You love bananas in everything, from your morning cereal to baked goods. The peel? Not so much. Here’s the catch: You only think banana peels are destined for the trash. It turns out they have dozens of additional uses that can help your skin glow, refresh your wardrobe (seriously) and beyond. Here are 10 ingenious banana peel uses worth trying ASAP.
1. Polish Your Shoes
Forget about messy shoe polish. Banana peels are an all-natural way to keep your leather or faux-leather shoes shiny and sparkling. All you have to do is rub the inside of the peel on your shoes and be amazed when the scuffs disappear into thin air. Buff and wipe off any residue with a soft cloth and your kicks will be good as new. A banana that’s slightly under-ripe works best.
2. Moisturize Your Feet
Banana peels are rich with amino acids and vitamins A, B, C and E, which all work wonders on dry, itchy skin. Give your cracked heels and tired toes and boost by rubbing the inside of the peel on your soles and any other dry areas. Just rinse off any leftover goop and repeat for a few days. They’ll be silky-smooth in no time. You can delete that expensive foot cream from your Amazon cart now.
3. Reduce Undereye Puffiness
There’s a reason so many beauty and skin products are made with banana or banana peel tincture. Bananas are great for brightening and softening skin because they’re loaded with moisturizing vitamin E, which is known to help fade dark spots and scars. It’s also a potent antioxidant that can protect against oxidative damage, a significant contributor to aging. Cut the peel into smaller pieces that will fit well under your eyes. Place them on your face for 15 minutes to half an hour, then rinse with your everyday cleanser. Oh, and don’t throw out that banana—we have plenty of banana face mask ideas for you to tackle too.
4. Soothe Bug Bites
It’s a home remedy that never gets old. It’s also pretty much foolproof, considering banana peels are naturally loaded with polysaccharides, which are famous for reducing swelling and inflammation. Simply rub the inside of the peel over the mosquito bite, nice and gently. Repeat throughout the day whenever you need some itch relief. Feel free to try it on your kid’s poison ivy rash too.
5. Treat Acne
Why does it work? Banana peels are naturally packed with lectin and zinc, which according to Cosmopolitan have antibacterial traits that can help problem spots heal faster and even prevent new ones from showing up in the first place. Just gently rub the inside of the peel from a slightly overripe banana onto the affected areas after a gentle cleansing. Rub until the peel starts to turn brown and slimy, then leave it on your skin for five to 10 minutes before rinsing. Apply the peel a few times daily to see results within seven days. Just be sure to not do so excessively or roughly—that can further irritate your skin.
If you want to try using banana peels on a scar to fade its appearance, rub it with the inside of the peel, then allow the area to dry. Remove the residue with a damp cloth and repeat every day until you see results.
6. Remove Warts
Banana peels can help relieve pain and inflammation (that includes psoriasis, bruises and cuts too). And some say it’s helped them get rid of warts, since moisture-packed bananas can help soften the wart while the peel’s enzymes will penetrate the bump to its root. Tape a small piece of banana peel inside-down over the wart. Make sure the peel and wart are touching. Remove the peel in the morning and repeat nightly with a fresh piece. In three weeks, the wart should be history. Green or slightly-yellow bananas work best on warts; the enzymes in the peel break down as the banana ages.
7. Shine and Fertilize Plants
If your indoor plants are looking a little lackluster, we’ve got just the solution. Dust can make it harder for photosynthesis to occur, but a quick rub of its leaves with the inside of a banana peel can bring it back to life. Many people also use banana peels as fertilizer. You can either cut up the peel and put it in the soil with your plant, bury the whole peel or make a “tea” with the peels. Just fill a pitcher or glass of water with as many banana peels as possible and let them sit for two or three days out of direct sunlight. Then, water your plants whenever they’re thirsty with a surprise boost of nutrients. Potassium and phosphorus will not only help strengthen the plant’s roots and growth, but they’ll also assist in keeping pests and diseases away to boot.
8. Remove Splinters
Some splinters are a cinch to take out. But if you have a teary kid with a near-microscopic sliver of wood stuck deep in his hand, it can be a serious challenge. Enter banana peels, which are packed with enzymes that’ll coax the splinter out toward the surface of their skin for a painless pluck. Just tape a piece of banana peel over the splinter inside-down for up to a half-hour, then remove and tweeze away.
9. Whiten Teeth
A professional teeth whitening can cost you thousands of dollars at the dentist’s office. But did you know the naturally occurring minerals found in banana peels—like potassium, magnesium and manganese— are ripe for removing stains on tooth enamel? (I know, our minds are blown too.) Here’s how you can do it at home, plus a video for all you visual learners out there:
Step 1: Grab a banana peel, a toothbrush and your favorite toothpaste.
Step 2: Rub the inside of the peel directly on your teeth until it forms a thin paste. As much as you can, try to keep your gums and lips away from your teeth for about ten minutes. Read a book, call a friend, watch Selling Sunset and ugly cry with Chrishell. After the ten minutes are up, grab a dry toothbrush and rub the paste into your teeth
Step 3: Now, brush your teeth like normal with toothpaste and water to remove the banana paste.
Step 4: Repeat this same process once a day for up to two weeks
Step 5: Marvel at your new pearly whites!
Whiter teeth without harsh chemicals or expensive professional treatments? Doesn’t that sound ap-peel-ing (sorry, had to).
10. Cook with Them
Banana peels are the secret to moist meat. If you’re cooking something super tender and juicy like pot roast, just add a ripe banana peel or two to the bottom of the roasting pan before cooking. If you’re making something like chicken breast or turkey that’s more prone to drying out in the oven, cover the meat with banana peels while it cooks. The peels will steam, so it will help the meat retain its moisture.
11. Add Them to Tea and Smoothies
There are shockingly *tons* of edible uses for banana peels. The only caveat? You have to wash the outside of the banana like you would any fruit with an edible skin and chop off the stem and nub at each side first. You can throw a peel in your smoothie with the rest of the banana for extra nutrients, steep the whole banana in water to make tea or boil and strain a few peels to make vitamin-packed banana peel juice to add to smoothies and other recipes.