25 Uses For Lemon Peels…Including Lemon Vinegar!

Whenever I walk into a grocery store produce section I have this uncontrollable urge to buy citrus! It seems I can’t leave the store without buying 4 or 5 lemons or limes. If you follow me on Pinterest you will see I have a bit of an obsession with lemons. My “Lemon Joy” board has over 340 pins!!

Can you blame me??? Lemons are amazing!  They truly are the “multi-purpose” fruit! They have so MANY purposes that I wasn’t even going to ATTEMPT to include them all in one post. So today we’re going to start with the lemon PEEL and work our way into the juice (in a future post.)

I got the idea for this post when I decided to try making my own Lemon Vinegar. I personally like vinegar just the way it is and the smell never has bothered me, but when I start using it at home the “boys” act like I’m spraying napalm around the house!  They are so dramatic! (I have no idea where they get THAT from!) I’d seen all kinds of pins on Pinterest about a cleaning solution made of ORANGE peels and vinegar, and decided to try it out with lemons instead. It was worth a try if it would reduce the whining around here. :-)

I didn’t have any lemon peels just laying around, but I had just purchased a bag of lemons (big surprise) so I decided to juice them and freeze the juice for later use, then I went ahead and sliced up the peels.


I had enough to fill two quart-sized mason jars, then I poured in vinegar until it reached just under the neck of the bottle. I put the lid on tightly and I waited. TWO WEEKS I waited! Which for me is like TWO YEARS! lol.  I am the most impatient person I have ever met, besides my Dad. :-)  I actually had to put the bottles away in a cupboard so I couldn’t see them and be tempted to use it prematurely.


But I am happy to report that it was worth the wait!  Not only did the vinegar now have a very nice lemony aroma (you still smell the vinegar, but not nearly as strongly as before) it cleaned stuff like crazy!

All-Purpose Lemon Vinegar Cleaner:

  • Fill container of your choice with cut up lemon peels.
  • Add vinegar to cover the peels. Seal with tight-fitting lid.
  • Put it away and forget about it for two weeks.
  • After two weeks, strain the lemon peels from the vinegar then add water. I used on a 50/50 mix of water and lemon vinegar.

The first place I tried my new cleaning solution was the place in my kitchen that gets the greasiest and dirtiest…the stove. Specifically the stove hood! It’s kind of a litmus test for cleaners around here. If it can clean THERE, it can clean ANYWHERE!  And it cut through the grease and grime like it was nothing! I am really LOVING this stuff!


So what else can you do with Lemon Peels?

The list might surprise you!

Here are 25 MORE things to do with lemon peels:

Skin Lightener/Brightener
Lemon is a natural skin lightener because of the citric acid in them which is a bleaching agent. Apply leftover lemon peels to your hands, elbows and heels to refresh and lighten the skin and tighten pores.

Garbage Disposal Deodorizer
Lemon (or orange) peels tossed regularly into the garbage disposal will keep the garbage disposal smelling fresh.

Simmering Stove Top Scents
Add lemon rinds to simmering water along with cloves, cinnamon sticks, and orange peels to make a delightful aroma AND humidify the air.

Ant-Proof Your Kitchen
Scatter small slices of lemon peel along thresholds, windowsills, around door entrances, and near any cracks or holes where ants or pests may be entering. Ants do not like lemon and will not enter your home. Lemons are also effective against roaches and fleas.

Coffee Cup Stain Remover
Put a section of lemon peel into a stained coffee mug and add water. Let it sit for several hours, then wipe with a cloth. Stains should disappear.

Refrigerator Freshness
Cut lemon in half and let it absorb fridge smells.

Tea Kettle/Coffee Pot Cleaner
For mineral deposit build up in your tea kettle, fill the kettle with water, add a handful of thin slices of lemon peel and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and let sit for an hour, drain, and rinse well. For coffee pots, add ice, salt and lemon rinds to the empty pot; swish and swirl for a minute or two, dump, and rinse.


Microwave Cleaner
Add lemon rinds to a microwave-safe bowl filled halfway with water. Cook on high for 5 minutes, allowing the water to boil and the steam to condense inside. Carefully remove the hot bowl and wipe away the mess with a damp towel.

Chrome Polish
Cut through mineral deposits on chrome faucets and other tarnished chrome by rubbing with a squeezed lemon half, rinsing, and lightly buffing with a soft cloth.

