10 Surprising Uses for Oranges

Updated: Dec. 15, 2023

This fruit does more than pack a punch of Vitamin C to your diet.

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Garbage disposal
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Getting rid of the smell of garbage

Like your grandma might have done before you, adding orange peels to your garbage disposal can help freshen its sent. Just drop in a few peels along with some ice cubes and turn your disposal on. When the garbage disposal has worked through the peels and ice, rinse through with water, and you’re all set. Here are some more vintage cleaning tips that work, too.

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Bright kitchen room with steel appliances and granite tops.

Deodorize your refrigerator

Orange peels won’t just eliminate the smell of trash but can clear up any lingering odors in your fridge. Merry Maids, a home cleaning service, suggests placing an orange peel filled with salt in your fridge to keep it smelling fresh. Cut the orange in half, scoop out the pulp, fill the rind with salt, and just tuck it away on the back of a shelf.

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Make a natural cleaner

You can make a natural cleaner for your home just using oranges and vinegar. Cut off as much of the white part of the rind as possible, says Nate Masterson, head of natural product development for Maple Holistics. Then put the peels in a jar of vinegar and let it sit for two weeks, shaking the container once a day. After two weeks is up, strain the liquid into another container. “This natural cleaner has an extremely long shelf-life and smells delicious,” Masterson says. “Plus it can safely and effectively kill germs.” It’s a great solution to add to your list of chemical-free ways to clean your home.

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Orange peels
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Freshen up your home

Make your home smell amazing with a DIY stovetop potpourri. Simply add slices of orange, a vanilla bean and a few leaves of fresh mint to a pot of water and let it boil. A pleasant creamsicle-like smell will fill your house in no time. Get some more fragrance ideas here.

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Loose leaf tea with dried oranges
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Make sachets

Just like boiling an orange peel can fill your home with great scents, you can dry the peels out and make them last even longer as an air freshener. “The peel is the most fragrant part of the orange, so why not put it to good use in your house,” says nutritionist Lisa Richards, creator of the Candida diet. She suggests drying out orange peels with a dehydrator or by baking them at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. Then grind the peels up and put them in a sachet that can be placed anywhere around your home. Try adding cinnamon stick or clove essential oil for a more interesting smell.

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Oranges and peel

Improve your skin

Rubbing the peels of oranges on your skin and leaving them there for a few minutes will leave your skin sticky, but totally fresh. The peel actually has more vitamin C than the orange itself, according to Dr. Catherine Chang, MD of Cassileth Plastic Surgery. “Although citrus fruits are a rich natural source of vitamin C, which can free your body of free radicals, not many people realize that the common orange can be really good for exfoliating and detoxifying skin,” Chang says. “This is because oranges are amongst the least acidic citrus fruits, although they still contain vitamins C and E as well as antioxidants and zinc which can help smoothen skin. So if you have acne-prone or oily skin, it’s perfect for you.” If that works, you can also try coconut oil in your beauty routine.

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Scrub hands. Jar of cosmetic preparation Spa & Wellness
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Exfoliate your skin

Dip a cut orange in coarse, raw sugar and gently scrub your skin with it to exfoliate. The coarse sugar removes the dead skin and oils and juices from the orange soften the skin. You can try this on your face, hands and feet. You can also use that sugar for a homemade remedy for your chapped lips.

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Young woman cleaning stove in her kitchen; Shutterstock ID 247066327; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): Taste of Home
Sergey Ryzhov/Shutterstock

Clean up grime

Squeeze orange peels over “sticky” spots caused by spills or the residue from stickers. The natural oils in the rind are a great cleaner, the oils released from the peel will help to loosen the grime.

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Mixed Greens with Orange-Ginger Vinaigrette
Taste of Home

Spice up your salads

Add orange to a salad for a citrus kick or make an orange-based salad using this recipe. Here’s how to pick the juiciest oranges for your recipes.

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Aunt Frances Lemonade
Taste of Home

Make lemonade

It might be surprising, but oranges really do make the best lemonade. Whip up a large pitcher of this orange lemonade recipe and see for yourself! Be sure to take a look at these other orange recipes, too.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest