The uses for lemon peels are endless and, best of all, they’re a natural, inexpensive way to keep your home and body healthy.
It’s ironic that some of the most beneficial nutrients are found in the parts of food we tend to throw out — especially lemon peels. The peels are where all of the lemon oil is concentrated, and citrus peels have been shown to have more antioxidant vitamins and minerals, and may even have more health benefits than lemons themselves (1).
Lemon peels also have antibacterial and antifungal properties, which make them an inexpensive way to improve your health and cleanse your home. The peels also double as a multi-purpose DIY natural beauty remedy for skin, hair, and nails.
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So, next time you’re about to toss your lemon’s remains in the compost (although, they do make a pleasant compost deodorizer), here are 30 genius ways to use those peels.
30 Genius Ways to Use Lemon Peels
1. Counter Disinfectant
Lemon peels have strong antimicrobial properties thanks to the flavanones they contain which aren’t found in many other plant foods. Lemon peels have even been shown to protect against certain bacteria, such as salmonella, which makes them an ideal kitchen cleaning ingredient to have on hand (2).
To make a countertop disinfectant using lemon peels:
Fill half of a mason jar with lemon peels, and cover with white vinegar or apple cider vinegar (filling to the top). Place the lid on the mason jar and let it sit for 2 weeks in a cool, dry place.
Strain your lemon peel and vinegar infusion into a glass spray bottle. Now you have an all-purpose kitchen cleaner!
2. Natural Bug Repellent
Fact: House pests like cockroaches, mosquitos and ants, hate citrus. Lemon peels are the perfect way to keep bugs away without spraying toxic chemicals in your house.
To make a natural bug repellent:
Simply take a glass mason jar and soak 1 cup of lemon peels in water for 10-14 days. Make sure the jar is tightly sealed.
Strain your lemon water infusion into a spray bottle, and spray in corners and other areas of your house (including your garden), where pests like to hang out. As an added bonus, your house will smell nice and fresh too.
3. Garbage Disposal Cleaner
The refreshing scent of lemon peels can clean your garbage disposal and kill off harmful bacteria in the process. Simply throw a handful of lemon peels down your disposal to give it a good clean. You can also throw lemon peels at the bottom of your garbage cans to help eliminate unpleasant odors.
4. Spot Treatment to Fade Dark Spots and Marks on The Skin
The acidity of lemon acts as a bleaching agent to help fade dark spots and marks on your skin. The vitamin C in lemon peels also helps stimulate collagen production, while lemon oil has astringent properties to help fade scars (3).
To Make Lemon Spot Treatment:
Apply a small amount of the lemon peel to the affected areas before bedtime, and rinse off in the morning. Note: Be sure to avoid the sun after applying lemon to your skin. Lemon juice and other citruses can make your skin hypersensitive to UV rays and cause burns. Also, be sure to avoid getting lemon juice or lemon peel anywhere near open wounds. If you haven’t used lemon juice on your skin before, make sure to test it on a small area first.
5. Citrus Diffuser
Instantly fill your home with the invigorating scent of lemon peels by simmering 1 cup of lemon peels on the stove in hot water for a few hours. The strong, uplifting scent of citrus can also help energize you on days when your energy, and mood, is low.
6. Shine Stainless Steel Pots and Silverware
Make your stainless steel household items shine with lemon peels by using them to scrub away grime. Simply polish, rinse, and you’re all set. Lemon peels also restore the shine on copper and chrome.
7. Citrus Vinegar Foot Soak
The antibacterial properties of lemon peels, combined with their refreshing scent, make the perfect DIY foot soak to remove foot odors. Lemon peels also contain alpha-hydroxy acids which help gently exfoliate the skin, while the addition of vinegar helps prevent foot infections and can help soften the bottom of your feet.
To make a lemon foot soak:
Boil 1 handful of lemon peels for 20 minutes and allow to completely cool. Strain the lemon peels and add ½ cup of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Soak feet for 20-30 minutes, then dry and moisturize.
8. Lemon Twist
Use your lemon peels to add a lemon twist to your water, cocktails and mocktails. Be sure to use organic lemon peels, and wash them before using for food and drink recipes to avoid toxic pesticide residue.
9. Skin Toner
As mentioned above, lemon peels contain alpha hydroxy acids which gently exfoliate the skin. You can apply lemon peels to your face as an all-over skin toner. Lemon peels can be gently rubbed on your face after cleansing. Leave on overnight and rinse in the morning (again, be careful not to go out into the sun or apply to open wounds).
10. Lemon Vinaigrette
Make a tangy Paleo salad dressing using only 3 ingredients: the zest from the peels of one lemon, the juice of ½ lemon and 3 T of extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil. Blend on high for 20 seconds, and pour over a bowl of your favourite leafy greens and veggies.
11. Potpourri to Keep Your Living Spaces Fresh
Citrus peels make a perfect homemade potpourri, especially when combined with spices like cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and essential oils. Here’s a super simple Citrus Peel Potpourri recipe for keeping all areas of your home, office, and even your car, smelling fresh and clean.
12. Vitamin C Ice Cubes
If you’re going to add ice cubes to your drinks, why not infuse your ice cubes with vitamins and minerals as well? Simply add an organic lemon peel, or grated lemon zest to your ice cubes before freezing them (and now, you’ll always have a lemon twist on hand).
13. DIY Hair Lightener
Do you want to lighten your hair without using bleach? Lemon peels can help.
