10 ways to clean with citrus peels — expert tips to freshen up your home

Clean with citrus peels to tackle anything from glassware to the garbage disposal

Bed of citrus, with oranges, lemons and limes cut in half - for article on 10 ways to clean with citrus peels
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Knowing how to clean with citrus peels opens up a world of ways to freshen up your home without the need for harsh or expensive chemicals.

From cleaning glassware to sprucing up your garbage disposal, our industry pros reveal 10 ways to harness the hidden cleaning power of those zesty lemons and juicy oranges in your fruit bowl.

When it comes to cleaning your home, you'd be surprised how much you can achieve with just the peels from your favorite fruit.

10 ways to clean with citrus peels

Since we don't always have the best cleaning supplies to hand, knowing ways to clean with citrus peels allows you a quick and natural route to a fresh home and is eco-friendly too.

Our experts will run you through 10 different cleaning jobs these powerful peels can take care of, with step-by-step instructions and top tips for maximum impact.

Where our pros have suggested products to use in conjunction to your peelings, we've found high-quality buys to match from trusted retailers.

All prices were correct at the time of publication. 

1. Create a cleaning spray

Homemade citrus spray with half-cut citrus fruits in the background

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To begin your citrus cleaning campaign, harness the natural degreasing and antibacterial properties of orange, lemon, lime, or grapefruit peels to create a potent cleaning spray for use around your home.

Simply place citrus peels in a glass jar and submerge them with white vinegar (boasting more than a thousand five-star reviews and costing under a dollar, the Good & Gather Distilled White Vinegar from Target offers quality at an affordable price). Let the mixture sit for about two weeks, allowing the peels to infuse the vinegar with their cleaning magic.

Karina Toner, operations manager of Spekless Cleaning, says, "Citrus peels contain natural oils and acids that have antibacterial and antifungal properties, while vinegar acts as a powerful disinfectant."

Afterward, strain the citrus-infused vinegar into a spray bottle and dilute it with water (about equal parts vinegar and water). This citrus-infused cleaning spray is perfect for countertops, windows and other surfaces, leaving behind a refreshing scent.

With more than 30,000 positive reviews, Karina recommends the reusable, eco-friendly, empty Amber Glass Spray Bottles from Amazon. She adds: "For an extra boost of cleaning power and an even fresher scent, add a few drops of essential oil (such as tea tree oil or lavender oil) to the citrus-infused vinegar before transferring it to the spray bottle."

The Pursonic Manual Oils & Scents Kit from Wayfair contains a great variety of eight fresh smells including lavender, lemongrass and eucalyptus.

Profile photo of Karina Toner, operations manager at Spekless Cleaning
Karina Toner

Karina is an Operations Manager at Spekless Cleaning, a prominent cleaning company based in Arlington, VA. With over a decade of hands-on experience in the cleaning industry, she's honed her expertise in providing top-notch cleaning solutions tailored to meet the unique needs of clients effectively, and sustainably.

2. Garbage disposal refresher

Knowing how to clean a garbage disposal is key to a pleasant-smelling kitchen. Citrus peels can play a key role in eliminating its unpleasant odors.

Karina says, "Begin by cutting citrus peels into small pieces and placing them in an ice cube tray. For an eco-friendly option, consider silicone ice cube trays that are reusable and easy to clean."

The three-pack of SUPTREE Silicone Ice Cube Trays from Walmart are dishwasher safe and come with lids to reduce spills pre-freezing

Karina says, "Fill the tray with white vinegar and freeze until solid. Once frozen, drop a couple of citrus vinegar ice cubes into your garbage disposal and run it with cold water for a few seconds. The ice cubes will help to dislodge debris and grease build-up, while the citrus peels and vinegar freshen and deodorize the disposal."

Citrus peels contain natural oils and enzymes that help break down food particles and eliminate odors, while vinegar acts as a disinfectant and deodorizer. Freezing the mixture into ice cubes provides additional abrasive action to clean the disposal blades.

Karina adds: "Avoid using hot water when running the garbage disposal with citrus vinegar ice cubes, as it may cause the ice cubes to melt too quickly and reduce their effectiveness."

3. Wood furniture polish

Clean wooden table and chairs, with white flowers in the middle of the table

(Image credit: Carlina Teteris/Getty Images)

Revitalize your wooden furniture with a homemade citrus-infused polish. 

Karina says, "Infuse citrus peels in a jar of olive oil for at least one week, ensuring the peels are completely submerged. After the infusion period, strain out the citrus peels and transfer the citrus-infused olive oil into a clean, dry bottle.

"Apply a small amount of the citrus furniture polish onto a soft cloth and use it to polish wooden furniture, such as tables, chairs, and cabinets. The natural oils in the citrus peels nourish and protect wood surfaces, leaving them with a beautiful shine and a refreshing citrus scent."

Karina recommends Bertolli Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil from Amazon for its high quality and suitability for wooden surfaces. For soft cloths, this Scotch-Brite 3-in-1 Microfiber Cleaning Cloth Set from Target boasts great absorbency — an important feature to ensure the wood doesn't become oversaturated. 

4. Coffee pot cleaner

Coffee pot with coffee brewing, with mug and candle to the side, in a kitchen

(Image credit: Tony Anderson/Getty Images)

Over time, mineral deposits and coffee residue can build up in your coffee pot, affecting the flavor of your brew. Give your coffee pot a thorough cleaning with citrus peels. 

Fill the pot with water, add a handful of citrus peels — lemon or orange work well — and bring the water to a boil. Allow it to simmer for 15-20 minutes before rinsing thoroughly. 

