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Uses for Citrus Peels in Your Kitchen, Home & Garden

01. February 2018

You make some homemade lemonade; you chuck the peels. You eat an orange for a snack; you throw the peel in the compost. You add some lime to the coconut; the peel gets pitched. It’s a shame that up to 40% of the fruit is just wasted. But it doesn’t have to be! There are a plethora of uses for your citrus peelings.

How to Make a DIY Citrus Vinegar Cleaner with Orange Peels |


DIY Citrus Vinegar Cleaner

One of my personal favorites is using the grease smashing properties of citrus and combining it with the might of vinegar. Together they are a disinfecting powerhouse that is nearly unstoppable. And making it is crazy easy. Just fill a mason jar with your collected citrus peels. I use orange peels, but you can also add lemon peels. Once filled to capacity, pour in white vinegar to the top of the jar. Then put the lid on and let sit for a minimum of 2 weeks. Strain out the peels and combine the vinegar with water at a 50/50 ratio. If you want to get extra fancy, add some dried herbs to your spray bottle for an olfactory delight. Your kitchen and bathroom counters won’t know what hit ‘em! Please note, citrus may damage some surfaces. Do not use on granite, marble, stone or hardwood floors, or painted surfaces.

How to Make a DIY Citrus Vinegar Cleaner Spray with Orange Peels |

Our orange canning jar labels and pastel dots labels are nice options for labelling your concoctions!  


Citrus Deodorizers and Potpourris

Orange and lemon peels also make tremendous deodorizers. They have the natural ability of absorbing foul odors. Place some peels in the back of your fridge or in the base of your kitchen garbage can to keep things smelling fresh. Shred peels in your garbage disposal to release that great citrus smell in your kitchen. Make a refreshing potpourri by simmering peels in water with some cinnamon and cloves. Add cut up peels to stockings and hang in closest or cars. Your nose will thank you, especially when you replace synthetic fragrances with FREE and natural scents.

Lemon Peel Cleaners

Lemons are especially handy for removing hard water stains on faucets. Rub fresh lemon peels onto stainless steel faucets to remove unsightly white buildup. Repeat as needed and your faucets will shine bright! This will also work on copper, silverware, pots and pans.

Are you a coffee or tea junky who is also bad at cleaning stained mugs and pots? Lemon to the rescue! Add some salt to the outside of a lemon peel to rub away stains on mugs. Coffee tastes better from a clean pot, so don’t forget to clean that too. Add lemon peels and water to your pot, then turn on. As the pot heats, citric acid is released from the peels and melts the stains away. Coffee anyone?

Citrus Vinegar Pest & Cat Repellant

Another great household use for peels is as a pest deterrent. Citrus has an acidic oil in its peels called d-limonene. This substance is toxic to ants and will kill them if they come in contact with it. You can make a citrus-vinegar mixture similar to the cleaning formula above. Put some peels in a pot and cover with white vinegar. Heat the pot to almost boiling, then turn the heat off and let it sit for 2-12 hours. The longer you let it sit, the stronger the concentration. Strain the liquid into a spray bottle and have at those ant intruders!

You can also add citrus peels to flower beds and gardens to repel cats. I personally tried this with no luck. If you have tried everything else to repel cats, it's worth a try. Just cut orange peels up into one inch pieces. Scatter in your flower beds or anywhere you don't want cats. Add new peels once a week to refresh. No need to remove the old peels outside since they'll decompose. 

Another option is to make a citrus repellant spray for cats. Bring 2 cups of water and 1 cup of chopped citrus peels (orange, lemon, or limes) to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool, then strain the peels out and add to a spray bottle. If anyone has luck with any non-lethal cat repellant, I would LOVE to hear about it!! This solution is also supposed to work for dogs, but why on earth would you want to repel them? ;)

Add Citrus Peels to Food

Candied citrus peels are definitely the place to start. So delicious, once you make them you will accept no substitutes. This Candied Citrus Peel recipe would be great on baked goods or ice cream. And just imagine them dipped in dark chocolate. Mmmmmmm.

This citrus infused vinegar recipe is great for salads or cocktails. If you want a vinegar with a knockout color, try this Blood Orange Balsamic Vinegar recipe.

Stop buying expensive store-bought extracts! They are so easy and cost-effective to make yourself. In no time you can whip up some lemon or orange extract in your kitchen. Citrus extracts are perfect for holiday gifts or favors once packaged up in cute bottles or mason jars.

Make citrus ice cubes by infusing water with leftover peels. Add peels to a pot of hot water and steep until infused. Freeze orange, lemon, and limes cubes, or combine all flavors together. Lemon ice cubes are especially tasty in ice tea.

You can also use citrus zests in food like our Zesty Lime Curd recipe. Spread this delicious curd in a baked tart shell for a quick dessert. Top the tart with a ring of fresh raspberries or a twisted lime slice to impress.

Lime Curd Recipe |


Or try this vibrant Three Citrus & Vanilla Bean Marmalade recipe. This citrus marmalade would make a great holiday gift. Your kitchen will smell amazing as you zest your citrus. Use our free printable tags and labels to decorate your jars for gift-giving.

