12 Genius Ways to Use Lemon (and Other Citrus) Peels Around the House

Don't toss those peels! Our associate digital editor shows you how lemon peels, orange rinds and all kinds of citrus are great for tidying up your home (and even can make for some tasty treats!).

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Photo: Unsplash/ Daniel Kim

When it comes to citrus fruits, I’m all in. Lemon tarts, lemon meringue pies—not to mention anything lime!—are some of my favorite treats. After we’re done baking, though we’re left with a lot of lemon peels and orange rinds. Instead of tossing these extras, though, I learned a few tricks to make use of these scraps! Besides making for great treats, citrus fruits can help you freshen up your home. Learn how you can repurpose these peels and make the most of your citrus.

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Eco-friendly natural cleaners; lemon
Photo: Shutterstock/Ahanov Michael

Make an all-purpose cleaner.

We all know about the cleaning power of vinegar (if you don’t, check this out!). Together with citrus, it makes a mighty fine everyday cleaning solution. To make, pop lemon peels into a glass container (a mason jar works great here) and fill with vinegar. Allow this to sit for two weeks—a long time, but so worth it! Strain and pour into a spray bottle and use just like any all-purpose cleaner. It’s so inexpensive and 100% natural.

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Making Cranberry Sauce with Oranges, Star Anise, and Rosemary
Photo: Shutterstock / Anna Hoychuk

Freshen up your home.

Who doesn’t love the smell of citrus? Be it lemon, orange or lime, those scents make me think clean and fresh. To give my home that aroma naturally, I pop leftover citrus peels (and sometimes a few extras, like cinnamon or herbs) in a pot and let those scents fill my home for a cozy day in.

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Waste disposal plug hole in a kitchen sink
Photo: Shutterstock/ Snap Happy

Clean up the garbage disposal.

Those of us with garbage disposals know that sometimes they can leave our sinks a little stinky. To combat any unpleasant smells, simply run a few citrus peels through the disposal to clear out any old bits and have the sink smelling fresh.

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Lemon and its juice use for cleaning
Photo: Shutterstock/Kittibowornphatnon

Make your coffee pot look like new.

This is a trick I learned as a waitress years ago: Add lemon peel (lemon wedges work too), ice and coarse salt to coffee pots and swirl it around. This will help remove any difficult water spots and coffee stains.

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Cat dropped houseplant; plants; cats; lemons
Photo: Shutterstock/Sergey Prikhod'ko

Keep your cats away from your plants.

If I’ve learned anything after living with cats, it’s that no plant is safe. Keep your tabbies away from your houseplants by popping a few citrus peels in the pots. Citrus isn’t dangerous to cats, but they can’t stand the smell.

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Candied Orange Zest
Photo: Shutterstock/ffolas

Candy some orange peel.

After you peel that orange, don’t toss the rind! Instead make this sugary treat. Candied orange peels (and other sugared citrus fruits) are tasty on their own, but also make for beautiful garnishes or a great addition to homemade fruitcakes.

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Composition with whole raw turkey and some products on slate plate
Photo: Shutterstock / Africa Studio

Add flavor to your next Sunday dinner.

If you’re roasting a chicken or turkey for dinner, use leftover lemon and orange peels to stuff the bird. The rinds will give these birds extra flavor and some moisture, too.

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Freshly sliced sun drenched lemons, also available in oranges and limes
Photo: Shutterstock/Hannamariah

Freeze the peels.

So many good recipes call for lime or lemon zest. Next time you peel one of these fruits, toss the peel into a zip-top bag and stash in the freezer. You can defrost them next time you need a little zest.

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Refreshing drink, grapefruit and rosemary cocktail; infused vodka
Photo: Shutterstock/Sea Wave

Infuse vodka for a new twist on cocktails.

Make your own custom infused vodka using grapefruit, lime, lemon or orange peels (or even a combination of a few!). Simply combine equal parts vodka and citrus rinds in a glass container and allow to sit for three to five days, giving the jar a gentle shake each day. Then strain out the peels and enjoy your custom tipple! I like the lemon vodka in a good Bloody Mary.

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Orange marmalade
Photo: Taste of Home

Make a marmalade.

These sweet preserves make use of the fruit and the rind. This recipe with grapefruit and lemon is especially good.

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Multiple marshmallows extended over a camp fire to roast
Photo: Shutterstock/Phil McDonald

Make a fire starter.

Dry out citrus peels in the oven until crisp and golden. Once dry, they make great fire starters for you next camping trip or backyard bonfire (and they smell amazing to boot!).

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Composition with fresh mint on light wooden table
Shutterstock / Africa Studio

Create your own pest repellant.

Keep ants and other unwanted bugs out of your garden with the power of citrus. Simply boil peels in hot water for several minutes, let cool and add a little liquid dish soap. Pour this into a spray bottle and mist around the base of your affected plants to repel pests.

Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is a former Taste of Home editor and passionate baker. During her tenure, she poured her love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. Lisa also dedicated her career here to finding and testing the best ingredients, kitchen gear and home products for our Test Kitchen-Preferred program. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.