The Best Uses For Banana Peels That Go Beyond Composting

Given that 30% to 40% of our food gets tossed in the back trash can, per the USDA, it isn't any wonder that so many people are keen on not wasting food and composting the parts of anything they can't eat, like a banana peel. While this notion deserves support and admiration, it's also not the only solution — at least not where banana peels are concerned, anyway. These little post-banana-bread remnants have many uses beyond the compost pile, including some that ask us to expand our palates and put them on the menu for dinner.

Notably, the nutrient-dense banana peel has the potential to make our homes brighter, our faces less droopy, and our bodies less achy. But to reap the full benefits of what the lowly banana peel can do for our homes and bodies, we must look beyond the packaging that nature covers our afternoon snack in. In this piece, we give you the skinny on the power of the peels that you may not be aware of.

Attract birds to your garden

Birds in the garden are like miniature angels that bring song to the backyard. Hummingbirds, tanagers, and robins epitomize the whimsy and innocence that remind us why we loved being outside as kids. The challenge, of course, is to make what is an otherwise random occurrence — that is, having a chorus of birds in the backyard at the same time — less random. For that, you just need a few simple banana peels.

Banana peels attract birds in a number of ways. Because they'll attract insects, you'll create a ready supply of ants and fruit flies, which hummingbirds and other insect-eating birds love. Some birds also eat banana peels. To make these treats bird-friendly, wash the skins of the bananas to rid them of any pesticides and other harmful substances before you put them in the garden.

And here's a bonus. It isn't just ants and fruit flies that love banana peels. Butterflies love bananas too, due to the fruit's sweetness. If you have some overripe bananas, cut some of them up together with their peels, and put them in the garden too. You may soon find that you have your very own butterfly garden in the backyard.

Acne help

Acne causes pain and embarrassment for those unfortunate enough to experience it, and it's not just the acne itself that sparks these emotions. The cost of even over-the-counter remedies like benzoyl peroxide burns through cash. A study in the journal Clinics in Dermatology surveyed a group of people, finding that they spent $120 a year on average, on home acne treatments. And that's not to mention the expense associated with actually going to the dermatologist. For professionally administered treatments, patients can spend over $2800, which includes doctor visits and prescriptions, according to the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

There's a less expensive and more natural way to tackle your acne issues: Banana peels. Another study, published in the Annals of Medicine and Surgery, reports that banana peels show some promise as a possible remedy for acne vulgaris, thanks to the anti-inflammatory properties they contain. While the study concluded that more testing needs to be done to determine the total effectiveness, there are some sound reasons why the initial findings were compelling. The peels of this popular yellow fruit have antibacterial properties that clean bacteria off the skin. And the enzymes in banana peels help unsightly scars to fade. To create your own facial, cut up some banana peels and put the "peel patch," fruit-side down, on your acne. Hold the peel there until the banana peel patch turns brown. Start over with a new patch until your face is clean.

Remove splinters

Splinters hurt, plain and simple. If you've ever tried unsuccessfully to remove one from a finger, you know how elusive they are, too. For surface-level splinters, tweezers generally work well. However, many splinters run deep. Removing them takes time, patience, and a tolerance for pain. What would be really great in times like these would be if you could just push the splinter out of your finger from the inside out. If you have some extra banana peels and a few minutes of time, you can do just that.

Absorbing moisture from the banana peel is thought to make your skin swell slightly. This swelling action forces the splinter to the surface of the skin. Over the course of time, it'll work its way out of the skin on its own or come close enough to the surface to allow tweezers to finish the job. To do this trick, cut a small piece of clean banana peel into a tiny patch. Adhere the peel to the splintered skin fruit-side down. Fasten it in place with a large bandaid. You can leave it on for as long as overnight. Once you remove the splinter, be sure to clean the area to avoid infection.

Improve dental health

Anyone who has ever had any teeth whitening done can tell you that achieving movie star levels of pearly whiteness involves a mouthful of whitening trays, plus other poking and jabbing with Star Wars-type laser weapons barely disguised as dental instruments. Having a nice smile comes with a price, and we're not talking just money here, though that's true, too. Some of those methods, like the whitening trays, also taste kinda gross — a cardinal sin for a foodie, perhaps.

For those who just can't bring themselves to tolerate the taste of the bleach that goes along with such treatments, there are banana peels. They're nature's teeth-whitening trays, minus the burn and yucky taste. To create these "organic" dental trays, just cut up some banana peels and toss them in the fridge. Once they're cool, rub a cold peel on your teeth on the regular to see the benefits. The minerals in the banana peels gradually whiten the teeth naturally and without the bleachy taste. On a related note, banana peels have antibacterial properties that treat the gums for gingivitis and periodontal disease, too, particularly if banana peel extract is used. Just give your gums a good rub, as you did with the teeth-whitening exercise, for healthier gums over time.

