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?



Enjoy This Post? Never Miss Another!

Subscribe to Jillee's FREE email newsletter and receive more great tips and ideas!



  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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

    • Alison says

      HA!! It almost seems like everyone’s freaking out about meds and such, maybe, because they forgot to take them lol. Geez people, chill out. At least they don’t have to worry about getting rid of their “chill pills”….those will DEFINITELY get used :) Don’t worry, me too :) All in good fun…but seriously…. Jillee is just suggesting different ideas and trying to make our lives a little cleaner, safer, more natural and less expensive….

      • Kathie says

        Sometimes it’s not because we forget to take them but for other reasons, like bad side effects, the medication isn’t helping what it is meant to. My medicine cabinet is full and needs to be properly taking care of, my Dr. told me that our hspt will take them back also.

  8. CTY says

    I have an Uncle who is a plumber. He said pouring scorching hot coffee down the sink took care of build up from soaps, fats & oils. He would make a pot of coffee every so often just to pour down the drains. He also said–don’t believe them when they say pour the grounds down the drain. He said grounds should be buried by the roses.

  9. Mary Beth says

    My family owned (and still does) a livestock market. In the late 50′s and 60′s, my grandmother ran the cafe which had painted cement floors. Through the course of the day the floors got very dirty and dusty. We saved the coffee grounds in a bucket right below the coffee maker. At the end of each day, we sprinkled the damp grounds on the entire floor and began sweeping. I never thought anything of it at the time, but now I know Grandma was making her own sweeping compound.

  10. Cheryl R says

    You can use coffee beans (or probably fresh or used grounds) to sniff (to ‘cleanse’ your sniffer!) in between scents you are trying to decide on – such as perfumes or candles, etc.

  11. Angel B says

    When I was teaching preschool, I put Dinosaurs in “treasure rocks” and hid the rocks around the outside our school. Then the kids and I would go on an archaeological dig to find the rocks and see what was hidden inside. It helped to ram home the idea that even though dinosaurs are not around today, we can still find their bones hidden in stone and that is how we know about them. It was the coolest week in my class and the kids would go home and impress their parents by telling them where we can find dinosaurs today.

  12. says

    Thanks for the tips on the uses of coffee, will definitely try it out. Jillee – I just found your blog the other day and love every minute of reading it! I have always been a fan of homemade products so I’ve already spent hours reading and pinning.
    I remember as a kid we would use everyday foodstuffs for colouring homemade finger paint or glue – coffee works wonders and gives it a rich brown colour!
    Another tip for using used coffee grounds – when cleaning your drain with hot coffee, don’t use new grounds to make the coffee. Simply boil water and soak used grounds overnight. You will be amazed at how much flavour was still in them! Re-heat the coffee and pour down the drain.

  13. Deb Phillips says

    I have been sprinkling my used coffee grounds on my lawn as a lawnfood! It seems like now a days the local police (mine do) are doing a take back once a year. You can take all your old (expired or not) medications to the police dept. and drop it off, NO QUESTIONS ASKED! This is a way to get them off the streets, they are working with the DEA. Check with your local police and see if they do this!

  14. Sally Riojas says

    I just wanted to Thank You for all the wonderful Helpful hints, what great idea’s everyone has sent in. I am going to use the one with the coffee grounds for are dog Koda to prevent Flea’s.
    The problem we had was with mice and rats under our house, because we live in Oregon and we have the Alsea River in our back yard. Well we found an answer to our problem. Throw about 1/4 box of Moth Ball’s under your house. It works great, it also keeps the stray cats away also. They hate the smell. You can use as much as you want, it really depends on how much of the moth ball Oder you want to smell. I hope this will help someone else who has the same problem we had.

  15. Casey says

    My boyfriend has been adding coffee grounds to my cherry tomato plants and they are going CRAZY! They are twice as tall as they were supposed to be and many of the tomatoes are WAY bigger than I have ever seen cherry tomatoes get.

  16. Jacque says

    I moved across the country one time for a job and my refrigerator was in storage for 4 months. I sprinkled dried coffee grounds in the floor of the fridge and freezer before it was loaded on the moving van. It easily vacuumed up when I finally got settled and there was no empty refrigerator smell at all. Happily, I’m back in Arizona now. Left the fridge and the ex-husband in Florida:-)

    • Nancy McManus says

      Jacque, We left meat in our beach house refrigerator and didn’t go back for several weeks. The smell was vile, and I tried vinegar, baking soda, all the usual suspects. Even stuffed it with newspaper to absorb the smell. Nothing worked. I tried your suggestion, expecting the vile smell to just be layered with coffee smell. One or two weeks later, the smell is gone. And it doesn’t smell like coffee. Now I leave a couple of bowls of coffee grounds (fresh, not spent) in the ‘fridge and freezer. No more funky freezer smell, either. How have I never heard of this before?? Thanks.

  17. Carl Ruzycki says

    Be nice to the readers and know what is being said has some truth, more just pretty pictures. I ask a simple question. How can coffee grounds be highly acidic in one sentence and then a tad acidic in the next sentence of this blog. Coffee grounds are not acidic after they have been brewed to make coffee. They are pH neutral. Please do a little research before perpetuating the myths.

    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!
    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.

    The truth
    Link – In fact, coffee grounds are generally close to pH neutral (between 6.5 and 6.8). As it turns out, the acid that is contained in coffee is water-soluble, so the acid is essentially washed out of the grounds when coffee is made, which is why you need an acid reducer but your coffee grounds don’t.

  18. says

    Its like you read my mind! You seem to know a lot about this, like you
    wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with some pics to drive the message home a bit, but instead of that, this is magnificent blog.
    An excellent read. I will definitely be back.

  19. says

    Fortunately, it is not difficult to find such vendors in the Michigan area.
    You can also use high-density fiber board, however, when high-density board gets wet it completely
    deteriorates, so if you have a roof leak then the roof renovations could be rather expensive.
    The required licenses that are needed for a roofing contractor
    in each area of the state and country are going to be different.

  20. says

    Undeniably believe that which you stated. Your favorite justification seemed to
    be on the net the easiest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I definitely get irked while people consider worries that they plainly
    don’t know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top
    and also defined out the whole thing without having side-effects , people
    could take a signal. Will likely be back to get more.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *