There is more to fruit than meets the taste buds. The vitamins, phytochemicals, and fruit acids that make fruit so healthy can also be effective ingredients in homemade beauty products, natural cleaners, and other household mixtures. We’ve scoured the web, hit up our friends, and raided our own recipe boxes for ways to take the fruit out of the fruit bowl and put it to good use.
Fruit can form the base for great hair treatments, facial masks, and moisturizing balms. Create your own fresh spa treatments from fruits in your kitchen. Before trying any treatments on your face, always spot-test them on your forearm to check for any possible reaction. Leave on for 15–30 minutes. If your skin seems fine, wash your face and then apply the mask mixture, making sure to avoid the sensitive areas around the eyes. Leave on for the amount of time directed in the recipe, then gently rinse off and pat your face dry.
1. Smoothie Hair Mask.
To moisturize and condition your hair, combine half a banana, half an avocado, and a teaspoon scoop of cantaloupe. Blend the fruit thoroughly with two tablespoons of plain yogurt. Spread evenly through hair and leave on for 10–15 minutes before rinsing thoroughly. The yogurt and avocado bring moisture, and the cantaloupe and banana add shine. Plus, you can eat the leftovers!
2. Peach Face Scrub.
Put a little sugar on the fruity side of peach skins and use as a gentle face scrub. Peaches are high in potassium and vitamin A, which help to revitalize skin and keep it hydrated.
3. Darken Grey Hair.
Boil potato peels in water for a half-hour. Strain and let cool. Rinse your hair with this water after shampooing and it will gradually darken grey hair, without the use of harsh chemicals. This works best if your natural hair color is dark brown or black; don’t try it with lighter hair.
4. Papaya Foot Spa.
Rub papaya skins and pulp on the bottoms of your feet to help soften skin and soothe cracked heels. They’re rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, and the enzyme papain, which breaks down and removes dead skin cells.
5. Gentle Tropical Fruit Facial Peel.
Blend ½-cup fresh pineapple with ¼-cup fresh papaya, then add ½-tablespoon honey and mix until smooth. Pineapple and papaya contain natural enzymes and alpha-hydroxy acids that remove dead skin cells, while honey moisturizes the skin. Leave on for 5–10 minutes, and then rinse off with a warm washcloth.
6. Fruit Facials.
Some fruits work well as masks when simply mashed and applied. The alpha-hydroxy acids in some fruits will exfoliate your skin, meaning a few mashed strawberries applied for 10 minutes will leave your skin sparkling and glowing. Mashed tomato works wonders for oily skin when applied for 15–20 minutes. Watermelon works as a refreshing mask for 10 minutes, while the healthy fats in avocado make it deeply moisturizing if left on for 20 minutes. For a cleansing mask, blend half an apple, one tablespoon of honey, one egg yolk, a dash of vinegar, and two tablespoons of olive oil. Apply over your face and allow to dry, then rinse off with warm water.
Home Cleaners & Polishers
You don’t have to use expensive products or dangerous chemicals to keep your house looking and smelling its freshest.
1. Grapefruit Bathtub/Shower Scrub.
For a clean, good-smelling bathtub and sink, sprinkle kosher salt generously on half a grapefruit and rub over the wet porcelain. Squeeze out some juice over each fixture, and add more salt to the tub as needed. Rinse and breathe deeply—no chemical smells!
2. Lemon Wood Polish.
Make this in small quantities, because it should be used fresh. In a small jar or plastic container, mix the juice of one lemon with one tablespoon olive oil and one tablespoon water. Cover and shake until mixed. Test a small amount on a hidden spot. If it looks good, pour a small amount on a clean cloth and polish your wood furniture. Smells as good as name brand furniture polish but without the petroleum products those contain.
3. Margarita Rust Remover.
Sprinkle a little bit of salt on the rust, then squeeze a lime (or lemon) over the salt until it is soaking. Let the mixture sit for 2-3 hours (suggestion for passing the time: drink a margarita), then wipe down the item with the citrus peel to remove the rust.
4. Citrus Metal Polish.
Lemon, lime, and other citrus rinds and pulp/juice are high in citric acid, which makes them great for polishing brass, copper, and other non-ferrous (iron) metals. To check whether you have a non-iron metal, use a refrigerator magnet. If it sticks, your metal contains iron and you should not use citrus to polish it. Sprinkle on a little baking soda along with the juice for faster polishing.
5. Lemon Microwave Cleaner.
Nasty food bits stuck to the top and sides of your microwave? No problem! Place a small bowl filled ¾ of the way with water and a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice in the microwave and heat to boiling. Don’t open the door for another 10 minutes. By then, the lemon will have done the work of scrubbing away the debris for you; you’ll be able to just wipe away food particles with a clean cloth.
Creative uses for fruit beyond the kitchen and bathroom.
All types of citrus rinds, as well as apple peels, pomegranate skins, and other fruit trimmings, can be dried on a rack in a low oven (less than 200 degrees) to make homemade potpourri. Sprinkle a little “liquid potpourri” (available at craft stores) on it for a stronger smell if desired, or douse it with the dregs of perfume or cologne when you finish up a bottle. And don’t forget the old standby, an orange pierced by cloves, which can be hung or tucked in a drawer.
2. Banana Polish for Shoes and Plants.
Put an old-fashioned shine on your shoes by polishing them with the slippery side of a banana peel. You can also use banana peels to shine the leaves on your houseplants—not only will it make them glossy, but the banana acts as a natural pesticide and fertilizer.
3. Homemade Tie-Dye.
Unleash your creative side and make a beautiful dyed shirt using fruits and herbs. For blue or purple, use blueberries, blackberries, plum skins, black currants, or mulberries. For red or pink, try strawberries, cranberries, cherries, or tomatoes. Turmeric will give you a vivid yellow, while carrots are good for orange. HGTV has more details.
Rebecca Taggart is a San Francisco-based writer, teacher, and yoga instructor.