Shine leather shoes

Most people know that bananas infuse our bodies with essential nutrients, including potassium. Per Healthline, this mineral promotes healthy blood pressure levels, stops kidney stones before they ever start, and assists with nerve contractions. But it isn't just the human body that requires potassium. Shoe polish does, too, as it turns out. Yep, the very same banana peels that keep your banana neat and tidy until you can eat it can also be the very thing that your leather shoes need to start looking perky again. Banana peels also contain natural oils and abrasives that make shoe polishing a cinch. 

When you're ready to polish your shoes, gather your banana peels. Using the fruit-facing side of the banana peel, rub the shoe down. Finish the job with a good buff with a soft cloth. Your shoes will feel happy and possibly smell good, too. Incidentally, it isn't just your leather shoes that love a little banana peel therapy. It's okay to use this remedy on your leather couch and chair, too. It works on any type of leather that's similar to shoe leather.

Make vegan bacon

In the early 2000s, Kevin Spacey starred in the movie "K-PAX," a story that saw him as an alien ready to take on all Earth had to offer. In one very funny scene, his character eats a banana, peel and all. For those of us who thought it was just about the weirdest thing we'd ever seen, it looks like the joke's on us. You actually can eat banana peels, and one of the cleverest uses of our banana peels this side of the compost pile is banana peel bacon. Marinated with ingredients like soy sauce, smoked paprika, maple syrup, and garlic, this allows the vegetarians and vegans among us to enjoy this popular breakfast treat once again.

Aside from tasting good, banana peels apparently have much to offer in the way of nutrition. According to WebMD, vitamin B6 in the peel helps elevate mood to alleviate the doldrums that come with depression. They also offer some big comfort to those who have tummy distress or who want to do more to keep their bodies cancer-free. And while our friends may look at us like we've turned into an alien if they catch us eating banana peel bacon BLTs, it'll be us who'll enjoy that last laugh and the last bite.

Itch relief

Itch relief from that jaunt through poison ivy or mosquitoes' picnic may be as close as the fruit bowl on your counter. This folk remedy has been the not-so-secret ingredient to itch relief for decades. Although banana peel hasn't yet been subject to the scrutiny of scientific inquiry as a remedy for all that makes you scratch, anecdotal evidence suggests that it provides temporary relief for irritating ailments. The effects of it are said to last only two or three hours, but the relief that this remedy does give reportedly works about as well as any over-the-counter remedy you'll find in a pharmacy.

If you have an unsatisfied itch, here's how to use banana peels to find a bit of relief until the bout of poison ivy or mosquito bites can heal. First, it helps to wash the area with poison ivy soap, in the case of poison ivy or sumac; the plants' sap contains an irritating, sticky substance called urushiol, and the proper soap can remove it from the skin. Bug bites can be washed with an antibacterial soap to lessen the likelihood of infection. Once the skin is clean, cut up some banana peel and rub the interior of the peel on the injured spots. Repeat as needed.


As natural skin remedies go, banana peel facials have both their fans and their detractors. Fans, or at least those who are open to the idea that rubbing nana skins on your face can do some good, cite the bioactive compounds found in banana peels as the reason behind this home remedy's effectiveness. Others who aren't yet on board with the idea that banana peels will soon replace Botox suggest this is questionable science at best. Botox basically freezes the facial muscles in place so that wrinkles can't form, and banana peels or even whole bananas aren't known to do that. It's also worth noting that no lab studies have been conducted on the skincare benefits of banana peels, so the final verdict on this matter may fall somewhere between never-gonna-be-Botox and could-have-some-promise.

That said, people who do like to use this home facial remedy suggest that the antioxidants, amino acids, and zinc in the peels do benefit the skin. The peels' texture also offers some exfoliating action that'll be less expensive than anything you'll find at the makeup counter in the local department store. Puffiness may also go the way of the dodo due to all the potassium in bananas. Potassium keeps your body hydrated, which ironically reverses the effects of fluid retention.

Banana peel vinegar

Move over apple cider vinegar. There's a new fruit vinegar in town, and it just might allow you to squeeze a little more life out of your banana peels before they go to the backyard compost pile. What banana peel vinegar brings to your salad is a slightly bitter yet sweet and sour taste. Knowing how to create this concoction gives you more options when it comes to making memorable salads.

It takes around two months to go from banana peels and vinegar starter to banana peel vinegar. The recipe requires you to bubble ingredients on the stove before straining the would-be vinegar with a cheesecloth. You'll need to rinse and repeat this a few times before allowing the vinegar to "stew in its own juice" for a couple of weeks. Once it's finally done, stash it in a cool, dark place until your next salad calls.

