I love lemons. They are bright, refreshing, and smell divine. I’ve gotten in the habit of squeezing fresh lemon juice in a glass of water to help wake me up (and my digestive system) first thing in the morning. When I first started, I’m ashamed to admit that I would usually just throw the lemon peel away (or toss it in the garbage disposal). But when my lemon habit really took off I started storing the peels.
12 Uses for Leftover Lemon Peels
- Clean sinks and bathtubs
Sprinkle baking soda into a wet sink or bathtub, and use the cut side of a lemon to scrub these surfaces. This method will remove grime, act as a lemony “bleach,” and make sinks and bathtubs shine.
- Make dishes sparkle
Lemon not only acts as a degreaser, but the citric acid found in lemon also helps remove spots from dishes. Throw lemon rinds with the pulp into your dish water to help remove grease and make glasses and silverware sparkle.
- Remove grease or underarm stains on clothing
If you have half a lemon that has been squeezed, there will still be enough lemon juice in the remaining pulp to remove stains. Rub the half lemon on grease or underarm stains on garments. Allow it to sit overnight. For tough stains, sprinkle a bit of baking soda over the lemon-soaked stain and scrub, then wash as usual.
- Clean coffee pots
The acid in lemons works to dissolve hard water deposits and burnt coffee stains from your coffee pots. To a cool coffee pot, add lemon rinds, a few tablespoons of salt (as a mild abrasive), and a cup or two of ice. Swirl ingredients around in the coffee pot for several minutes, or until stains are completely removed. If stains are stubborn, leave the mixture in the coffee pot and soak for several hours or overnight. Rinse coffee pot well before using again.
- Clean soap scum and hard water stains on shower doors
Hard water stains are due to minerals in water, and soap scum is the result of the minerals in your water reacting with your soap. We already know from the coffee pot trick that lemon works great for removing this buildup. Take half a lemon rind with pulp intact, sprinkle salt inside it if desired, and rub directly on shower doors. Rinse well when finished.
- Make an all-purpose cleaner
This is one of the simplest ways to use your leftover lemon peels. Add the peels of several lemons to a large jar, and fill with white distilled vinegar. Allow the solution to “steep” in a cabinet for a few weeks. Strain out the peels, and use the vinegar solution as a great lemon-scented all-purpose cleaner…perfect for de-greasing, disinfecting, and leaving things smelling fresh. Add the citrus-infused vinegar to a spray bottle and use to clean countertops, sinks, toilets, spills, stovetops, or other surfaces.
- Refresh and sanitize cutting boards
Lemon does a nice job of eliminating odors that are trapped in your cutting boards (like garlic and onion!). It also sanitizes boards due to its antibacterial properties. Take half a squeezed lemon with pulp intact, and rub vigorously over a cutting board that has been sprinkled with a coarsely ground salt (like kosher salt). Rinse well and allow to dry.
- Remove odors from hands
If you have lingering odors on your hands from chopping things like garlic or onions, rub lemon rinds on your fingers, nails, and hands to leave them smelling fresh again.
- Deodorize garbage disposals
Smelly garbage disposals can be freshened up with leftover lemon rinds. (I’m always careful to put smaller chunks down the disposal so it doesn’t clog.) Simply drop rinds down the disposal with a few ice cubes and run the disposal.
- Clean your microwave and stovetop
Put one or two lemon halves, that have already been squeezed, into the microwave for about 15-20 seconds. Carefully remove the lemon halves and use them to clean the inside of the microwave, as well as the stovetop and the range hood. Rub lemon halves onto surfaces, then wipe clean with a wet dish cloth.
- Remove rust stains
The acid in lemons helps remove rust stains. This can be helpful in showers where shaving cream cans have left a rust ring, or sinks where iron pots have been left. Sprinkle salt on the rust stain and rub with half of a lemon that still has pulp inside. Allow the salt and lemon to sit for several hours, scrubbing periodically if needed. Allow the lemon to rest on the surface overnight if the stain has not yet disappeared, then rinse well with water.
- Whiten teeth
The acid content in citrus rinds can whiten and brighten dull or stained teeth. Rub the inner white part of the lemon peel on your teeth for a few minutes for a whitening effect. Rinse well with water after using the citrus peels. I love this remedy because you will notice almost immediate whitening effects! Note: Use this remedy very sparingly to avoid damage to tooth enamel or tooth sensitivity.