How To Make Concentrated Orange Oil For Cleaning

Homemade Orange Oil

On a recent grocery shopping trip I came across a large bag of mandarin oranges that were on sale and calling my name…so I had to bring it home! After eating my fill (and then some!) I didn’t know what to do with the rest of the tangerines, but I figured I could come up with something! After a bit of searching, I came across an idea that sounded like it was tailor-made for me… using the peels to make homemade orange oil!

Homemade Orange Oil

Orange oil makes a great addition to homemade cleaners for several reasons. First, it has amazing grease-cutting abilities, so you can power through tough messes and stains. Second, it has antibacterial qualities to help kill germs. And finally, it smells wonderfully fresh. (Did you know the scent of citrus can actually help boost your mood and energy? Fun fact!)

Related: Benefits of Sweet Orange Essential Oil

So I whipped up my very own batch of orange oil, and I’ve already added it to a few of my favorite homemade cleaners. Here’s how you can make your own orange oil at home!

Homemade Orange Oil

Homemade Orange Oil

You’ll need:

  • A lot of orange peels*
  • A couple of mason jars
  • Cheesecloth
  • Mesh sieve
  • Rubbing alcohol

*Note: We used the peels from a bag of mandarin oranges, which yielded a few tablespoons of concentrated orange oil. You can make more or less, depending on your needs!

Homemade Orange Oil


Start by peeling your oranges. Or you can start a “stash” of citrus peels if you’re working your way through a bag or box of oranges. Just set them in a dish on your countertop and flip the peels once a day until you’re ready to use them.

Next you’ll dry the orange peels. We used our dehydrator, and the peels were dry in about 5 hours. If you don’t have a dehydrator, your oven would work just as well! Place them in your oven on the lowest possible temperature for 30-60 minutes.

Homemade Orange Oil

You’ll know the peels are properly dry when you can snap them in half with your fingers.

Homemade Orange Oil

Once the peels are dry, place them in a mason jar (or two, depending on how much you have). Fill the remainder of the jar with rubbing alcohol. We used the 70% solution, but a 90% solution would be even better.

Place the lid on the jar(s), and let the peels soak for about a week. The rubbing alcohol will draw the natural oils out of the peels, and you’ll see the alcohol start to turn orange as it soaks.

Homemade Orange Oil

The next step is to drain the peels. Line a fine-mesh sieve with a piece of folded cheesecloth, then place it over a wide dish. Pour the alcohol and peels into the sieve and let the liquid drain out.

Homemade Orange Oil

Then bundle the peels up in the cheesecloth and squeeze as much of the remaining liquid out as you can. Discard the peels.

Homemade Orange Oil

Now you’ll play my least favorite game – The Waiting Game. ;-) Leave the dish of liquid uncovered on your countertop for about a week or so. Over time, the alcohol and water will evaporate off, leaving the orange oil behind.

Homemade Orange Oil

Perform a smell test once a day when you reach the week mark, to tell if the oil is ready. If you still smell alcohol, let it evaporate for another day or two. When it smells really strongly of orange, it’s ready. :-)

Homemade Orange Oil

Using Your Orange Oil

Store your finished orange oil in an airtight glass container. Add a small amount to anything you think could use some fresh orange scent or a boost of cleaning power. You can add it to hand sanitizers, mop water, homemade all-purpose cleaners, and more!

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Homekeeping Tips

  • Is it effective if we try to combine the orange oil and Lemongrass oil? Because we are trying to make an insecticide out of these two oils. Hope you respond as soon as possible, need it badly for our project. Thank you!

  • Thanks to everyone for all these great ideas! I love the citrusy smell that orange and lemon leave, so you can bet that I’ll be trying these ideas out. Appreciate everyone’s input!

  • Orange oil kills fire ants in a vegetable garden. I live in Texas, and did not want to use dangerous chemicals in my vegetable garden. I was so happy to find this recipe online: 1.5 oz orange oil, 3 oz Dawn, 1 gallon water. Shake it up, and then drench the mound. In my garden, the fire ants were completely gone one day later!

  • Would this concentrated oil be the same as “essential” oil? I’m having a hard time finding lemon essential oil in my area and am wondering if I could use this process with lemon peels. Love all of your posts, Jillee! Thank you!

    • It is very similar and can definitely be used for cleaning. However, I wouldn’t ingest the oil or use it in a diffuser. It’s just not as pure as a genuine essential oil. :-)

  • This sounds almost as good as when I used orange peel to clean the bathtub. It worked great getting scum off. The peel also worked very well as a scrubber. This recipe with the rubbing alcohol sounds much more sanitizing. Up until now I’ve been peeling oranges and freezing them for later use in my smoothies. All citrus peels are a natural air cleaner but am cautious as my cat like most cats hate the smell of any citrus.

  • If you use vinegar when cleaning, you can just toss your peels directly into a big jar of vinegar, without having to dry them first, or wait for the alcohol to evaporate.
    Then just dilute the vinegar to your usual recipe. Leave the peels in the vinegar when storing, as if you take them out the vinegar oxidises and turns brown, left in it stays a lovely pale orange. I rotate the peels that have been in the longest out, when i add new ones.

    • I have also used the white vinegar and orange peel recipe, but I did not realize that taking the peels out is what caused my oil to turn really brown. It takes a while for it to turn though. My last jar stayed light colored for almost a year before it turned. Still, I’m happy to know the reason. I’ll leave the peels in next time and rotate them as you said. I’ve used mine in just about every kind of cleaning that will hold up to citrus oil, even laundry that has oil stains. Works like a charm. Thanks for sharing.

  • Hi, I just read that one of the characteristics of isopropyl alcohol is that it doesn’t evaporate.
    How come it evaporates in the process of oil-making?
    I definitely want to try, but I must make sure I have the right alcohol. Here in France things are different !!

    • Isopropyl alcohol dissolves a wide range of non-polar compounds. It also evaporates quickly, leaves nearly zero oil traces, compared to ethanol, and is relatively non-toxic, compared to alternative solvents. Thus, it is used widely as a solvent and as a cleaning fluid, especially for dissolving oils.

    • No, any fruit washed appropriately for consumption will work for this project. My daughter works in a pub and she brings me all the lemon, orange and lime wedges that have hung on people’s glasses and would otherwise be thrown out. I compost the flesh and save the peels to make DIY cleaners out of them.

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