As a bleaching agent, lemon juice and lemon oil, can help lighten your hair and lift darker color when it’s exposed to the sun. All you need to do is boil 1-2 cups of lemon peels (depending on the length of your hair) and allow to simmer for an hour. Strain and combine with 1 tablespoon of melted coconut oil to prevent your hair from drying out.
Apply the lemon peel water to your hair and leave on for an hour. Feel free to add ¼ cup of lemon juice to the mixture for extra strength.
Sit in the sun for an hour to allow the lemon to work it’s magic. Rinse and follow with shampoo and conditioner. (And don’t forget to apply sunscreen while you’re in the sunlight). Note: If you haven’t tried this before, make sure to test this method on a small strand of hair first.
14. Prevent Fruit From Browning
Lemon prevents oxygen from reaching fruit, which causes browning. Applying lemon peel to fruit such as apples, pears, bananas, and avocados can help preserve them. Simply rub the inside of a lemon peel on your fruit, and feel free to also add a squeeze of lemon juice.
15. Keep (Coconut) Sugar From Hardening
Lemon peels are known to prevent brown sugar from hardening. Since processed sugar isn’t recommended on the Paleo diet, you can use lemon peels to keep coconut sugar from clumping, which is one of the natural, Paleo-approved sweeteners recommended in smaller amounts.
16. Cutting Board Disinfectant
Since lemon peels have been shown to kill the bacteria found in animal products and vegetables, such as salmonella, you can sanitize your cutting boards with lemon peels or a lemon peel spray after washing.
17. Lemon Peel Tea (Especially When You’re Sick)
Give your immune system a helping hand by drinking lemon peel tea. Since lemon peels contain more nutrients than the juice and flesh of lemon, boiling organic lemon peels may be a more effective natural cold remedy than hot water with lemon juice. Feel free to jazz up your lemon tea with other immune boosting herbs, such as ginger and astragalus (and a bit of raw honey for sweetness!)
Lemon peels have also been shown to lower LDL cholesterol, which makes it an ideal bevy to sip on to improve your overall health (4).
18. Bathtub Cleaner
Lemon peels can help restore the shine and eliminate bacteria from your bathtub. You can also use lemon peel cleaner to wipe down the toilet and counters.
19. Exfoliating Body Scrub
Lemon peels are the ultimate DIY ‘home spa day’ ingredient for making exfoliating scrubs that help brighten your skin and remove dead skin cells. All you need is lemon extract made from lemon peels and epsom salts. Follow this recipe to make an easy, two ingredient exfoliating body scrub.
20. Fridge Deodorizer
Sometimes the odors in your fridge are unavoidable, but lemon peels can help absorb unpleasant smells. Simply place a few dried lemon peels in the corners of your fridge, and replace them every 1-2 weeks.
To dry lemon peels, you can use a dehydrator or place them on a baking sheet in the oven at 200 ºF for 20-30 minutes, depending on your oven. The ends of the peels will begin to curl up when they’re ready. Store peels in a glass, airtight container in your pantry until ready to use.
21. Coffee Cup Stain Remover
If your favourite mug is covered in stains, rub them with a fresh lemon peels to wipe off the old coffee marks.
22. Cheese Grater Cleaner
Cheese graters are one of the most difficult kitchen utensils to clean, but not when you have lemon peels on hand. Scrub the grater with your citrus peels before and after rinsing with hot water.
23. Liquor Infusion
If you’re enjoying summer bevies with your friends, why not sneak in as many vitamins and minerals to your drinks as possible? The vitamin C in lemon peels help your liver detoxify, and electrolytes such as potassium and magnesium help replenish what’s lost from consuming alcohol. (PS: Here are the best and worst types of alcohols to drink.)
24. Lemon Peel Vitamin C Powder
Have an all natural vitamin C drink mix at your fingertips by grinding dried lemon peels. All you have to do is place 1 cup of dried lemon peels into a food processor until they form a fine powder. Keep this powder in a tightly sealed mason jar, and mix 1 tsp with water.
25. Nail Cleaner
If you’ve had a dark shade of nail polish on, or your nails aren’t looking as bright as you’d like, use the inside of a lemon peel to help clean up your nails (be careful to avoid any paper cuts or hangnails).
26. Hassle-Free Microwave Cleaner
Lemon peels are the ultimate microwave ‘steam cleaner’. Place one handful of lemon peels into a microwave safe bowl and cook on high heat for 5 minutes. Remove the bowl from the microwave and wipe off stains and grime with a cloth.
27. Tea Pot Cleaner
Hard water can leave mineral deposits in your kettle. To help remove build up, add a handful of lemon peels to your kettle and fill with hot water. Bring to a boil and allow the lemon peel water to sit for an hour, drain, and rinse.
28. Lemon Oil Extract
When recipes call for lemon extract, your first instinct may be to purchase it from your local health food store. However, you can easily make your own lemon extract at home for about a fifth of the cost. Here’s how to do it.
29. Dishwasher Cleaner
Lemon peels double as a stain and odor remover — and can also help polish your cutlery. Put a handful of lemon peels in the cutlery basket of your dishwasher and wash with your regular wash cycle.
30. Biodegradable Plant Seed Pot
Lemon peels make the perfect biodegradable plant pot for growing herbs inside. Simply scoop out the flesh of a lemon peel and fill with with soil. Pot your soil, add your seeds and some water, place by a window, and watch your plants grow.