Copper, Brass, & Stainless Steel Polish
Brighten copper, brass, or stainless steel by dipping a juiced lemon half in salt (you also use baking soda or cream of tartar for the salt) and rubbing on the affected area. Leave on for 5 minutes. Then rinse in warm water and polish dry.

Stove Top Humidifier
If your home suffers from dry heat in the winter, put lemon peels in a pot of water and simmer on the lowest stove-top setting to humidify and scent the air.

Cutting Board Refesher
The antibacterial properties of lemons make them a good choice for refreshing cutting boards. After disinfecting give the surface a rub with a halved lemon, let sit for a few minutes, and rinse.

Brown Sugar Keeper
Add lemon peel (with pulp removed) to brown sugar to help keep it moist and easy to use.


Lemon Zest
Zest is simply grated peel, and it can be used fresh, dried, or frozen. If you don’t have a zester, use the smallest size of a box grater. To dry zest, spread it on a towel and leave out until dried, then store in a jar. To freeze, use a freezer-safe container. Use zest in salads, marinades, baked goods, grain dishes, etc.


Lemon Twists
Use a vegetable peeler or a knife to cut the peel into long strips, cutting away the white pith which is bitter. These can also be frozen in a freezer-safe container or bag. Great in cocktails, sparkling water, and tap water.

Lemon Extract Powder
Using the zest or twists from above, dry the strips skin-side down on a plate about 3 or 4 days. Put in a blender (or spice grinder) and pulverize into a powder. Use the powdered peel in place of extract or zest in recipes.

Lemon Sugar
Add lemon extract powder (see above) to sugar, or use fresh twists, put them in a jar with sugar and let them infuse the sugar.

Lemon Pepper
Mix lemon extract powder (see above) with freshly cracked pepper.

Candied lemon peel
Candied peels can be eaten plain, or dipped in melted chocolate, used in cake, cookie, candy, or bread recipes.

Lemon Sugar Scrub
Mix 1/2 cup sugar with finely chopped lemon peel and enough olive oil to make a paste. Wet your body in the shower, turn off the water and massage sugar mix all over your skin, rinse. Feel the softness!

Nail Whitener
Whiten fingernails by rubbing with a lemon wedge.

Travel Sickness Cure
Suck on a slice of lemon to help you stop feeling nauseous.

Grater Cleaner
Remove dried food from your grater by rubbing with the pulp side of a cut lemon.

Bake discarded orange or lemon peels until they darken. These create natural, fragrant firelighters.

Trash Can Deodorizer
Throw a few lemon peels in the bottom of the can from time to time to keep it smelling fresh.


Remember…..When Life Gives You Lemons…..Don’t Throw Away The Peels! 


What do you use Lemon Peels for?


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  1. Laura N. says

    First, Thank you for the work involved in this daily blog. Second, I have been making the lemon enzyme for months, and two weeks ago I pulled out my most recent batch and it had the mother of all ‘mother’s growing. It smells like vinegar and not at all like previous batches, My question…how is this different? I’m not talk’n techno stuff…I’m curious as to smell, color, clarity, general cleaning….
    Thanks again to you and your forum for us ‘not so hard core’ living frugal individuals.

    • says

      Laura…I’m not quite sure but I would try giving it a good shake, strain it, dilute it and clean as usual. Shouldn’t hurt anything. If you find it’s not as effective as before you might want to start another batch. I’m going to look into this some more.

  2. Nancy says

    I tear lemon peel into ½” pieces and sprinkle them outside in areas that I don’t want the neighborhood cats to, uh, use. They really do seem to hate the smell and avoid the area now!

  3. Christina says

    I have one with lemon going right now. I can’t wait to use it – I opened it and it smells wonderful! I did one with orange peels the first time but the lemon one seems much stronger and very lemony. I love this stuff. Can you put the flesh in too or just the peel?

  4. Beth Norred says

    I LOVE CITRUS ALSO.. so glad to see this post, as it reminds me to get some, and freeze it while its still fresh. i hate not having fresh citrus and Cilantro in the Winter months. My mouth waters at the thought of squeezing them.. lol LOVE your blog and so happy to get the daily post with all your hard work.. THANKS Jillee =)

  5. Karen423 says

    I clean my white sink with lemon and baking soda. I sprinkle baking soda in the sink and then scrub with non scratching sponge (I use the new one natural one that can go through the dishwasher to sanitize it). Then go through with a couple of lemon slices, the lemon juice reacts with the baking soda on tough spots. Scrub the sink with the lemon (mostly the pulp, but use the peel like a scrubber on dark marks from utensils), let dry then rinse away. Run left over lemon down the disposal.

