One of the ways that my own family has been working toward having a zero waste home is by doing what is obvious to me; finding new ways to use old items. It just stands to reason that the more we can reuse, the less waste we’re putting out. That waste includes wasted money since every time we reuse something it allows us to skip buying something. We eat a lot of oranges in our house so finding new ways to use orange peels has become a new game for us.
Finding uses for orange peels seemed hard at first. I mean really, it’s an orange peel. Fortunately , it wasn’t nearly as difficult as we thought it might be. In fact, it turns out there are far more ways to use orange peels than I had initially suspected. In fact, we’ve found so many that we have all been surprised! They have definitely helped us on our way to a zero waste home this year!
51 Ways to Use Orange Peels in a Zero Waste Home
Since my doctor had me start a gluten free diet, we have been eating a lot of fresh food; oranges included. I actually stopped buying cheap food to eat healthy food so we have a whole lot of fruits and veggies these days. In other words, we’re finding a whole lot of new uses for a whole lot of things. These 51 ways to use orange peels are just the start.
I do want to point out that when I speak of ways to use leftover orange peels, I am talking about the peel itself. When you’re preparing your orange peels to be used, you’ll want to remove as much of the pith as possible. The pith is the bitter white part between the peel itself and the oranges flesh. A little won’t harm anything but getting as much pith gone as possible is best.
Uses for Leftover Orange Peels in the Kitchen
The kitchen is a fantastic place to find ways to use orange peels. There are so many different ways that I wouldn’t be able to list them all if I tried. The uses for leftover orange peels in the kitchen are a few of my favorites.
Make Candied Orange Peels
Candied orange peels are a treat and one of my favorite ways to use orange peels! If you’ve never made them, Brown Eyed Baker has a great recipe to help you get started.
Make Homemade Orange Marmalade
If you’ve never had homemade orange marmalade on a warm piece of toast, you’re missing out. Use your leftover orange peels to make this delicious treat.
Add orange zest to recipes
Grab a zesting tool and zest your leftover orange peels. The zest is a great addition to some baked goods, to salads and more.
Use orange peels to keep brown sugar soft
Brown sugar can become hard as a brick if exposed to too much air. Instead of wasting a piece of bread, simply toss a leftover orange peel or two in an airtight food storage container. The peel will absorb the air and your brown sugar will stay soft.
Add leftover orange peels to your tea
When you make your next cup of tea, toss a leftover orange peel in it. It will help give your tea a subtle citrus flavor. If you want a stronger citrus flavor, use an extra peel or two.
Make citrus butter with leftover orange peels
Citrus butter is great for pan searing chicken and other places where you want a hint of citrus with a buttery background. Simply zest leftover orange peels and whip them into softened butter.
Make orange infused olive oil with orange peels
Not only can you make citrus butter with orange peels, but you can make infused olive oil (or any cooking oil). Simply add a handful of orange peels to a bottle with a lid and fill with oil. Allow it to sit 2-3 weeks minimum for the citrus flavor to infuse the oil.
Make orange infused ice cubes
There are a lot of drink recipes that taste amazing with just a hint of orange. A great way to do this is to use leftover orange peels to make orange infused ice cubes. Simply zest your leftover peels, fill an ice cube tray and sprinkle a bit of zest into each cube.
Make dried orange zest to use for later
If you have more leftover orange peels than you can manage, consider making dried orange zest for later use. To do so, simple use a zesting tool to zest the orange peel. Lay the zest out on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper. Allow it to air dry fully and store in an air tight food storage container. If you wish to have a powdery zest, run the dried zest through a coffee grinder or spice grinder.
Make chocolate covered orange peels
In addition to the regular candied orange peels I mentioned above, you can also make chocolate covered orange peels. They’re so good and super easy to make! Taste of Home has a great recipe to get you started.
Make an orange peel chicken from leftover orange peels
Tastes Better from Scratch has an absolutely amazing recipe that uses leftover orange peels. Try it and you’ll love it as much as we do!
Use leftover orange peels to make an orange cake
There are so many different orange cake recipes that use leftover orange peels in some way. One of my favorites is this Orange Creamsicle Layer Cake from Fresh April Flours.
Use leftover orange peels to make orange infused honey
I love raw honey but I love orange honey even more! To make an orange infused honey, add orange peels to a jar of raw honey and let it sit for several weeks. The flavors will combine over time. When you’re done letting it steep, remove the peels and store it in a clean, dry jar.
Make a Chicken or Fish Marinade with orange peels
Chicken and fish are delicious when marinaded in an orange marinade. To make an easy orange marinade, add ground orange peel to olive oil with thyme, rosemary and garlic for chicken. For fish, use ground orange peel, lemon, garlic and dill if you like it. For a marinade, you’ll want to use a spice grinder on your orange peel so it’s a fine texture.
