The Last Thing You Should Do with Potato Peels Before You Toss Them

published Sep 23, 2021
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Credit: Faith Durand

It’s fall, which means that potato season is here. (Although we could argue that every season is potato season!) It’s time for all of those comfort foods made from spuds: mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, potatoes au gratin, scalloped potatoes, and more. I can’t think of another food that can be prepared in so many delicious ways.

Depending on how you like your potatoes (and what you’re making), you could end up doing a lot of peeling in your future. We’ve already made the case for roasting your potato peels (turn scraps into a yummy snack!), and now we have one more thing you can do with your potato peels.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

Use Potato Peels to Clean Rust Stains

Did you know that you can use potato peels to banish rust stains? That’s right — the last thing you should do with your potato peels, if you’re not going to eat them, is make a rust-busting cleaning paste!

Here’s how it works: Potatoes contain oxalic acid, which turns insoluble iron compounds into a soluble complex ion. That’s a really science-y way of explaining that potato peels are pretty effective at removing rust.

And so you can use your potato peels to create a solution rich in oxalic acid to clean your rusty trouble spots. To do it, soak the peels in water. Use just enough water to cover the peels; this will make it so that the oxalic acid is as concentrated as possible. Let the peels soak for a while, say, until your yummy potato dish is done baking in the oven! Next, pull the peels out from the water bath. Mix a bit of the potato water with baking soda to form a paste. 

Then, use the paste to clean rust off of scissors, knives, or even garden tools. Spread the paste over the rusted area; allow it to sit for 20 to 30 minutes; and then scrub, wash, and rinse. Like magic, your rusty tools will look new again!

What do you do with your leftover potato peels? Tell us in the comments below.