6 Surprising Ways to Re-Use Coffee Grounds

August 16, 2010 Eight comments View all articles in Re-Use-It

If you've read our article Choosing Earth Friendly Coffee, you already know coffee is a highly consumed, heavily traded commodity that, when irresponsibly grown, has numerous negative environmental effects. You pay for the coffee you drink, whether it's an Earth-damaging, sun-grown brand or bears a green certified label. And a lot of labor went into its cultivation and production, so you probably want to get as much use from it as possible. Fortunately, coffee grounds have multiple uses and reuses, all of which take place outside the coffeemaker! You can make yourself a cup before you read further, if you'd like; we'll wait.

Beauty Uses for Coffee Grounds

  • Mix a quarter-cup of used coffee grounds with an egg white for an at-home skin-tightening mask.
  • Massage your face with coffee grounds for an exfoliating scrub that will leave you with a radiant glow.
  • Coffee grounds can add shine to brunette and black hair, improve scalp health, and prevent dandruff. In the shower, rub some used coffee grounds throughout your hair in between shampooing and conditioning. Make sure to distribute the grounds thoroughly and then rinse. Unless you want darker hair, you'll want to avoid this one, blondes!
  • To combat cellulite, mix a tablespoon of olive oil with a quarter-cup of moist, warm coffee grounds and apply to the troublesome areas of your body. Wrap the areas tightly with plastic wrap, leave on for a few minutes, and then remove and shower as normal. It's recommended that this be done a couple times a week for best results.

Coffee Grounds as a Cleaner

  • To combat stubborn grease and food remnants on pots and pans, try using a firm scrub brush and some coffee grounds mixed with a little water. The grounds are both abrasive and acidic, and might just give you the cleaning edge you've been looking for. Just make sure whatever items you clean with coffee grounds are stain-resistant.
  • If you end up inhaling or wearing most of the ashes from your fireplace as you try to clean it, simply sprinkle a layer of coffee grounds on the ashes before you start in order to minimize the amount of dust.

Coffee Grounds as a Deodorizer

  • If your closet smells too much like dirty gym shoes, simply fill the foot of an old pair of stockings with used, dry coffee grounds to make an odor-eating sachet that will last for weeks, or even a whole month.
  • You could buy a new box of baking soda to rid your fridge or freezer of unwanted smells, but used coffee grounds do the exact same thing. Simply get an empty margarine tub or yogurt container, poke holes in the lid, and fill it with used, dry coffee grounds.
  • Chopping onions and garlic leaves your hands downright pungent for hours. To get rid of stubbornly smelly hands, just scrub them with used coffee grounds and follow with soap and water.
  • Keep your sink drains clean and odor-free by pouring about a half-cup of used coffee grounds down them, immediately followed by at least 5 cups of boiling water to avoid clogging.

Coffee Grounds as a Dye

To make your own at-home dye, secure used coffee grounds in a filter or an old stocking, then soak in 2 cups of hot water for five to ten minutes. Simply increase the quantities for larger items. Then set the dye with either alum, vinegar, or soda ash.

  • If you have brown furniture that is scratched, scuffed, or blemished, put some of this dye on a Q-tip to perform a quick touchup.
  • You can also use it to dye such things as clothing, fabric, ribbons, feathers, or paper.

Coffee Grounds in the Garden

  • Sprinkle some used coffee grounds in the soil of your plants, especially rosebushes, for an organic fertilizer they'll go crazy over.
  • If you want to keep bait worms alive longer, just add coffee grounds to their soil.
  • Before planting carrots and radishes, mix the seeds with used coffee grounds to not only increase the size and quantity of your vegetable yield, but to ward away underground pests as well.
  • To keep slugs and snails out of your garden and plants, use coffee grounds as an organic repellent. And to repel cats, mix used coffee grounds with orange peels and sprinkle along the boundary of your garden. Curious dogs can be fatally poisoned by coffee, however, so use with caution.

Coffee Grounds in the Kitchen

  • Used coffee grounds are clearly a great pest repellent. And they also work for bothersome ants that usually show up in the kitchen area. In fact, ants won't cross a line of coffee grounds, so sprinkle some around any popular ant hangout.
  • If you like mushrooms and want to grow them indoors year-round, you'll be surprised to learn just how easy it is. All you need is a jar or bucket, some used coffee grounds, and some inoculated mushroom plugs that can be found at such places as Fungi Perfecti, LLC. Every time you drink coffee, place the wet grounds in the jar or bucket and add a mushroom plug. If you make sure the coffee grounds stay moist, you should begin to see mushroom growth within just a few days. It's usual for some mold to grow on the grounds, so if this happens just remove it so it doesn't affect the mushrooms.
  • If you have leftover coffee in the pot, use it to tenderize steak. And if you can spare some of your fresh grounds, add them to chocolate cake and brownie batter for bold, unique flavors.


Shane on Jan. 27, 2011 at 4:08 a.m.

Great article. If you want to learn more about using coffee grounds in the garden, check out the most comprehensive website devoted to this topic - http://groundtoground.org

Loorpy on Dec. 9, 2011 at 12:04 p.m.

I go through bags of coffee and trying to come up with ingenious uses for leftover or recycling the coffee grounds. There's some more ingenious uses for grinds here:
http://michelle-dompierre-southern.suite101.com/15-creative-uses-for-leftover-coffee-a211279. They even talk about making a body scrub out of grounds.

bea on Feb. 9, 2012 at 3:58 a.m.

Great article! As a heavy coffee consumer this is one of most useful information to green my everyday habits Thanks! :)

gene on May 30, 2014 at 1:15 p.m.

Just throw some grounds in the garden once in a while. Plants love it.

Doug on July 11, 2014 at 4:29 p.m.

I have been salvaging the grounds from our coffee pods, drying them and adding egg shells I've ground in a food processor. I spread them throughout our lawn and flower gardens to encourage worms to propagate. Worms keep the Austin soil lose and their casings are great natural fertilizer. Great stuff!

E. Daniel on Dec. 6, 2014 at 6:30 a.m.

Wow! Thank you for the pots and pan one. I burned chocolate pudding in one of my good pans (I mean really burned...the entire bottom in a thick layer) and I have tried everything I could think of including soaking it in hot water w/ dish soap and later a baking soda paste. The baking soda took some off. I just tried this and every bit came off. Amazing!

Rev on Aug. 16, 2015 at 10:43 a.m.

Worm bins. Raise red wigglers in a dedicated compost bin and dump all your coffee grounds in that. Worms love them and propagate like crazy.

philipp1717 on Oct. 16, 2017 at 2:06 a.m.

Mix coffee grounds with plain yoghurt and enjoy!

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