Use leftover orange peels to make flavored salt
Grind leftover orange peel into a fine ground and mix it with thyme, rosemary and basil. Then, combine the herb mixture with your favorite salt. The combo makes a great flavored salt product and is perfect for gift giving! You can even buy special spice bottles to use if you’re giving it as a gift.
Ways to Use Orange Peels to Clean
Did you know you can use leftover orange peels to clean your home? You can and they do a fantastic job. Orange – like lemon – is antiseptic, antibacterial and antiviral. This makes cleaning your home as a way to use orange peels the perfect idea.
Make Homemade Orange All Purpose Cleaner
We clean our home with natural cleaning products and one of my favorite uses for orange peels is to make THIS homemade orange all purpose cleaner. It disinfects, cleans and gets rid of grease all in one.
Use leftover oranges as a scrubbing sponge
For those messes that need scrubbing, but you may not want to destroy a rag or sponge, use a leftover orange peel! They’re disposable and you’ll get an extra use out of it before composting or throwing it away. Just remember to never compost anything with harsh chemical cleaners on it.
Polish wood furniture with orange peels
Orange peels make a fantastic homemade furniture polish. The oils in the peels nourish the wood back to their original, beautiful state. Even if you don’t want to take the time to make the polish, simply rubbing the peel on the wood will also transfer some of the oil to your wood and help polish it.
Polish stainless with orange peels
Just like polishing your wood furniture, orange peels are great for keeping stainless appliances shining!
Deodorize your garbage disposal with orange peels
Stinky garbage disposal? Throw some orange peels down them and run it like normal. They will help to freshen it.
Deodorize diaper pails with orange peels
Diaper pails can get pretty ripe quickly. To keep it smelling fresh, place a few orange peels under the bag and use like normal.
Deodorize your trash can with orange peels
Using the same idea as deodorizing a diaper pail with orange peels, add a few in the bottom of your trash can then add the bag. They should help keep your trash can smelling far better than what it normally does.
Freshen smelly shoes with orange peels
One of my kids has horrible foot odor. Thankfully, one of the best ways to beat food odor that I’ve found has been orange peels! Trust me, it’s become one of my favorite ways to use orange peels. To use them to freshen shoes, wrap them in a coffee filter and secure with a rubber band. Poke a few holes in the coffee filter to allow the scent to escape and place one bundle inside each shoe. The coffee filter will absorb any orange oil that may seep off the peels so you don’t have it all over the inside of your shoes.
Keep sports bags smelling great with orange peels
Emma plays softball and let me tell you; baby Jesus take the wheel because her softball gear is rank some days! Luckily, a handful of orange peels in a coffee filter – just like with shoes – takes care of her gear bag keeping it smelling citrus fresh.
Use orange peels to freshen your fridge
As much as we would like to deny it, we’ve all had something spoil in the fridge and usually those spoiled things don’t smell too great. Orange peels can help with that smell. Take a half orange peel and fill it with salt then sit it in your fridge for a day or two. The salt will help absorb the bad smells while the orange freshens the air inside.
Uses for Orange Peels in the Bath
Orange peels are also amazing in the bathroom. There are benefits to your skin and even your actual bath water!
Make a Homemade Orange Sugar Scrub
Homemade sugar scrubs are amazing on your skin. This homemade orange sugar scrub is easy to make and the perfect zero waste beauty solution.
Make homemade orange oil for your bath from orange peels
Take a few orange peels and steep them in a closed container for 5-7 days to make a homemade orange oil. Add a few drops to your bath water for a mood boosting, skin brightening bath soak.
Strengthen Your Hair with leftover orange peels
If your hair needs a nourishing boost, orange peels can help. Grind enough orange peels to cover your hair then apply the paste directly to your hair. Allow it to sit for just a few minutes then shampoo clean.
Brighten and nourish your skin with orange peels
Why pay for an expensive bottle of vitamin c serum when you have the same basic thing in your kitchen? Follow the steps for nourishing your hair with orange peels to nourish your skin as well!
Freshen bad breath by chewing orange peels
You wouldn’t necessarily think of using orange peels to treat bad breath, but they can! Because they’re anti-bacterial, chewing on orange peels the way you chew gum can help kill bacteria that causes stinky breath.
Health Benefits of Orange Peel
Orange peel has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years for a reason. As I said earlier, it’s anti-septic, anti-bacterial and so on. In addition, it’s packed with other qualities to help boost your health as well.
Help fight high blood pressure with orange peel
Oranges and orange peel contain Hesperidin. This flavanoid has been shown to help regulate blood pressure.
