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How to Recycle Citrus Peels

Photo by Ruby Bayan

How to Recycle Citrus Peels. The skins of oranges, lemons, tangerines and other citrus fruits don't have to end up in the trash bin. Citrus peels can be recycled and reused in the home and garden. Besides adding them to the compost pile, consider other practical and creative ways to recycle both fresh and dried citrus fruit skins.

Drop orange peels and lemon slices in the kitchen sink's food waste disposer unit. The citrus oils from the torn-up skins will give the waste disposer a quick cleaning and citrusy smell.

Simmer cut-up citrus peels in a small pan. Add cinnamon sticks and whole cloves to give your house the fragrance of sweet home cooking. Multitask by doing this with a pan that you want to clean; the boiling citrus peels will help loosen burnt food stuck to the bottom of the pan.

Scrape off the top layer of the skin of an orange or lemon with a zester tool. Use the zest fresh (or dried) in desserts, soups, stews and casseroles.

Dry citrus peels and include in potpourri mixes. Cut the peel into different shapes before drying and use them as decorative accents on handicrafts and centerpieces.

Use dried orange peels in the fireplace; as fire starters, they burn longer than wood shavings and smell fragrant too.

Wrap dried citrus peels in used dryer sheets and tuck in closets and drawers to help reduce stale odors.

Use squeezed-out lemons and oranges to clean kitchen sinks, stovetops and countertops. Rub the citrus slices on the kitchen surface, letting some of the leftover juices and skin oils loosen the dirt and disinfect the area. Rinse out or wipe clean with a damp cloth. Do the same for cutting boards.

Use an orange peel as a bird feeder. If you peeled the orange using the circular pattern (the whole skin is one long twisty strand), you can douse the strand with peanut butter, sprinkle some birdseeds, then hang it out in the backyard.

Clean brass and bronze d├ęcor items with leftover lemon slices and squeezed-out fruits. Dip the fruit slice in a saucer of baking soda and rub the metal with it. Let it stand for a few minutes and rinse or wipe clean with a damp cloth. Then polish the metal to a shine.


Try squeezing orange or lemon peels onto a lit candle to get a citrusy aroma. Citrus peels among the plants discourage cats and dogs from making the area their restroom. Find a recipe for candied orange peels. Should be worth a try.


Never squeeze citrus peels on anybody's eyes. The oils will sting and can cause severe injury to the eyes.

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