  6. kathy says

    i dry the lemon peels. when they are completely dried out i grind them down in a coffee bean grinder. i mix this in with my homemade dishwasher soap to use as the ctiric acid. has been working great and smells divine

  7. Karen says

    I have a Meyer lemon tree and right now it has dozens of lemons in various stages of ripening. I just love it and give away lots. Thanks for all the tips! Last year I made Limoncello from lemon rinds using Giada’s recipe. Delicious!

    • Sue S. says

      I was going to recommend making Limoncello too! I have a Meyer Lemon tree (it’s a lemon crossed with a tangerine I think?) and my Limoncello turns out orange, but is super delicious! I buy French lemonade at World Market (with the wire swing tops) and after I drink the lemonade, I sterilize the bottles and use them for my homemade limoncello.

  8. Char says

    Lemon is my absolute favorite scent and flavor! I use lemon weekly in my garbage disposal and on my cutting boards. I will definitely be giving the lemon vinegar a try! Did you know that lemon is also a natural detoxing agent for your liver? I drink lemon first thing in the morning (before my coffee) and throughout the day and before going to bed (about an hour before, if not I will not get any sleep). If you are trying to lose weight or decrease bloating, try lemon water. Be careful of the acidity with your teeth, I use about 1/2 a lemon daily. And it just tastes so good!

  9. Ruthie in TN says

    I’m going to post this question in the forum as soon as my registration gets approved, but thought for now I would ask here, as the whole lemon vinegar thing made me think about it again:

    Does anyone have a good recommendation on where to get good reusable cleaning supplies, such as spray bottles / scrubbers? Jillee’s had me making my own everything for long enough that I don’t have much left in the way of old brand-name spray bottles, and the ones I have re-used never seem to last very long before they start leaking everywhere.

    I’d love to find things that are eco-friendly AND that don’t cost an arm & a leg – but that may be too much to ask. :O) I’ve found plenty of websites selling cleaning supplies but have no idea which ones I can trust.

  10. Tammie says

    Jillee asked what we use lemon peels for and the first thing that came to mind was a remedy for sore throats. Take a lemon and cut the top 1/4 off. Score an ‘x’ in top, now exposed portion of the remaining lemon. Place a peppermint down into the ‘x’. Gently squeeze the lemon (or rol it between your two hands) to release some of the juice. Now simply suck on the lemon, drinking the juice. Do this until there isn’t anymore juice. Something about this magical concoction relieves your sore throat.

  11. Deborah Jennings says

    Have any of you used the lemon zest in a cake. Oh my! If you like lemon as much as I do, try it. And I use the juice with powdered sugar to make the glaze. (I only make bundt cakes any more.) The lemon is so good, too. Just remember that with the zest, a little goes a long way. (I put a tad too much in the cake, but I still ate it all! I loved it!

  12. meenakshi says

    In Indian restaurants, after a meal, they place little bowls of warm water with a thin lemon slice/wedge in it. One can dip one’s hands & fingers, swirl around & then wipe clean. It is Very refreshing, cleansing, & removes all traces of oil, greasiness. It leaves one’s hands feeling soft & clean.
    I do this as part of my home manicure routine.

  13. says

    I love lemons too and love the idea of using lemon peel to make lemon vinegar. I do think using lemons as cleansers is impractical if you don’t live in an area where they are inexpensive. I lived for 4 years in Houston and you could buy 10 lemons for $1.00 year round. But for most of the country (and where I live now) we are lucky to get 3 lemons for $1.00. That adds up to mighty expensive cleaner.

  14. Karen H. says

    I’ve become so conscious of all the nasty germs lurking around everywhere these days. And when I was made aware of all the crud living on menus in restaurants, I kinda freaked for not having thought of it sooner! So now, after I have ordered my meal and before I touch anything else, I use a slice of lemon to sanitize my hands. Keeps me from having to run to the ladies room to keep washing my hands!

  15. Brittany says

    I am sooooo happy you posted this! I cleaned my stove with baking soda and lemon juice today and I claimed out loud I LOVE LEMONS! AND BAKING SODA! I love the smell of citrus as well, so anything to make the place smell like it I am down! Definitely want to make the lemon vinegar as I am in love with that as well. I also love those red sparkly nails you have there!

