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20 Ways To Give Your Old Coffee Grounds A New Purpose

You can use coffee grounds to keep fleas off your dog, repair small scratches in wood furniture, and refresh black and brown clothing that has faded.

These Coffee Ground Uses Turn Trash Into Treasure

I’m not a coffee drinker, but I’ve made plenty of coffee at various jobs I’ve had and have thrown away plenty of used coffee grounds! So when I ran across an article talking about ways you can use (or reuse) coffee grounds, I was quite intrigued!

With the average American consuming about 3 cups of coffee a day, that means there are a lot of coffee grounds out there getting dumped in the trash. So before you throw yours out, consider keeping them and putting them to good use!

Find out what to do with coffee grounds below.

Ask For Used Coffee Grounds At Coffee Shops

  • If you’re not a coffee drinker, or don’t drink it very regularly, there are other ways to get your hands on used coffee grounds.
  • Ask at your local coffee shops if they have any used coffee grounds they’d be willing to give you.
  • Many shops, including many Starbucks locations, set aside bags of used coffee grounds for people who want them to use at home or in their gardens.

20 Unexpected Uses For Coffee Grounds

Use coffee grounds to clean your garbage disposal.

1. Eliminate Odors

Spread coffee grounds out on a cookie sheet, allow them to dry, 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!)

Another useful way to eliminate odors with coffee grounds is to make them into frozen tablets. Just drop one into your running garbage disposal to keep it smelling fresh! (See the link below for more details.)

Related: How To Clean Your Garbage Disposal With Coffee Grounds

2. Remove Garlic Odor From Hands

Keep some coffee grounds in a small can under the sink. The next time you chop an onion or fresh garlic, scoop out a small amount of grounds, rub them over your hands, then rinse for odor-free hands and fingers.

Coffee grounds can be used on acid-loving plants for bigger blooms.

3. Get Bigger Blooms

Coffee grounds are highly acidic, which makes them a great soil amendment for acid-loving plants and flowers, such as azaleas, rhododendrons, and hydrangeas. Spread coffee grounds around the base of these plants for amazing blooms!

4. Feed Your Compost Pile

Coffee grounds are loaded with phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, and copper, all of which are great additions to compost. They also release nitrogen as they break down, which helps make for especially rich compost.

There are many uses for coffee grounds in the garden -- from deterring cats to enriching your compost.

5. Feed Seedlings

Give seedlings a nitrogen boost by stirring coffee grounds into soil or a watering can.

6. Fertilize Your Garden

When planting carrot and radish seeds, mix them liberally with coffee grounds before planting. Some gardeners say you can double your harvest this way!

Use coffee grounds and olive oil made into a paste to darken and hide scratches on wood furniture.

7. Repair Scratched Furniture

To disguise a small scratch or scuff mark on your furniture, mix 1 tablespoon of coffee grounds with 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Apply the mixture with a cotton swab or cotton ball, then wipe dry. (And as with most DIY repairs, it’s always a good idea to test in an inconspicuous area first.)

8. Clean Up Dirty Hands

Make your own gardener’s soap by melting a bar of glycerin soap, then stirring 1/3 cup of coffee grounds into the melted soap. Pour the soap and grounds into a soap mold, let it harden, then use the soap to exfoliate and wash dirty hands after a productive gardening session!

Related: This Is The Only Homemade Hand Scrub You’ll Ever Need

You can even use coffee grounds to trap cockroaches.

9. Trap Cockroaches

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 in and the tape will trap them.

10. Food For Worms

If you have a vermicomposting system at home (also called a “worm bin”), add your coffee grounds to it! It’s a great way to reduce your carbon footprint while producing liquid fertilizers and compost for your garden.

Rub used coffee grounds into your dog's fur after a bath to kill fleas and make his coat soft and shiny.

11. Kill Fleas

If you’re a dog owner wondering what to do with coffee grounds, you’ll be happy to hear they can help keep fleas at bay! After shampooing your dog’s fur, rub 1 to 2 cups of coffee grounds into the fur and rinse well. Not only will this help kill any fleas that may be hiding in his fur, but he’ll feel silky smooth afterward!

12. Deter Ants & Other Pests

Sprinkle old coffee grounds to help get rid of ants, or sprinkle them directly on ant hills themselves. Used grounds can also repel snails and slugs too.

Instant coffee grounds make chocolate and chili taste richer.