Help fight high cholesterol with orange peel
The Hesperidin in oranges and orange peels has also been shown to help lower bad cholesterol.
Relieve anxiety with orange peels
Citrus oils – especially lemon and orange oils – are great for boosting moods and providing a calming effect. To use orange peels to relieve anxiety, simply rub the peels on your temples to release the oils.
Lift a depressed mood with orange peels
In addition to relieving anxiety, orange peels can help relieve depression as well. Again, simply rub the peels on your temples to release their oil.
Improve heart health with orange peels
Orange peels have been shown to contain a compound called nobiletin. Nobiletin has been shown to help lower a persons risk of heart disease.
Treat a hangover with orange peels
Hungover? Use orange peels to help! To treat a hangover with orange peels, steep a few peels in boiling water to make an orange tea. Sip the tea to provide relief.
Ways to Use Orange Peels in Your Garden
Head outside to the garden with your orange peels because they’re great here too!
Add Orange Peels to your compost pile
While you shouldn’t add too many citrus peels to your compost pile, orange peels are one of the things you can compost. The peels are rich in nitrogen which is good for your compost. Add them, but keep it to a minimum.
Repel Mosquitoes with orange peels
Certain flying insects do not like the smell of citrus fruits; especially oranges. If you’re going to be outdoors this summer, spread orange peels around to help keep mosquitoes away. You can also check out my DIY Citronella Candles to help repel them as well.
Use orange peels to repel slugs
Slugs creep me out so it’s a good thing I have an abundance of orange peels! To use orange peels to repel slugs in your garden, simply grind them coarsely and spread them on top of your soil.
Use orange peels to keep ants away
I’ve never tried this one, but apparently ants don’t like the smell of oranges either. To repel them using orange peels, place a few near where you’re having an ant problem. I wonder if this would have worked when we found fire ants in our compost?
Repel stray cats with orange peels
Have you ever held an orange up to your cat? They will turn their head and walk away. They don’t like the strong citrus scent. If you’re having an issue with stray cats in your garden, place orange peels around.
Uses for Leftover Orange Peels in Your Home
There are some uses for orange peels that don’t necessarily fit into any other category. These ways to use orange peels are for camping, emergency prep (Six Dollar Family) and more.
Make Orange Peel Fire Starters
If you go camping or have a fire at home in the fireplace, make orange peel fire starters. Not only do they burn well, but they’ll also leave your fire smelling amazing! Cut strips of orange peels, allow them to dry and use them to start your next fire.
Make Orange Peel Candles
Orange peels make amazing candles, especially in an emergency. Making these orange peel candles is super easy too!
Make Homemade Potpourri
Another of my favorite ways to use orange peels is to make my home smell amazing with a homemade potpourri. Take your orange peels and add them to a pot of boiling water. Soon your home will smell delicious. If you have lemon or lime peels, you can also add them. A cinnamon stick or two also is a fantastic addition.
Repel roaches with orange peels
Like ants, roaches do not like orange peels. If you happen to have this particular issue, spreading orange peels where you see them most often or where they are entering your home at should help repel them.
Make an orange peel bird feeder
I love crafts that use supplies that would otherwise be thrown away! To make an orange peel bird feeder, take the peel from half an orange (you want it still rounded) and make sure the fruit has been removed. Poke three evenly spaced holes near the top cut end. Attach a piece of string to each hole and use them to tie your orange half to a tree. Fill it with bird seed and sit back and wait!
Make Christmas ornaments from orange peels
For an easy Christmas craft, use orange peels to make Christmas ornaments! Cut your peels large enough to fit a Christmas cookie cutter. Then, using the cookie cutter, cut different Christmas shapes. Use a straw to poke a small hole in the top of each shape. Set the shapes on a cookie sheet somewhere where they won’t be disturbed and all them to dry fully. Once they’re dry, add a string and hang!
Make bath toys from orange peels
You can even make toy boats from orange peels! Yes, they are only good for one use. Simply quarter an orange and remove the fruit. The quartered peels make the perfect boat shape. Plus, your kiddos will benefits from the orange peel in their bathwater.
Make an Orange Peel Topiary Tree
I never thought to make a topiary tree from orange peels, but Save On Crafts has a great tutorial for one I can’t wait to make! It’s the perfect fall decoration!
Repel Moths with Orange Peels
To repel moths with orange peels, make an orange peel pomander. Not only will you get the great citrus scent, but adding cloves helps to keep those pesky moths away. To make yours, poke several holes into an orange then fill the holes with whole cloves. Pop the oranges in the oven on low or warm for at least an hour or until they’re hard. Allow them to cool then decorate with string or ribbon to create a way to hang them if desired. Place them where you need a scent boost from the orange peel or in your closet, drawers or any place you need to repel moths.