Trash Hacker: Orange Peels & Vinegar = DIY All-Purpose Cleaner

DIY All-Purpose Household Cleaner

DIY All-Purpose Household Cleaner

or What To Do With All Those Holiday Season Orange Peels

by Rebecca Rockefeller

Do you spin your dreidel for satsumas? Do tangerines join the other bounty of your Kwanzaa Mazao? Does Santa sneak an orange into the toe of your stocking? Are clementines part of your Festivus celebration? Whatever your winter holiday(s) of choice, it’s likely that you’ve got a few oranges in your fruit basket this time of year. They’re a delicious in-season hit of vitamin C, edible sunshine in its own compostable packaging – But you don’t have to toss those peels into your compost pile or bin. Mixed with vinegar, orange peels give up their powerful oils to create a non-toxic all-purpose cleaner perfect for zero-waste cleaning and disinfecting.

Orange Peels in the Jar, 2 Days Old

Orange Peels in the Jar, 2 Days Old

  1. Fill a glass jar with orange peels (any variety of orange works well). Wash the peels well before eating, but you do that anyway, right? You want clean oranges for your cleaner and for your body’s sake.
  2. Pour in vinegar to cover the peels. If you’re not eating a pile of oranges in one sitting, just cover the peels with vinegar as you go, filling the jar over time. When it’s full to the top, move to the next step.
  3. Cap the jar, set it in a dark spot, and wait at least 2 weeks, or 1 month for full potency.
  4. Strain the vinegar, compost the softened peels, and use the vinegar for household cleaning and disinfecting.
  5. Are you new to cleaning with vinegar? There are so many uses for the stuff, we’re not going to list them all here – Vinegar Tips has 1,001 tips for you. This orange vinegar is especially powerful thanks to the limonene the vinegar has liberated from the peels. Use caution when cleaning painted, varnished, or other delicate surfaces! 

Have you tried this? Do you have another favorite DIY cleaning solution? Please do let us know! And if you’d like to find more DIY cleaning tips, all you have to do is type “Cleaning Supplies” into our Trash Backwards app and you’ll get the following results:

Click Through For More DIY Cleaning Tips at Trash Backwards

Click Through For More DIY Cleaning Tips at Trash Backwards

Happy house cleaning!

Tags: , ,

Categories: DIY, Trash Hacker, Zero Waste Guide


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11 Comments on “Trash Hacker: Orange Peels & Vinegar = DIY All-Purpose Cleaner”

  1. December 11, 2012 at 9:12 am #

    This is great! My friend runs a “Waste Nothing” site which allows you to add tips for various materials. He uses orange peels as an example in his overview video. It would be great if you guys added this tip! Check out the site here:

    • December 11, 2012 at 9:38 pm #

      Thanks, Candice! We’ve spoken with your friend a few times – He’s got a great site! I’ll see if I can add this tip via our Trash Backwards facebook account…Best, Rebecca @ Trash Backwards

  2. Cecilia
    January 12, 2013 at 8:55 am #

    I was wondering… would the oils in the orange peel stain whatever you’re trying to clean, or is the oil concentration low enough to not affect surfaces? I’m dying to try this, as I have used the water vinegar solution for a while, but I find the vinegar smell a bit offensive and this would be a great way of further using the peels before composting them…

    • January 12, 2013 at 10:58 am #

      Hi Cecilia – I think it depends on the surface. I haven’t noticed any staining, but I’ve been using it on my porcelain sinks, tubs, & toilets and my dark tile & wooden counters. I think there’s a good chance the limonene in the vinegar would be too much for painted surfaces or delicate antique stained or varnished furniture. Sorry, I don’t know how helpful that is, but I’m hoping it’s a bit, at least. Best, Rebecca

      • Cecilia
        January 18, 2013 at 7:56 am #

        Thanks! That is very helpful!

  3. Steph
    May 10, 2015 at 2:22 pm #

    Would it be okay to put orange and lemon peels together since I’ve seen them both used as cleaners? Or keep them separate?


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