Next time you peel open an orange, instead of tossing the peel in the trash, you might want to hold onto it. Those peels can really come in handy. Turns out, you can use an orange peel for a variety of household tasks, to brighten and beautify your skin, eliminate odor and so much more! Read on for 20 genius uses for orange peels.
1. Get a fire started fast
You love curling up next to the fire on cold winter nights — if only it didn’t take so long to get the flames going. Next time, try this: Let the peels from a few oranges dry out for several hours, toss them into the fireplace, and carefully light them. The oils in citrus peels are flammable, and they’ll catch faster than a newspaper. You’ll be enjoying your fire in no time.
2. Uses for orange peels: ease stress in a flash
Soaking in a steamy bath is your favorite way to unwind at the end of a long day. To make your bath even more relaxing, tear up the peels from an orange or two and toss them into the bathwater. The scent of citrus triggers the release of calming brain chemicals, which lead to instant relaxation.
3. Freshen up smelly shoes
After wearing your favorite tennis shoes all day to run errands, they smell a bit less than fresh. To eliminate the odor overnight, set a few pieces of orange peel (white side facing down) inside the shoes and let sit until morning.
“The peel will absorb odor and moisture like a sponge, plus release a pleasant citrusy aroma,” Noell Jett, mom of 5, author of Create Your Dream Home on a Budget and the force behind @jettsetfarmhouse, explains. “The essential oils in the peel gives off a fresh citrus smell plus the oil and the citric acid are antibacterial so they will fight the bacteria that cause the odor.”
4. Uses for orange peels: polish wooden furniture
You want to give your table a quick shine before guests arrive, but you’re all out of furniture polish. To the rescue: an orange peel. Simply rub the white side of the peel on the table and wipe off with a clean cloth. “Not only does the natural oil in the orange peel moisturize the wood, the antibacterial properties leave it sanitary as well,” Jett says.
5. Whiten teeth for pennies
No need to splurge on pricey whitening kits to brighten your smile. Instead, rub the white part of an orange peel on your teeth for 15 seconds. The peel contains a compound that lifts surface stains from teeth without damaging the enamel. Repeat as often as desired.
6. Uses for orange peels: protect plants from cats
Keep your cat from digging in your favorite potted greenery by sprinkling a few orange peels on top of the soil once a week. The scent of citrus is too intense for a cat’s sense of smell, so your kitten will stay clear.
7. Uncover radiant, glowing skin
If dry weather has left your skin looking dull, try this DIY face mask: Grate the peel of an orange and mix it with a bit of the fruit’s juice and 1⁄4 cup of canola oil. Rub the mixture on your face and let sit for one minute; rinse. The bits of orange peel gently scrub away dead skin, and the oil adds moisture. The result: a healthy glow.
8. Uses for orange peels: keep brown sugar clump-free
No matter how well you seal the box of brown sugar in your pantry, it always ends up hardening into one big clump that makes it difficult to work with. To prevent this from happening, try placing a slice of orange peel inside the bag of sugar. Natural oils in the peel slowly release moisture, which keeps the sugar soft and lump-free — without affecting the flavor. Replace the rind monthly.
9. Nix soap scum on glassware
While setting the table for a dinner party, you discover that your wine glasses are looking cloudy. The save: Fill the sink with warm water and a few orange peels. Let glasses soak for five minutes, then rinse with warm water.
“The peels of oranges contain citric acid that cuts through soap scum and mineral deposits, leaving your glasses sparkling,” Jett says.
10. Uses for orange peels: make a fruit-fly trap
Even though the apples in your fruit bowl are nowhere near expiration, you often find little flies buzzing around your kitchen. Catch the pests once and for all by crafting a trap. First, gather a large yogurt container, an orange peel, a hammer and a nail. Using the nail and hammer, carefully poke holes in the lid of the yogurt container. Place the orange peel inside, snap on the lid and leave it where the flies tend to gather. The sweet smell of the orange will attract the fruit flies, leading them to crawl inside — but they won’t be able to fly back out through the tiny holes. Dispose of the trap after a day or when most of the flies have been caught.
11. Clean kitchen messes the all-natural way
Sidestep the headaches that can come from using harsh cleaning products with this all-natural — and wonderfully effective — cleaner: In a spray bottle, combine the peel from one orange and 1½ cups of white vinegar. Keep tightly closed for 2 weeks, then add 1 cup of water to the spray bottle. The orange peel’s citric acid will break down grease while the vinegar disinfects to get your home sparkling. (Click through for more uses for white vinegar.)
12. Uses for orange peels: lift ink stains from skin
Thanks to an exploded pen, your hands are now covered in ink — and soap and water aren’t doing the trick. To the rescue: orange peels! Rub the white side onto the discolored areas and watch the stains disappear. The natural oils in the peel will attract the oils in the ink, weakening the pigment’s bond with the skin for easy removal.
13. Buff away scuffs on leather shoes
Last year’s sling-backs are still in great condition, except for a few scuffs on the toes. The fix: Lightly rub the spots with the white side of a orange peel, then wipe with a clean cloth. The peel will be absorbed into the leather and diminish the marks, leaving your shoes looking brand-new.
14. Uses for orange peels: remove a splinter painlessly
While sweeping the deck, you get a splinter in your finger. Make removal of the tiny wood sliver a cinch with this trick: Tape a piece of an orange peel, white side down, over the wound and leave it on for 30 minutes. The enzymes in the peel will seep into the skin and encourage the splinter to move toward the surface for easy plucking. The result: a tear-free extraction.
15. Perk up dull, dreary houseplants
If your potted ferns, cacti, and spider plants look like they need a little pick-me-up, give them a quick rubdown with the white side of an orange peel. The skin’s rough texture will gently buff away dust, while its natural oils will add a nice polished sheen.
16. Uses for orange peels: soothe a bug bite
Next time you’re bitten by a mosquito, reach for an orange! Simply rub the inside of an orange peel against the inflamed area. The peels are full of polysaccharides, which seep into skin cells to halt swelling and inflammation within minutes.
17. Grill a juicier piece of chicken
If your chicken tends to come out a little dry, just place an orange peel on top of each breast while cooking. “The peel will create a barrier between the heat source and the bird, helping the meat retain its natural juices,” explains First for Woman Food Director, Julie Miltenberger.
18. Uses for orange peels: add flavor to olive oil
A quick upgrade for bland olive oil: Chop three orange peels and puree in a food processor with 1 cup of olive oil. Let sit for 1 hour, then strain. Voilà — a delicious citrus-flavored oil that’s perfect for dipping or adding to recipes!
19. Steam away microwave stains
Don’t stress over trying to scrub dried sauce splotches off your microwave — you can save yourself the elbow grease by adding the rinds from four oranges to a microwave-safe bowl, covering it with water and heating it on high for 5 minutes. Steam from the water will loosen the dried-on mess, and the peels’ citric acid will dissolve it, so you can wipe splatters away with one swipe. (This hack works with lemons, too.)
See this trick in action here!
20. Uses for orange peels: freshen musty closets
When you reached into your guest closet for linens, you got a whiff of a musty odor. To nix the smell, place the rinds from an orange inside the foot of an old pair of pantyhose, then tie the end and set the sachet on a shelf. The pith will absorb and neutralize odors while the fruit’s oils give off a fresh fragrance.
For more clever life hacks, keep reading!