13. Enhance The Flavor Of Chocolate And Chili

Adding instant coffee grounds or brewed coffee enhances the flavor of chocolate cakes and chili. Substitute strong coffee for some of the water in a recipe to give it a richer, bolder flavor.

Related: How To Turn Ordinary Boxed Cake Mix Into Crave-Worthy Cakes

14. Deter Cats From Your Garden

Mix used coffee grounds with chopped orange peels and sprinkle the mixture liberally around your garden and flowerbeds. The scent of coffee grounds and citrus will help deter your cat (and those around the neighborhood) from using your garden as their own private litter box.

Use coffee grounds and milk to make an anti-acne mask.

15. Make An Acne-Fighting Mask

Coffee’s natural astringent and antioxidant properties make it a great DIY mask treatment, especially for those with acne-prone skin. Just mix your coffee grounds with enough milk to make a paste, then apply it and let it sit for about 20 minutes. Rub the mixture gently for about a minute before rinsing clean.

16. Tenderize Meat

Add a tablespoon of fresh coffee grounds to your favorite meat marinade. The coffee will help tenderize the meat and give it a mild smoky flavor.

Related: How To Tenderize Steak So That Even Cheap Cuts Taste Incredible

A rinse with coffee grounds steeped in water will give dark hair a beautiful shine.

17. Add Shine To Darker Hair

Brunettes and darker redheads can turn up the shine in their hair by rinsing their hair with strong, cooled coffee. Or for a darker, more vibrant shine, steep used coffee grounds in 2 cups hot water for 15 minutes, then allow it to cool before rinsing your hair with it. (Not recommended for blonde hair.)

18. Fight Cellulite

Surprisingly enough, coffee is the main ingredient in many of those high-priced cellulite creams! To take advantage of those benefits at home, mix 1/4 cup of warm coffee grounds with 1 tablespoon olive oil, then apply the mixture liberally to areas of cellulite. Cover the area with plastic wrap and let it sit 10 minutes. Afterward, unwrap and shower as usual.

Use the coffee grounds and the coffee itself added to your washing machine to revive dark fabrics that have faded.

19. Revive Faded Dark Clothing

Are your darker clothes looking a little faded? Add a pot of freshly brewed coffee and the grounds you used to make it to your washing machine along with your brown and black clothing. The coffee will lightly stain the material to renew and revitalize the look of dark colors.

Related: 9 Easy Ways To Stop Colors From Fading In The Wash

20. Make An Exfoliating Scrub

Coffee grounds make an excellent exfoliator for skin, and the caffeine in coffee promotes healthier, tighter skin too. To make your own exfoliating scrub, add coconut oil, vitamin E oil, or jojoba oil to coffee grounds, then rub it over your skin while in the shower.

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What other uses for coffee grounds would you add to this list?

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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Bright Ideas

  • I don’t believe I would be dumping coffee grounds in my washing machine to clog up the filter and possibly the drain line. Be safe and strain the coffee and compost the grounds.

  • Thanks for this article – however I always learned that it can ruin your septic system to put coffee grounds down the sink drain!

    So I’m definitely not using that tip, but I have been considering taking your advice on using them for composting.

    • The grounds also stick to any grease or gunk in the drain lines and over time can act like a clogged artery with all the build up. As for putting them in the refrigerator, not only do they absorb other odors, but then softer foods like cheese will start smelling like coffee.

  • Recently I contacted you about removing clear corn syrup from a love seat. You suggested your furniture and carpet stain remover. I got everything ready to clean. When I applied the warm water to soften the syrup it started to wipe right off. YOU are my hero. You saved me a bundle by not having to call professional cleaners. It is brand new again! (So excited I did the Happy Dance.) Your tips have saved me time and again. Thanks for all your great ideas. You are the Queen of Clean! Bless you. B Karr.

  • No they don’t need to be dry . Just sprinkle them around everywhere ,the worms love them and will aerate your soil especially if you have hard clay like soil .grind up your eggshells and mix them with the coffee grounds for even more help for your soil ,have fun gardening!!!

  • Back in the days my grandma taught me about coffee grounds, she always put her coffee grounds in her fushia bby yt b by byaskets,and always around her roses. They grew beautiful plus she never had any bad bugs.Well I still do that after she passed and my flowers are gorgeous and no bugs. Everyone always ask what I am doing they can’t believe it until they try it. It WORKS!!!!

