How To Recycle Used Coffee Grounds

used coffee grounds

I’m not a coffee drinker…but I’ve had plenty of practice making it at various jobs in the when I ran across an article talking about the many uses of used coffee grounds I was intrigued! Who knew that brown gunk was actually good for something?! :-)

I looked into it further and found that the average American consumes about 3 cups of coffee a day. That’s A LOT of used coffee grounds! Before you throw them in the trash, consider some of the following very useful and resourceful options!

used coffee grounds

Odor Eater

  • Dry the grounds out on a cookie sheet and then put them in a bowl in your refrigerator or freezer to neutralize odors. This also works well to get rid of Mothball smells from closets or campers!
  • Keep some grounds in a small can under the sink, then the next time you chop an onion or fresh garlic, scoop out a small amount, rub them over your hands and rinse. Odor gone!

used coffee grounds

Gardener’s Helper

  • Coffee grounds are highly acidic, so spread them generously over the flower beds of acid loving plants, such as azaleas, rhododendrons, and Hydrangeas, for amazing blooms!
  • Give seedlings a nitrogen boost by stirring grounds into soil or a watering can.
  • When planting carrot and radish seeds, mix them liberally with coffee grounds before you plant. You will double your harvest!
  • Coffee grounds are loaded with phosphorous, potassium, magnesium and copper. They’re a tad acidic and as they degrade they release nitrogen which makes for especially rich compost.
  • Make your own gardeners soap by melting a bar of glycerin soap and adding 1/3 cup coffee grounds, reshape bar in a mold and use. Great scrubbing and exfoliating action at the same time!

used coffee grounds

Fisherman’s Friend

  • If you like fishing and have a wormbed at home, add coffee grounds! The BEST worm bed mix is aged horse manure and coffee grounds. You’ll grow some nice fat ones for fishing!

used coffee grounds
Insect Deterrent

  • Sprinkle old grounds around places you don’t want ants, or on the ant hills themselves. Used grounds also repel snails and slugs.
  • Fill a can or jar with an inch or two of moistened coffee grounds, then line the container’s neck with extra-sticky double-sided tape. The scent will draw cockroaches into the trap.

used coffee grounds

Dogs And Cats

  • Mix used grounds with chopped orange peels and sprinkle liberally around your garden and flowerbeds to keep your cat from using your garden as a restroom.
  • After bathing your dog, rub 1 to 2 cups of coffee grounds into his fur and rinse well. Not only does this kill fleas, but will make his fur silky smooth.

 used coffee grounds

Scratched Furniture Repair

  • Mix 1 tablespoon coffee grounds with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Apply with a cotton swab or cotton ball, wipe dry. Test in an inconspicuous area first.

used coffee grounds

Flavor Enhancer

  • Adding a tablespoon of fresh coffee grounds to meat marinades will tenderize the meat and give it a mild smokiness. Coffee also enhances chocolate cakes and chili. Substitute strong coffee for some of a recipe’s water for a richer, bolder flavor.

used coffee grounds

Coffee as Cleaner

  • Scour Power. For a quick abrasive cleaner – mix equal parts of old coffee grounds and baking soda. Use to scour away grease and grime from your pots and pans. Rinse thoroughly. (Be careful of using this on surfaces that are susceptible to stains!)
  • Sharpen garbage disposal blades by adding 1 tablespoon of grounds to running disposal (with water running also!)
  • Before cleaning out your fireplace, sprinkle damp coffee grounds liberally over the ashes to cut down on airborne dust as you sweep them up.

used coffee grounds
Health and Beauty

  • Cellulite Fighter.  Not sure if I “buy” this one….but…coffee IS the main ingredient in many of those high-priced cellulite creams. Simply mix 1/4 cup warm coffee grounds with 1 tablespoon olive oil and apply liberally to problem areas, wrap with plastic wrap. Let set for 10 minutes, unwrap and shower normally. Couldn’t hurt!
  • Exfoliating Scrub. The caffeine in coffee helps stimulate skin cells and promotes healthier, tighter skin. Simply add coconut oil, vitamin E oil or jojoba oil to coffee grounds and massage it on in the shower.
  • Highlight Hair Naturally. Brunettes and darker redheads can turn up the shine in their hair by rinsing dry, clean hair with strong, cooled coffee. Steep used coffee grounds in 2 cups hot water for 15 minutes or so and then rinse through hair for a darker, more vibrant shine. You can also pour 1-2 tablespoons straight into your conditioner. Not recommended for blonde or silver hair.
  • Clear up acne. Coffee has natural astringent and antioxidant properties which make it a great cleanser and toner for your face. Just mix your coffee grounds with enough milk to make a paste. Rub it on for about a minute, then relax and let it sit for about 20 minutes. Rinse clean.
  • Freshen up your autumn wardrobe. Add a pot of freshly brewed coffee and the grounds to a load of wash, toss in any brown clothing and walk away. The coffee stains the material and keeps dark colors looking great.

used coffee grounds

Coffee Crafts

  • Give paper an antique look by first crinkling it up into a ball, smoothing it out, then dipping it in a slurry of coffee grounds and water. Allow them to soak for a minute or two, gently blot excess coffee off, then let dry and brush off the grounds.
  • Steep the grounds in boiling water to make your own dye for fabric or easter eggs. Even homemade “Henna” Tattoos.
  • Make your own pin cushions with dried out used coffee grounds as a filler. Helps keep the pins rust free!

