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15 Ways to Reuse Coffee Grounds at Home

By Angela Colley

coffee filter grindsI’m a coffee junkie. I make at least half a pot of coffee every morning, and if I’m having a particularly stressful day, I make a second pot in the afternoon. A few months ago, I started thinking about how much coffee I drink, and how the grounds end up in the trash. I don’t like waste, so I started looking for some alternatives.

First, I tried the obvious solution, cutting back on my coffee intake. That lasted about two days before I realized that I need coffee to function. Then my friend suggested mixing my used grounds with new ones to make a new pot of coffee. While I take pride in being a cheapskate, I draw the line at drinking bitter-tasting brown water.

So I did some research on reusing coffee grounds, and found the following uses for coffee grounds around the house.

Outside Uses

1. Homemade Fertilizer
You can replace your store-bought fertilizer with coffee grounds. Just sprinkle the grounds in the soil around your plants, or mix 1/2 cup of grounds and warm water in a spray bottle to make a fertilizer mist for your home garden.

2. Bug Repellent
The strong scent of coffee keeps insects at bay. You can sprinkle dry coffee grounds along the foundation of your house, or put the grounds in bowls and set them out on the patio to keep the bugs away.

3. In Compost
Tossing coffee grounds in your compost pile helps stabilize the pH level, which helps foods degrade more quickly, and more evenly. The coffee scent also helps with the smell.

4. Worm Food
Worms can ingest coffee grounds without harm. If you keep worms for vermicomposting, or to use as bait, adding coffee grounds to the dirt enables them to live longer.

5. Dumpster Deodorizer
Coffee grounds can absorb the strong odors in your garbage. Fill up an old pair of pantyhose with some dry coffee grounds, and hang the mixture on the inside of your trash can lid.

coffee grind letters

Inside Uses

6. Drain Cleaner
The gritty texture of the grounds and the strong scent helps unclog and deodorize your kitchen sink. Boil a cup of coffee grounds in a pot of water, and then pour the entire hot mixture down the drain.

7. Scratch Repair
You can use coffee to hide scratches on dark wood or espresso finishes. Mix a small amount of grounds with warm water to make a paste, rub the paste over the scratch, and wipe it off with a towel. The grounds stain the wood, and make the scratch less noticeable.

8. Refrigerator Deodorizer
Most people use baking soda for this, but coffee grounds work, too. Fill a cheese cloth with dry coffee grounds, and place the bag on a shelf in your refrigerator. The grounds absorb strong odors.

9. Food Flavoring
Used coffee grounds work just as well as fresh grounds in food recipes. You can also add a small amount of grounds to chocolate baked goods for some added flavor.

10. Household Cleaner
Wet or dry coffee grounds effectively clean heavily soiled pots and pans, and dirty countertops. Just toss the grounds on the surface, and scrub with a sponge. Test a small area of a countertop for colorfastness before cleaning the entire surface.

Personal Use

11. Face and Body Scrub
You can replace your store-bought exfoliator with coffee grounds. The abrasiveness of the grounds helps remove dead skin cells, without irritating your face or body. To use, rub the grounds on in the shower, then wash them off with cool water.

12. Hair Shine
Running coffee grounds through your hair can give it a nice sheen. Just rub the coffee grounds in as part of a final rinse, and wash them out with cold water.

13. Hand Odor Neutralizer
Cooking with onions or garlic leaves a strong odor on your hands that most liquid soaps can’t remove. After cooking, wet your hands and rub a small amount of coffee grounds on them, then rinse with cool water. This removes the odor from your hands and nails.

14. Shoe Deodorizer
Sprinkle dry coffee grounds into your shoes, let them sit overnight, and then shake the grounds out over a trashcan. The grounds soak up any odors, leaving your shoes smelling cleaner.

15. Craft Projects
Coffee grounds make realistic looking dirt, tree limbs, and beards in art projects. With a little glue, you can add a three-dimensional look to any art project. Kids especially love doing art projects with used coffee grounds.

Final Word

Finding a second life for coffee grounds can help you save money, and live a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle. I keep a Tupperware jar next to my coffee pot, and dump the used grounds in the jar every morning. That way, I have easy access to used coffee grounds if I need to wash my hands, or if I need to make a deodorizing bag.

What are some of the other creative ways you reuse coffee grounds?

(photo credit: Shutterstock)

Angela Colley
Angela Colley is a freelance writer living in New Orleans, Louisiana with a background in mortgage and real estate. Her interests include animal rights advocacy, green living, mob movies and finding the best deal on everything. She blames her extreme passion for never paying full price on two parents that taught her that a penny saved is two pennies if invested wisely.

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  • Ibcnunabit

    If you’re going to attempt to write an authoritative article on “coffee grinds”, first you should know that it’s “grounds”, not “grinds”. One only speaks of a “coffee grind” when talking about how fine to grind the coffee, not the grounds themselves. The ground coffee itself is always called “grounds”, NEVER “grinds.” Anything else should be grounds for dismissal! lol

    • dilettante

      too true, but you are missing the point

  • Natalie A

    Great article, thanks for posting this! I’m all about minimizing waste and repurposing as much as possible!

  • Chacha Gonzales

    Hi! Your article is very useful to me! But I’m just wondering, do you always consume your used coffee grounds immediately after making your coffee? If not, how do you prevent the used grounds from being rotten? Thank you! :)

    • At choo

      You can use this trick to fast-dry your used coffee grounds.
      First, find a large aluminium plate, then spread the used coffee grounds on the plate for drying.
      Next, dont put in a jar the dry used coffee grounds, just mix with the next batch of used coffee grounds (the mix will be semi-dry) and it will dry faster.

  • Elesa Godwin

    When I use to clean air planes stewardess would use coffee grinds as air freshaners for the airplane bathrooms and if someone got sick on the airplane they would use coffee grinds to absorb the smell as well

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