  • Recently, I had an old prescription of a painkiller that was no longer needed that I needed too dispose of. The police dept used to have a drug turn it thing, but no longer did. I called everywhere & couldn’t find any place to go turn it in. So I called my brother- in- law, a pharmacist, and asked his advice. He told me to mix the pills into a can of old wet coffee grounds & throw it away. The acid in them would take care of it and make it safe for disposal! Easy Peasy!

  • Hey, Jillee, not sure when I started getting your newsletter but it was sometime in the last year. It is great; I love your tips! I often think it must be great to have a wife like you.

    No, my wife won’t get jealous because I don’t have one … lol.

  • I LOVE using them as a shower scrubb!!!! So sad that i moved to a house in the country and learned coffee grounds are VERY bad for septic systems. :( Now I just do it every time I travel! (thank you hotel in-room coffee maker!)

  • I love this website and all the cool tips you provide to us. I wish you were able to give us a link to print the page. I would like to keep the list of things to do with the various items you discuss, but it takes a bit to copy and past to a page I can print. Hope you’ll consider this idea.

    • She said dogs not cats. but a google search tells me it can be deadly to dogs too. so better be sure to rinse it very thoroughly. I personally don’t wan’t 2 cups of grounds going down the drain.

    • OH!!!! Didn’t know this! My kitty, Simon, TRIES to sneak drinks of my coffee all the time!!! I don’t allow it, mostly because I WANT THE COFFEE! But I’ll be SURE from now on!!

  • So, I am a bit confused… #3 says that the grounds are HIGHLY acidic but #4 says they are a TAD acidic. Does it depend if they are used or unused? I use them in my worm farm and think that if they were highly acidic that the worms would not love them. But I truly don’t know… any help?

  • I combine coffee grounds and rinsed, used egg shells and place in my food processor for a fine mixture. I sprinkle around my roses and work it into the soil. You should see my roses! Beautiful and healthy!

  • I use coffee grounds in place of sugar for scrub on hands. Have done this for years. I use Dawn soap, but years ago I use Joy dishsoap (before Dawn). Love your best friend’s face, “Me Again.”

  • I use my cooled grounds for an Under-Eye treatment every morning. While I’m sipping my fresh coffee, I slap aTbl – full of wet cooled grounds on the bags under my eyes. It really helps to lessen the puffiness ! Carefully wipe away after 15 min, & see immediate results.

  • I use them with the used filter to clean my cast iron skillets after use. They are scrubby enough to clean but don’t take off the seasoning. They then go down the garbage disposal.

  • Great ideas once again. My mom used most of these ideas when I was growing up, especially the ones for gardening, she could grow anything even when it snowed. My mom used egg shells also. I think she was an organic grardener before it was fashionable. I used coffee as a youngster to dye fabric. I definitely am going to try the ant problem with coffee now. I love all your post so will be looking forward to seeing what comes next.

  • Just a remlnder for folks who have septic tanks. DO NOT put coffee grounds down your kitchen sink unless you want to be having to pay to have your septic tank pumped out really frequently as it just builds up.

  • Loved all the ideas but keeping your coffee grounds in a sealed container under the sink will cause them to grow mold. And idk if I “buy” the one about fleas lol. And yeah you can use them to dye white fabric and make it look vintage…just use the whole pot plus the grounds. Thanks for all of the great ideas I read on here all the time.

  • Hi Julie.. Can you use this same Method to actually dye or tint something to make it look Vintage?? This will not stain the inside of your washer?? Should I rinse the washer after I am done using it for that??? I just want to say Thank You for all the wonderful tips and tricks you have shared!!!! I have added most of the essential Oils for the cleaning products, and I would not change it for anything!!
    Thank You For Your Time!!

    • Yes you can! Just like your washing machine doesn’t leave behind bleach after a load of whites, it won’t leave behind any coffee. It should all rinse out during the rinse cycle. :-) Thanks Connie!

    • Kathy, I had the same problem with my hydrangeas until an acquaintance told me about this. All last summer, I sprinkled the grounds around the plants and this year was floored by how many blooms developed on all of them except one. Not sure if it was just a coincidence or not, but definitely give it a try. If nothing else, the soil will get a nice boost.

    • I had the most beautiful hydrangea blooms in the whole neighborhood! As soon as we moved in March 7th, I began cleaning out my coffee pods and spreading the grounds under the hydrangea. They were a showpiece!

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