Reduce puffiness under the eyes

Here's an interesting bit of trivia for you. What do wine and banana peels have in common? If you answered, "tannins," you'd be right. You'll also be closer to understanding why banana skins enjoy a reputation as a remedy for under-eye puffiness and dark circles. Tannins function a bit like an acne astringent does, tightening up a bag here, hiding a wrinkle there, until the appearance of puffiness disappears, at least for a while. In fact, those banana peel tannins might just be the best thing for your face since the invention of witch hazel. Aside from this, banana peels help to get the blood pumping below your skin, bringing life back to droopy-looking under-eye skin. 

Using banana peels to reduce puffiness comes down to the application. This fruity beauty regimen starts with a good wash down with your favorite beauty bar. Once washed, pat off the extra water before moving on to the banana peel treatment. It's a simple swipe under your eyes with a square cut of the peel. Rub it on the skin until the skin turns brown. A massaging motion works best. Repeat the process if necessary. Take a 10-minute break, then wash your face one final time.

Vegan pulled pork

For all the benefits that come from adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet, missing out on old favorites represents a big drawback for many. The absence of our favorite recipes, like pulled pork, becomes more apparent when we're gathered at events, like picnics, where pulled pork is a popular option. Clever home chefs have learned how to make vegan-friendly substitutes by cooking jackfruit

However, there's actually an ingredient for vegan pulled pork that's more common in the grocery store than jackfruit: Bananas, or more accurately for our purposes, banana peels. The advantage of using banana peel as a plant-based substitute for pulled pork is the way in which it mimics the texture and the stringy appearance of pulled pork. Pulled pork itself gets its name because once the meat has been cooked and is ready to dress a sandwich, it gets pulled apart with forks, fingers, or any other thing that can create this dish's signature appearance.

Making banana peel pulled pork starts with pesticide-free bananas. Organic works best in this case. Just shred the banana peels with a fork, and toss them into a similar spicy flavor concoction to the one used for making regular pulled pork. Then fry them up in your bath of seasonings, and maybe a little barbecue sauce. 

Wart removal

Warts are unsightly and sometimes uncomfortable. Due to their appearance, people who have them often turn to over-the-counter remedies, like Compound-W, or if the situation is really desperate, a doctor's visit to find relief. In these cases, removing the wart tends to be a painful affair. Most warts have a viral cause, like the human papillomavirus or HPV. Despite the distress they cause, most warts actually disappear on their own in time. Some will go away within three months, while others take longer.

For those who don't want to wait that long, a remedy is to be found in the produce aisle of the grocery store. Banana peels rubbed on a wart have the potential to remove the wart in time. While, per Medical News Today, there's no scientific evidence to back up this home remedy, it certainly won't hurt to try it. Some adopters of this cure cut a small piece of peel and affix it to the body with tape or a bandaid, opting to leave the peel in place overnight. Some DIYers take to simply rubbing the wart with a banana peel from time to time instead. The potassium that bananas have in such abundance is thought to be the reason why this home removal method works, ridding the skin of warts painlessly.

Shine plant leaves

Houseplants play an important role in creating the right mood for our homes. They bring a little of the wild outdoors inside, and there's a vibrancy about them that just breathes life into our living spaces. However, a houseplant that sports dull, dusty leaves doesn't quite look as verdant as a plant that's well cared for and which puts its best leaves forward. It also won't be as healthy.

As it turns out, it takes a bit of life to add some life back to your houseplants. Life, in this case, is the skin of a fresh fruit — banana peels, to be exact. Rubbing your plant leaves and stems with the fruit side of the banana peel removes the dust that gathers on plant leaves. Anything that hinders their leaves from fully juicing up on those warm sun rays hinders the plant's ability to feed itself. Aside from this, a layer of dust on your plants discourages plant respiration, which stunts the growth of your plants as well.

Better sleep

If you're over counting sheep and tired of downing dose after dose of melatonin to get your own fair share of zzz's, then you may want to put the kettle on and brew up some banana peel tea. Its efficacy as a sleep aid is now getting some notice in official clinical trials, which monitor the influence that many of the nutrients in bananas have on sleep.

Here are a few reasons why they hold such promise. For one, banana peels contain magnesium, which helps to encourage relaxation. More importantly, tryptophan-rich foods, like bananas and turkey, have been known to zonk people out. While you may not need the same postprandial snooze after a banana peel tea as you do after Thanksgiving dinner, this amino acid will help put you to sleep. Finally, if conditions like charley horses (sudden painful muscle cramps) have kept you awake at night, you'll appreciate the potassium that banana peel tea adds to your eventide ritual. Over time, the potassium can calm down those cramps, allowing sleep to find you.