I really enjoy the challenge of trying to use every last bit of something. There are so many wonderful things you can make from things most people throw away. I make nutrient dense bone broth from the bones of roasted chicken after we’ve eaten it, and I love to repurpose many different items for eco-friendly gift wrap.
What About Coffee Grounds?
Something that never felt right to me was throwing away used coffee grounds. Many people wake up in the morning looking forward to their cup of joe and then habitually toss the grounds that give them this coveted beverage into the trash without a second thought.
As it turns out, there are many wonderful things you can do with these spent coffee grounds. Before you throw out those grounds after brewing up your morning beverage, give one of these ideas a try.
If you don’t drink coffee but would still like to try any of the following ideas, you can ask your local coffee shop to save you their used grounds. Just bring a clean container for them to toss them into.
Coffee grounds are wonderful at exfoliating your hair. After making the switch to natural shampoo some people experience build-up in their hair as the hair and scalp adjust to being cleaned with a true soap rather than the harsh chemicals that have previously stripped them of all natural oils.
To exfoliate hair, use 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup used coffee grounds, depending on hair length. In the shower, wet hair thoroughly. Massage grounds through hair focusing on the scalp. It helps to part the hair and work in sections. Once you have covered the whole scalp, thoroughly wet the hair again. Don’t try to rinse the grounds out as it won’t work. Use your shampoo to work up a nice lather. Then you can rinse it all out. A second shampooing may be necessary. Finish with your normal conditioner or apple cider vinegar rinse.
Repeat once a month or as needed. I was amazed at how light and shiny my hair felt after the first application. If you have light or color-treated hair you may want to test an inconspicuous area. I didn’t noticed any color change but it is best to make sure before you put it all over.
If you have ever tried my Vanilla Latte Sugar Scrub you know how invigorating it is. The coffee grounds and sugar gently exfoliate the skin leaving it soft and smooth. The massaging action also stimulates blood flow which is beneficial to the health of your skin. Just don’t use used coffee grounds in a sugar scrub, as the moisture will cause it to go bad, but used coffee grounds on their own have a similar effect, without the need for added ingredients!
In addition to exfoliating the surface of the skin, coffee grounds can help reduce the appearance of cellulite because the caffeine has a tightening effect.
Make a simple coffee ground/salt scrub by using 1/4 cup coffee grounds, 1/4 cup sea salt and 2 tablespoons coconut oil. Mix the grounds and salt together in a small bowl. You can melt the coconut oil before you mix it in or just mash it in. This is what I did and it worked great. You can also add 5-10 drops of your favorite essential oil. I used peppermint because who doesn’t love the smell of peppermint coffee?
In the shower, take 1-2 tablespoons of the scrub and massage it into your skin using firm pressure. Use more as needed. Focus on problem areas such as legs, belly, and derriere. Repeat 2-3 times a week. This amount should be enough for roughly 6 applications. Store in the fridge and use within two weeks.
Coffee grounds make a wonderfully exfoliating addition to homemade soap. Add 1-2 teaspoons per pound of soap at trace.
In The Garden
It is commonly thought that coffee grounds are acidic but used grounds are actually closer to neutral because most of the acidity is “washed” out when the coffee is brewed.
Composting is so easy to do and adds beneficial nitrogen to your compost pile, as well as magnesium and potassium. Coffee grounds are considered green matter for compost and should not make up more than 25% of your pile. If you are just adding grounds from your personal consumption you shouldn’t have to worry about adding too much. Go ahead and throw the filter in as it can also be composted.
Scatter the grounds over the soil in your garden and till them into the top few inches. Doing this will help aerate the soil and also give plants a nitrogen boost.
Worms love coffee grounds. Working them into your soil will help attract these garden helpers.
Keep Pests Away:
Slugs and snails, however, do not like coffee grounds. Make a barrier around plants that are susceptible to slugs and snails. The gritty texture is effective at deterring them.
I haven’t personally tried this but it looks like a lot of fun. Here is a good tutorial on how to grow mushrooms using coffee grounds.
Around The House
Absorb Odors in Fridge:
Place a bowl of used coffee grounds in your refrigerator to absorb odors. Replace them once a month, but don’t throw them away! Toss them into your compost pile. Congratulations, you got 3 uses out of this batch!
Remove Smells from Hands:
After chopping onions or garlic, scrub your hands with used coffee grounds to remove the lingering smell. This will also be effective at removing the smell of fish from your hands.
Weigh Down Ashes for Fireplace Clean-up:
If you have a wood-burning stove or fireplace, those old coffee grounds will become your best friend. When it is time to clean out the ashes, cover them with a layer of wet coffee grounds to moisten and weigh them down. This will greatly reduce the amount of ash that will float up and coat your living room when you scoop them out.
Dye Paper for Crafts:
I really enjoy scrapbooking in my free time (like in 20 years, maybe). Using coffee ground water can add a vintage, old-world look to a piece of plain white paper. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil and remove from heat. Stir in 1/2 cup used coffee grounds and let them sit for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Paint your paper with the coffee water. Apply 2 coats on each side, drying with a hair dryer in between coats. This gives the paper a somewhat stiff, slightly crinkled look and feel.
For added effect, burn the edges slightly with a lighter. This paper also makes a wonderful treasure map for adventurous kids.
This is great for school-aged kids. My kids love gathering little sticks and leaves when they are playing outside and they always want to bring them in and use them for crafts and little collections. Make this coffee ground dough and press with leaves, sticks, berries, etc. to make little fossils.
The recipe can be found here and uses coffee grounds, flour (just because we don’t eat it doesn’t mean we can’t play with it), cold coffee, and salt. I did find it took a bit more flour than the recipe calls for.
We made little round patties on a baking sheet lined with wax paper and had fun making impressions with the “nature collection” as my daughter calls it. They even pulled out some toy dinosaurs to make footprint impressions.
The recipe says to let them air dry and this worked well. If you are eager like my kids, you can put them in the oven on 200 degrees F for 20 minutes. Flip them over and bake for 20 more.
Do you repurpose used coffee grounds? Do I miss any ideas? Share below!