The acidity of the citrus peels helps break down stubborn stains and residue, leaving your coffee pot sparkling clean and odor-free.

5. Microwave deodorizer

Banish lingering odors, grime and burnt-on stains from your microwave with the power of citrus peels. 

Place a few peels — lemon, lime or orange work equally well — into a microwave-safe bowl filled with water. Microwave on high for three to five minutes until the water boils and steam fills the microwave. 

Let it sit for a few minutes before carefully removing the bowl. Use a damp cloth to wipe down the interior, removing any loosened food particles and leaving behind a fresh citrus scent.

Will Cotter, owner of HappyCleans, says, "The steam will soften any food splatters or grease, making it super easy to wipe everything down with a sponge or cloth."

Will recommends the Amazon Basics Microfiber Cleaning Cloths, which come with more than 50,000 five-star reviews. 

Will adds, "I love using this method! It’s super convenient and budget-friendly since you probably have citrus fruits in your kitchen already. Do this once a week for a consistently clean microwave."

Will Cotter, COO of HappyCleans, standing in sunshine in front of San Francisco Bridge.
Will Cotter

Will Cotter is Chief Operating Officer at the fast-growing professional home cleaning service HappyCleans. Its list of territories includes Oklahoma, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Louisville, Jacksonville, Columbus, Detroit, and Cleveland.

6. Cutting board cleaner

Wooden cutting board being rinsed in the sink

(Image credit: gorodenkoff/Getty Images)

Keep your cutting board clean and odor-free with citrus peels. 

Will says, "Don’t just throw away those peels after prepping lemonade! Use them to scrub your cutting board. The natural oils and acids in the peels disinfect the board and break down stains. 

"Sprinkle a small amount of coarse salt or baking soda over the surface of the board, then use the citrus peels to scrub it in. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes, then rinse it thoroughly with hot water and dry with a clean towel."

The Morton Coarse Sea Salt from Walmart pops open easily and boasts great reviews whilst the Good & Gather Baking Soda from Target comes with more than a thousand five-star reviews and is free from the top nine most common allergens.

7. Cloudy glassware reviver

Restore the sparkle to cloudy glassware with a simple citrus peel solution. 

Fill a sink or basin with warm water and add a handful of citrus peels — lemon or lime work best. Soak the glassware for 30-60 minutes, then wash as usual with dish soap and warm water. 

The citric acid in the peels helps dissolve mineral deposits and stubborn residue, leaving your glassware crystal clear and gleaming.

8. Stove top degreaser

Black stove top with deep red ceramic pan on top

(Image credit: brizmaker/Getty Images)

With all the spills, splashes and stains that come with the chaos of cooking, the stove top can easily become dirty and crusty. Tackle stubborn grease and grime on your stove top with the power of citrus peels. 

Wells Ye, founder of Fresh Tech Maid, says, "Due to their inherent degreasing properties, citrus peels are ideal for cleaning greasy stove tops mishaps.

"First, thoroughly sprinkle salt and baking soda over the greasy area. Next, cut a fresh citrus peel — orange or lemon peels work best in my experience — and clean the oily area with the fleshy side. Scrub in circular motion for max efficiency.

"The abrasive texture of the salt and baking soda combined with the acidity of the citrus peel helps lift away grease and stains, leaving your stove top sparkling clean and fresh."

Profile photo of Fresh Tech Maids founder Wells Ye
Wells Ye

Wells Ye is the brains behind Fresh Tech Maid — a respected, Chicago-based home cleaning service that boasts more than 10,000 happy clients thanks to more than 50,000 successful cleans. 

9. Stainless steel polish

Whether toasters, pans, kettles or coffee machines, you'll want to keep your stainless steel appliances clean to enjoy their sheen. A citrus-peel polish can swiftly restore a streak-free shine. 

Wells says, "This trick is great because it's so easy. Using a lemon or grapefruit peel, simply scrub the stainless steel surface, using gentle, circular motions. The stains and dirt will be lifted by the citric acid.

"Then — for that finishing touch — apply a little bit of olive oil to the surface with a microfiber cloth. This will provide that extra level of shine."

Wells recommends this HOMEXCEL Microfiber Cleaning Cloth 12-Pack from Amazon for a reliable buff. 

10. Natural air fresheners

Tray full of fruit, citrus peels and bottles

(Image credit: Liliboas/Getty Images)

When it comes to cleaning your home, making your own air freshener can add that extra level of fragrance and satisfaction. Using citrus peels provides an invigorating, natural scent you'll love. 

Place dried citrus peels — lemon, lime, or orange — in a bowl and display them around your home. As they dry, they release their aromatic oils, filling the air with a delightful citrus fragrance.

Alternatively, place dried peels within small pouches (the Psxuie Muslin Bags from Amazon have drawstrings and holes to release the fragrance steadily), adding cloves, cinnamon, lavender or nutmeg for extra fragrance. Placing the pouches around the house or in drawers for potpourri-style freshness. 

So there you have it — 10 ingenious ways to clean with citrus peels. With their natural acidity, refreshing scent, and versatile cleaning properties, citrus peels are a powerhouse ingredient for keeping your home fresh and sparkling. 

Next, check out the 10 ways to clean with salt and the 10 ways to clean with aluminum foil for other creative and budget-friendly ways to spruce up your home.

Andy van Terheyden
Freelance Writer

I'm a senior writer with an English degree and NCJ qualification, plus years of experience writing news, lifestyle and consumer articles for the national and international press. I'm also a copywriter, working on a breadth of consumer and corporate projects, and a private education consultant. I live in the quiet of the countryside and spend my weekends mooching around homeware shops, completing DIY tasks to breathe life into my small, newly-built home.