Between oranges' undeniably delicious flavor and countless health benefits — an entire day's worth of vitamin C, anyone? — we're already getting a pretty sweet deal. (Pun 100% intended.) Expecting anything more from the citrusy superfoods would be unreasonable. But the generosity and usefulness of oranges knows no bounds, because even their waxy peels can be used for a whole host of life hacks. Here, we break down 10 of our favorite orange peel uses. Read on and never toss an orange peel with abandon again!
1. Get a fire started fast with dried orange peels.
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. Evaporate stress in a flash with an orange peel bath.
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. Orange peels freshen smelly shoes by the morning.
After wearing your heavy winter boots 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 that will leave your boots smelling sweet.
4. Polish wooden furniture with an orange peel.
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. Oils in the peel moisturize the wood, which results in a glossy shine.
5. Use orange peels to 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. Orange peels can protect a plant 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 with an orange peel face mask.
If winter’s 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. Orange peels help 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 keep the sugar soft and lump-free — without affecting the flavor. Replace the rind monthly.
9. Nix soap scum on glassware with orange peels.
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 citric acid in the peels cuts through soap scum, which ensures your glasses are sparkling by dinner.
10. Orange peels clean kitchen messes the all-natural way.
To get your countertops gleaming without using harsh chemicals, scrub them with an orange peel (white side facing down). The slightly abrasive peel will scour away grime and its natural oils will degrease surfaces, plus it will leave behind a fresh scent.
This story originally appeared in the February 26, 2018 issue of First for Women magazine.