Three Citrus & Vanilla Bean Marmalade Recipe

Want more citrus canning recipes? See our Citrus Canning Recipes blog post for jam, jelly, marmalade & more! 

Citrus Canning Recipes |


Shop our Citrus Canning Label Collection to label all of your lemon, lime, and orange goodie jars.

Lemon & Lime Citrus Canning Labels


One of the easiest ways to enjoy your citrus peels is to dehydrate them and add them… to everything! Trail mix, oatmeal, cupcakes, pancakes, smoothies, salads, ice cream, chicken or fish… okay, you get it. Preparing your dehydrated peels is easy. Just slice them into bite-sized pieces and leave them out to dry. Easy-peasy! Or, if you want to speed the process up, place peels on a cookie sheet in a 200° oven and let them bake for a couple hours. You’ll know they are done when the edges start to curl up. And I guess I should mention, you want to use organic oranges if you are going to consume the peels. Don’t forget to wash them, too!

Grind Dried Citrus Peels in Spice Grinder |

I run dried citrus peels through my spice grinder to make a wonderful powder. The citrus powder is perfect for adding to dressings, marinades, smoothies, or baked goods. Store the citrus powder in a recycled spice jar and shake away!

Grind Dried Citrus Peels in Spice Grinder to Make Orange Powder |

Health & Beauty Benefits of Citrus Peels

Another fantastic use for dried peels is to make your own… wait for it… homemade Vitamin C powder! YASSSS!!! Citrus is high in Vitamin C, but the nutrients are concentrated in the peels. In fact, the peels have nearly twice the Vitamin C as the flesh. Put dehydrated peels in a spice grinder and you have fresh Vitamin C powder. This is better than anything you can buy at a store. That’s because your homemade version will contain live enzymes that the pharmacy varieties lack. Use as a natural supplement by adding to water, smoothies, or foods.
And that leads me to the other health benefits of citrus peels. Orange peels are nutrient rich and healthier than the flesh of the fruit. The peel is loaded with flavonoids, which are antioxidant compounds known for assisting in the prevention of chronic health conditions. The flavonoid hesperidin has been shown to benefit those suffering with heart disease. It significantly lowers diastolic blood pressure. And polymethoxylated flavones have been shown to lower cholesterol just as well as prescription drugs, without any possible side effects. Those polymethoxylated flavones are also suspected to be protective against the occurrence of cancers, though research is still in the early stages.

Lemon peels are fantastic for skin care. The citric acid in them is a bleaching agent, therefore, they act as a natural skin lightener. They may also enhance the softness and clarity of your skin by removing dead skin cells and stimulating new skin growth. To help with acne, wash and grate the skin of 5-8 lemons and add their juice into a bowl. Mix together, store in a bottle, and shake before using. Apply the mixture to your skin and massage in a circular motion once a day. Leave the solution on for about 5 minutes. You'll feel the tingle as it seeps into your pores. Rinse and dry your face.

Citrus Peels Crafts & Jewelry

Dried citrus peels look gorgeous formed into roses. It does take patience and a steady hand. Use a knife to strip the peel off in one long piece. Then roll the peel up into a rosette and pin in place with a toothpick until dried. The final citrus flowers are great in potpourri, decorations, or used in jewelry. Get extra crafty and make an orange peel bead necklace.


orange peel roses |

How to make orange peel roses for jewelry or potpourri |


Follow our Citrus Canning Pinterest Board for even more recipes!

Citrus Canning Pinterest Board by


DIY Citrus Vinegar Cleaner Spray using orange citrus peels |


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We LOVE preventing food waste! What ways have you repurposed leftover citrus peels? Let us know in the comments below.

Comments (9)

Lesley Stephenson on March 31, 2019

Great ideas!!!

jeff hoogendyk on April 09, 2020

thanks for the ideas

Valeria on May 24, 2020

I like it !

Stacie @ Counting Tomatoes on January 01, 2023

I have been buying your canning labels for years off of Etsy! I didn’t realize you had a blog; I cannot wait to try making my own citrus vinegar homemade cleaner recipe. Thanks for the idea!

Lesley Brown on January 06, 2023

Have made lemon powder,going to try the orange next.also love the idea of peel in my wardrobe…perhaps the shoe cupboard too!

Theresa W on January 15, 2023

Is the citrus cleaner safe for quartz countertops?

CanningCrafts on January 15, 2023

No, I don’t think it would be good to use citrus cleaners or bleach products on quartz at all. So please avoid using this citrus cleaner on that surface.
I believe you should use just dish soap & water for quartz with a possible degreaser if needed. Stain removals on quartz can include rubbing alcohol or glass cleaners. There may be other specialty cleaners that can be used on quartz.

Julie Parr on January 10, 2024

It is very interesting what all you can do with the orange peals … could you send a news letter
Thank you so mucj

CanningCrafts on January 10, 2024

Yes, there is so much you can do with the peels besides throwing them out! You can sign up for our newsletter where we share lots of helpful info including recipes & gardening tips.


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