonus of a tangy scent when the orange peels ignite. That’s much better than some synthetic kindling firestarters with unpleasant chemical odors!

Another crafty use for orange peels is to utilize them as kindling when starting a fire. If you’ve ever tried to start a fire with only wood, you know how difficult it can be. But by adding in some dried orange peels, you can make your backyard campfire much more straightforward. 

Place the peelings between two pieces of wood and light them on fire. The oils in the peel will help to get the fire going. Before long, you’ll have a roaring blaze going.

16. Clean the Garbage Disposal

Is your garbage disposal starting to smell? Cut an orange peel into small pieces and run it through the disposal while running cold water through it simultaneously. The essential oils in the peel will help freshen up your disposal while putting the leftover orange skin to good use.

17. Refresh the Fridge

Fridges can start smelling a bit off over time. Adding a few orange peels to your fridge helps give it a lovely, fresh, and clean scent.

18. Use as Mosquito Repellent

Did you know that orange peels can get used as a mosquito repellent? All you have to do is dry out the peels and then grind them into a powder. Add the powder to lotion or combine it with vodka to make your natural mosquito repellent. (Usually, when you mix vodka and oranges, you get a screwdriver. But if you use the orange peels instead of orange juice, you get homemade repellent!)

19. Repel Slugs

If you’re having trouble with slugs in your garden, try placing orange peels around the perimeter. The citrus smell can help keep them away.

20. Keep Stray Cats Away

green eyed cat wearing orange hat
One of our editors has an adorable cat who is always curious about what’s for dinner. And the cat isn’t shy when it comes time to eat! One of the only food groups that the cat despises – is citrus. Any fruits with a slight citrus scent repel the cat instantly. We’ve heard from other homesteaders that their cats also detest limes, oranges, lemon, and citrus scents – so we think we’re onto something here! (The cat in the photo was the rare exception. It looks too sleepy to move!)

Do stray cats keep coming into your yard? Place orange peels on ledges or window sills to keep them away. The potent smell will deter them from entering your property. 

21. Fight Ants

fire ants in action using teamwork
We’ve heard that orange peels can help keep ants at bay. But where did this ant-deterring rumor originate? Well – it turns out there’s at least some truth to it! We’ve read from several reliable sources (including the University of Florida Extension blog and Mississippi State Extension) that D-limonene, a popular citrus peel extract, is harmful to fire ants. We read from a third source that placing orange peels on a mound of fire ants may cause them to move. However, the peels probably will not kill them. Interesting. And it’s something to contemplate!

Are fire ants invading your kitchen? Place orange peels near entrances to fight them. You can also make a mixture of water and orange peels and spray it around problem areas.

22. Make a Bath Oil

essential bath oils with orange peels
Citrus bath oils are one of the comfiest ways to de-stress. You can use other aromas, too! We found an easy bath bomb recipe from home that gives other recommendations, tips, and ingredient ideas. They recommend some of our favorite essential bath oils, such as lavender, eucalyptus, or peppermint. Citrus essence is arguably our top favorite! You can also mix several and develop a unique blend.

Add a few drops of olive oil and the zest of one orange peel to your bathtub for a relaxing, moisturizing bath oil. 

23. Do Fun Crafts with Kids

Let your kids express their creativity by using orange peels as stamps! They can dip the peels in paint and then use them to stamp images onto paper. Or, they can string dried orange peels together to make bracelets or necklaces. There are all sorts of possibilities!

24. Feed the Birds

parus major bird visiting an orange peel feeder
Here’s a neat way to reuse your unwanted orange skins. Turn them into extra bird feeders! With winter and the cold weather coming, it feels nice to support our local backyard birds. We feel bad knowing natural food sources will get scarcer over the winter. So – the more feeders to help our garden visitors, the merrier! We also found a nifty citrus bird feeder tutorial from the Illinois Extension blog showing how to build a citrus feeder without fuss.

Birds love oranges, so why not give them the peelings? You can mix dried peelings with birdseed or hang fresh ones from trees for a tasty treat for our feathered friends.

25. Make a Christmas Ornament – or a Festive Firestarter

The holidays are the best times to let your creativity run wild! You could chop leftover citrus peels and mix them with other holiday-themed garden items like acorns, pinecones, or berries to make a potpourri for your Christmas tree. We also found a genius guide teaching how to make aromatic and festive firestarters using orange peels and cinnamon sticks. They are the perfect gift – and make the holiday fire ten times more enjoyable. (Maybe even 20 times more enjoyable!)

26. Compost Them

orange peel composting in garden
While researching orange peel composting, we stumbled upon a legendary experiment in orange peel fertilization that we highly recommend. Never doubt the power of orange peel fertilizer! Here’s why. In 1997, a Costa Rican fruit business used 12,000 tons of orange peels to fertilize a local forest. That’s over twenty-six million pounds of leftover orange peels! The orange peels had a remarkable effect on a badly degraded forest – which you can see in the article published on the Princeton Alumni Weekly website. Check out their photograph depicting half of the forest that got fertilized – and the other half which did not. (The orange peels speak for themselves!)

If you compost, you know that adding citrus peels is a great way to add some nitrogen to your compost pile (which is vital for promoting healthy plant growth). So if you have extra orange peels, don’t hesitate to chuck them into your compost bin!

27. Remove Water Marks

Use your leftover orange peels to polish the watermarks of your appliances, sinks, and faucets! Citrus is a powerful cleaner. You might be surprised by how well this hack works.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it, 27 ways to use leftover orange peels! Next time you snack on a delicious orange, whatever you do, don’t discard the peel. Put it to good use instead!

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