  16. Allie says

    I LOVE Lemon. Great uses!
    Here are additional uses. Most are from Reader’s Digest.
    Eliminate Fireplace Odor – toss into a burning fire
    Last Resort to remove stains on marble – warning, it’s an acid, but it will bleach the stain
    Neutralize Cat Box Odor – a couple wedges in a bowl, will remove the scent from the air
    Deodorize Humidifier – 3 to 4 tspn. added to the water every few weeks will remove any odor and leave a nice lemony scent
    Prevent Potatoes and Cauliflower from turning brown – put a teaspoon of lemon juice in while they’re boiling and they won’t brown
    Brighten dull aluminum – rub the cut side of a lemon inside and out and buff with a soft cloth
    Keep rice from sticking – add a spoonful to boiling water, when done – let sit to cool and fluff with a fork
    Keep guacamole green, apple slices from browning, fruit salads fresh – just sprinkle liberally
    Make soggy lettuce crisp – Add the juice of half a lemon to a bowl of cold water. Then put the soggy lettuce in it and refrigerate for 1 hour. Make sure to dry the leaves completely before putting them into salads or sandwiches.
    Insect cleaner – you touched on this – here’s what I do – Simply mix the juice of 4 lemons (along with the rinds) with 1/2 gallon (2 liters) water and wash your floors with it; then watch the fleas and roaches flee. They hate the smell.
    Clean your microwave – Mix 3 tablespoons lemon juice into 1 1/2 cups water in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on High for 5-10 minutes, allowing the steam to condense on the inside walls and ceiling of the oven. Then just wipe away the softened food with a dishrag.
    Soak delicates in baking soda and lemon juice for at least half an hour before washing
    Remove underarm stains

  17. JEN C says

    Thanks for posting this. Everyone is always going on and on about cleaning with vinegar, but I can’t stand the smell. My mom used to run it through the coffee pot to clean it. I couldn’t stand being in the house on those days.

  18. Melodie Welborn says

    Place the peels of 8 to 14 lemons in a large gallon jar cover completely with a 5th of vodka. Place out for 3 weeks. Shake gently every day. Let it sit for 21 days. Mix with simple syrup and you have homemade Limencello. It is delicious. Save the peels and dry them after soaking to make a garnish. This is great over fruit salad as well.

  19. Tina says

    Just wanted to post a little something to those with cat problems… I read online that you can take the egg shells.. crush it up, and sprinkle it into your garden… I think egg shells can be used as fertilizers as well.. but anyway, the cats supposedly don’t like the feel of prickly shells on their paws, so they will stay away from your garden…

      • Michelle says

        To get rid of unwanted cats in your garden, sprinke alot of cayenne pepper among your rows of flowers/veggies, etc. Sprinkle it on kind of thick too. It won’t hurt your flowers or veggies in any way. The cats get it on their paws, lick them and they don’t like the intense heat in their mouth! I used it in my mulch in the front yard near my front door because they kept peeing in it and all I could smell was cat urine. I bought a large container of cayenne pepper from Sams Club, sprinkled it all over the mulch and had no problems after that. A friend told me about it as she used it all the time for her veggie garden to keep cats and other critters away.

  20. Debbie says

    When someone in my house has a lot of congestion or a sore throat we make hot lemonade. It cuts the congestion in your throat and it feels much better.
    The other day we cut up lemons and ginger and put it in jars covered with honey to use as a tea base for sore throats and coughs.

  21. Karen423 says

    So many of the comments with detergent people are using just Vinegar in the washing machine rinse water. I don’t know about others, just I can still smell a hint of vinegar on my laundry when pulling it out. Thinking about this lemon vinegar what about infusing vinegar with lavender stalks in the summer months, or mint leaves if you have a mint plant.

    lavender or mint smelling vinegar for laundry or cleaning.

    • Wanda says

      I was using just vinegar as my softener too until lately. I made Jillee’s Fresh Scent Homemade Fabric Softener using the Purex Crystals. Love it! I used the same fragrance crystals in my laundry detergent and my clothes smell wonderful! I have turned two girlfriends onto making their own detergent and softener this past week – and these are two who probably would not have considered doing that until they tried a sample. They thought I was crazy to make my own stuff … til they tried it.

  22. Marlene Placido says

    Dog or horse mange remedy = a bunch of lemon peels, (okay if they have leftover stuff clinging to the insides) cover with water, wait 3 days, bathe infected areas with the water. Afterwards, add more water to the lemon peels, in another three days do it again.. Keep doing it till the mange clears up.. non toxic to pets or humans, and it works! I got this many years ago from a book by herbalist Juliet de Barcli-Levy.