Miscellaneous Fun!

  • Make your own fun treasure stones from coffee grounds, salt, cornmeal and water.
  • Beards for Halloween costumes are a cinch with a little honey and dried coffee grounds. Warm up a little bit of honey in the microwave or on the stove. Spread the warm (not hot!) honey over the face in the pattern of a mustache and beard. Spread dried coffee grounds over the honey. Washes off easily after trick-or-treating is done.

used coffee grounds

Not an avid coffee-drinker? Check your local coffee shop. Places like Starbucks actually give bags of used grounds away to people who use them for their home and gardens.


Those little brown granules sure can do a lot more that just perk up your morning! I hope some of these were as helpful to you as they were to me.

What uses for coffee grounds would you add to the list?


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  1. Bobbie says

    Thank you for these suggestions. I have used cold coffee as a marinade but hadn’t thought abut using the grounds.

  2. MisChef says

    If you live out in the country like me, be very careful about these soaps, scrubs, facial masks and other applications…particularly if you use a septic tank.

    I suggest that you DON’T put coffee grounds down your kitchen disposal, (or down your shower drain!) It clogs everything up and you’ll have to get it professionally cleaned, which is very expensive! The worst things for your plumbing is coffee grounds (and egg shells, too), but I see “tips” that tell folks to put them down their drains all the time!

    • says

      Hello Mischef,

      I have heard about clogging your drains with just about anything from egg shells to dental floss thrown in the toilet but I didn’t know coffee could have that effect as well. It is a good thing Jillee has suggested so many interesting ways to recycle the grounds.

      Yours faithfully,

      Melissa Conaly
      Marketing Operative at Carpet Cleaning Experts Melbourne

  3. Cory says

    Expired Medications:
    I saw this use of Good Morning America and really didn’t believe it would work…tried it and it does! You should never flush expired medication down the toilet or throw them in the trash. Use used coffee grounds to dissolve the expired meds. Put the pills into a ziplock bag full of used grounds (doesn’t take much – if using a sandwich size bag, fill 1/2 the bag with grounds and leave for 24 hours (usually works in less). Then you can throw them (grounds and dissolved pills) into the trash safely.

    • Rebecca Ednie says

      Please never do this! Do you really think that because a medication is dissolved that it has lost its potency? It has simply changed form not lost strength!! All medications must be disposed of properly by hazardous waste sites or by a pharmacist. Most pharmacies, in Canada anyway, accept expired or unnecessary medications for proper disposal.

      Of course you should always complete medications as directed especially antibiotics but sometimes you are DIRECTED to stop taking something or its an as needed medication you no longer need.

      • L.A. says

        my pharmacists TOLD me to put expired meds in a ziplock bag of coffee grounds and throw in the trash. my pharmacy can’t take the meds back. CVS will take tim back, but u got to pay $3 per med which is simply outrageous!

    • Karen says

      If you can find one in your area, there are doctors who will take back medication to donate it to the poor. Or they take them to 3rd world countries.

  4. Elizabeth says

    We are avid coffee drinkers and I’m becoming an avid gardener. My neighbor told me I’m verging on a micro farm. I can attest to coffee grounds in the garden for nitrogen and sprinkled around the base of plants to deter slugs and earwigs. The bugs don’t like walking on the coffee crystals. just don’t overdo it because they can hurt the plants-remember in gardening there is such a thing as too much. You can add the grounds to your compost or mix them into the soil when you prep your garden beds too.

  5. mary knight says

    I throw coffee filter & all into my compost. Tons of worms! I will soon try the other uses you have brought to us here. Especially the one for antiqueing newspaper, which I use for paper mache; it will be a good look.

  6. Amethyst Samia says

    Don’t the grounds clog the drains? I’ve wanted to try the exfoliant in the shower for a long time but can’t get an answer to the question. Seems it would clog the kitchen drain too. If not, count me in on using them! Great blog…every day!

    • says

      From what I’ve read the ground will clog your drains unless they are rinsed down with very hot water. What I would suggest is covering your drain with some kind trap if you want to use the exfoliant.

  7. Kim T says

    Be very careful where you spread the used coffee grounds if you have dogs. We had a little one get into our compost and die, and our vet told us that coffee grounds are more lethal than chocolate.

  8. Janet T says

    My kitchen designer says that the best way of keeping your kitchen drain clean and free-flowing is to rinse your used coffee grounds down the hole (garbage disposals aren’t common in the UK). But after your tip I’ll put half around my hydrangeas!

    • sam says

      Using coffee grounds for drain cleaner only works with course ground coffe; smaller/finer grounds actually clogs drains.

    • Debbe says

      “Pin it” is if you want to save the blog on Pinterest, you can “pin it” to your Pinterest. Can help you find it easily later for reference or re-reading.