10 clever ways to reuse coffee grounds


Americans consume an average of two cups of coffee daily, primarily using single-cup brewers, though drip coffee makers remain popular. Regardless of the brewing method, the question of what to do with used coffee grounds persists. These grounds are not merely waste but valuable for various practical, eco-friendly applications. They can enhance garden health, elevate beauty routines, and serve as natural cleaning agents, offering solutions to many household challenges.

How to use coffee grounds around the house

If you ever find yourself with a surplus of used coffee grounds, here are some clever ways to repurpose them.

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Mild fertilizer

Coffee grounds contain essential minerals beneficial for plant growth, such as nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. These nutrients can contribute to the fertility of the soil but won’t be enough to sustain the health of your plants over time. Just think of it as an inexpensive, mild, organic fertilizer that will give your plants a slight nitrogen boost. To use in the garden or potted plants, sprinkle the used coffee grounds around your plants and work it in a half inch to a depth of 4 inches. Don’t go overboard with it, though. Like other soil amendments, more isn’t always better.

Soil conditioner

Used coffee grounds are an excellent soil conditioner due to their nitrogen content and ability to improve soil structure. When incorporated into garden soil, they can help enhance drainage, water retention, and aeration, fostering healthier plant growth. Mix a thin layer of coffee grounds into the top few inches of soil to utilize coffee grounds as a soil conditioner. This can help feed soil microbes and improve the soil’s overall quality.

Compost booster

Balancing carbon (browns), nitrogen (greens), moisture, and air is essential to create high-quality compost. Fortunately, used coffee grounds are an excellent addition to compost because they contain nitrogen, a vital nutrient for the microorganisms that break down organic matter. When coffee grounds are added to compost, they help speed up the decomposition process, making the compost richer in nutrients essential for plant growth. Mixing coffee grounds with carbon-rich materials such as leaves, straw, or paper is recommended to maintain a healthy compost balance. This combination enhances the overall structure and aeration of the compost, facilitating faster breakdown and preventing the compost from becoming too wet and compacted.

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Natural pest repellent

Due to its pungent odor and chemical properties, coffee grounds can be used as a natural repellent against various pests. To use coffee grounds as a pest repellent, sprinkle the dried grounds around plant bases or areas where pests are a problem, providing a barrier that pests are likely to avoid. However, it’s important to note that coffee grounds are not universally effective against all insects. They offer a simple, eco-friendly approach to pest control in certain situations.

Odor reducer

Used coffee grounds are more than just helpful in the garden; they’re a natural odor reducer. Their high absorbency and strong fragrance, combined with coffee’s acidity and potent aroma, create a powerful solution for freshening your home. You can effectively eliminate lingering smells by placing a small container of dried used coffee grounds in your refrigerator or a musty cabinet. You can also use coffee grounds in sachets to deodorize shoes or as a scrub to remove body odors.

Cleaning scrub

Used coffee grounds are an excellent option for eco-friendly cleaning. They have an abrasive texture that can effectively remove buildup from various surfaces without causing any damage. You can use this natural abrasive quality to clean hard surfaces like countertops, cooking ranges, and utensils. Mix some used coffee grounds with a little water or mild soap to create a simple scrub. This mixture can help you lift grime and residue efficiently from kitchen surfaces and appliances. Moreover, the natural oiliness of coffee grounds gives surfaces a slight polish, making them look refreshed and clean.

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Rejuvenate wood furniture

Coffee grounds can give your wooden surfaces a deep and rich color, helping to rejuvenate them. To get started, you only need to brew some coffee and let it cool down. Then, strain out the coffee grounds or leave them in for a more textured finish. Next, apply the coffee solution onto the wooden surface using a brush or cloth, focusing on areas that need restoration. This will not only give your furniture a refreshed look but also help to hide minor scratches and blemishes, making it look as good as new.

Exfoliating skin care treatment

The natural chemical properties and abrasive texture of used coffee grounds make them perfect for removing dead skin cells, promoting smoother, more radiant skin. The caffeine content in coffee is also beneficial as it can increase blood flow, which helps to rejuvenate and tighten the skin, reducing the appearance of cellulite when massaged into the skin. Mix used coffee grounds with a carrier oil such as coconut, olive, or almond oil to create a homemade exfoliating scrub for your body. This mixture can be gently massaged into the skin using circular motions, then rinsed off, leaving the skin feeling refreshed and soft. Avoid using on thinner skin, like that on your face.

Under-eye care

Uncover the natural solution to under-eye puffiness and dark circles with used coffee grounds. Their caffeine content and anti-inflammatory properties make them a safe and effective choice. Caffeine can help constrict blood vessels beneath the skin, reducing swelling and the appearance of dark circles under the eyes. One popular method involves chilling the used grounds in the refrigerator, mixing them with a little water or honey, and applying the paste gently beneath the eyes. After letting it sit for several minutes, simply wash it off.

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Flavor enhancer

People commonly use coffee grounds to brew coffee, but they can also employ them in cooking to flavor both sweet and savory dishes. Incorporating coffee grounds into meat rubs or marinades imparts a rich, earthy taste. Additionally, bakers can mix them into baked goods such as brownies and cakes to add a subtle coffee flavor that balances sweetness with a hint of bitterness. Coffee grounds can also enhance homemade sauces or stews by adding depth and complexity to the overall taste.

Are coffee grounds safe to consume?

Coffee grounds are safe to eat in moderation, offering health benefits like antioxidants and dietary fiber, similar to brewed coffee. However, excessive consumption can cause side effects including insomnia, nervousness, and digestive irritation due to their abrasive texture and high caffeine content. Additionally, coffee grounds are toxic to pets and should not be consumed by animals.

Can you reuse coffee grounds?

It is possible to reuse coffee grounds, but the quality of the coffee may not be as good as the first use. When reused, coffee grounds usually have a weaker flavor and strength because most of the essential oils and flavors are extracted during the initial brewing process.

The next time you brew coffee, remember that the grounds can do much more than make a great cup. Using spent coffee grounds in your garden, home, and beauty routines can benefit your plants and skin. This practice contributes to a more sustainable lifestyle, allowing you to reduce waste, save money, and take advantage of coffee grounds’ natural properties.

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