  23. Awesome1 says

    Would the lemon vinegar be alright to use on your hair? I know everyone says to use ACV but I absolutely can NOT stand the smell. I think this would be a great alternative because of the added benefits of the lemon.

  24. Kelly says

    I made this lemon vinegar some time ago. I use it sparingly as I still have tons of other cleaners I am trying to use them up first. But I have used it for everything. For instance the dog had a terrible hairball and decided to displace it on top of my suede sofa. Took a dishrag and solution to it and there is no stain of any kind. No smell at all. Have wash mirrors & windows with it and left no streaks and even kept away the steam from bath mirror for a few days of hot showers. I did leave my peels in for the entire time but just strained them a few days ago. Probably set for 2 months in vinegar. Smell of solution has no vinegar scent to it at all. Have shared with friends who have claimed it fantastic as well.

  25. Brooke says

    I LOVE citrus vinegar. I always a a sprig or two of rosemary to my lemon for that Williams Sonoma smell after I finish cleaning. But since we use more of them, I usually make grapefruit vinegar. It has a much lighter fragrance than the lemon or orange.

  26. Mary J. says

    What great ideas for lemons. My husband and I have 13 acres of lemon trees and I am always picking lemons that won’t make it to the next harvest. I hate to see them go to waste and I love the smell so I can’t wait to use some of your ideas! Thanks.

  27. LibStre says

    Hi Jillee–I was so excited when I saw this post and prepared a batch that was ready a couple of days ago. I kept dipping into the batch, like a child peeking at Christmas gifts before the holiday. Today I filtered the final product and sprayed it on the kitchen range hood and backsplash–holy cow, it cleaned like crazy! Thank you for sharing another “Good Thing by Jillee.”

  28. Nena says

    So many great ideas. Lemons can be frozen and so can the peels. I keep a ziplock bag of lemon wedges in the fridge to add to ice tea, hot tea, V-8, water and other beverages. I also squeeze the lemons and freeze the lemon juice in ice cube trays for anything I might need lemon juice for. It’s healthier than bottled lemon juice which contains sodium. Peels go in a ziplock bag in the freezer too.

    When I was a little girl, my grandma used to squeeze lemons into a bowl of warm water and rinse my hair with it. Then she would let me sit out in the sun for a while. My hair always had nice golden highlights when she did this. I still do it today. It’s safe for children and also alot healthier on your hair in the summer instead of chemicals, dyes or “sun-in”.

  29. Anna says

    THANK YOU for this awesome blog! I stumbled upon it this morning and have been loving all these cleaning tips! I’ve been using vinegar for years to clean; I can’t believe I never thought to add lemon! Just made up my first batch of Lemon Vinegar this morning and I’m impatiently waiting for the two weeks to be up so I can use it!!

  30. Lisa C says

    It is official….. I have to start budgeting in a “Jillee” fund…..Every time I read this blog, I end up running to the store! I love this site. So many great ideas…..Thanks Jillee!


  1. [...] even use it as a water conditioner for our humidifier. Here is a link in case you haven't tried it: 25 Uses For Lemon Peels?Including Lemon Vinegar!One Good Thing by Jillee | One Good Thing by Jillee Wife to Jim and cat mom to Tucker, Benny, and Sadie Reply With [...]

  2. […] Lemon Vinegar This stuff is my go-to general purpose cleaner, and what I love even more is that it is kid-friendly. I add a few drops of tea tree oil, which has antibiotic qualities and I clean pretty much all my kitchen surfaces, doors and cabinets with this. You can also use orange peels. I freeze the peels and pull them out when it’s time to make another batch :) […]

  3. […] One Good Thing suggests combining white vinegar with used halves of lemons. The benefit of this is you can have your cake and eat it to, or lemons, as the case may be. For those of us who can’t resist a nice tall glass of lemonade, we can kill two birds with one stone by squeezing the juice out for a citrusy refreshment and use their empty carcasses for cleaning, by combining them with vinegar. There is a wait time on this recipe, so make sure you read the full instructions. […]

  4. […] Couldn’t you just sit for hours scrolling through all the unique projects, DIYs, and articles on Pinterest?! Yeah, we could too. There are some really crazy ideas out there, so when we stumble upon something genius (and cheap!), we can’t help but share it with you! Get ready to have your mind blown by this collection from One Good Thing By Jillee about 25 amazing things you can do with lemon peels. […]

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