16 Things to Do With Used Coffee Grounds

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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. Like making nutrient-dense bone broth from a leftover roasted chicken, or repurposing scarves or brown paper grocery bags to make an eco-friendly gift wrap. These things can be expensive if you buy them anyway, so it’s a win-win!

Used coffee grounds are another great opportunity for recycling, and they have tons of uses that you probably never even thought about!

How to Repurpose Used Coffee Grounds

So many people wake up so fixated on their morning cup of coffee that they toss the grounds right into the trash without a second thought!

However, there are so many wonderful things you can do with used coffee grounds. The next time you go to throw out those lovely grounds out of pure habit, reconsider and see if you’d rather give one of these ideas a try instead.

If you don’t drink coffee but would still like to try any of the following ideas, just bring a clean container to your local coffee shop or Starbucks and ask them to save you their used grounds. If you ask nicely, I bet they’ll comply!

For Your Beauty Routine

You might want to store some of those morning coffee grinds in your shower for your afternoon pick-me-up. You can use it to make your hair shiny, as a body scrub, or even use it as a star ingredient in your next batch of homemade soap.

Eliminate Build-Up in Your Hair

After making the switch to natural shampoo, some people experience build-up in their hair. This is a natural process as your body adjusts to being cleaned without the harsh chemicals that previously stripped your scalp of its natural oils.

Used coffee grounds are great for getting rid of that extra build-up. To exfoliate your hair, use 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of used coffee grounds, depending on hair length. Wet your hair thoroughly and massage the grounds in, giving special attention to your scalp. It might help to work in sections. Once you have covered the whole scalp, thoroughly wet your hair again and use your natural shampoo to work up a nice lather. Rinse and repeat, if needed. Finish with your normal conditioner or apple cider vinegar rinse.

Repeat this once a month or as needed. I was amazed at how light and shiny my hair felt after just one application!

Note: If you have blonde or color-treated hair, you may want to test an inconspicuous area to make sure the coffee doesn’t change its color. I personally didn’t experience any color change, but it’s best to make sure before you do a full exfoliation.

Make a Body Scrub

Coffee makes a great body scrub. In addition to sloughing off dead skin cells, coffee grounds can help reduce the appearance of cellulite since caffeine has a tightening effect.

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, so it’s healthy for your skin as well.

Note that you should use dry coffee for this sugar scrub, as the moisture in used coffee grounds will cause it to go bad.

  • To make a simple coffee scrub, mix coffee grounds (about ¼ cup) with an equal amount of sea salt and 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. 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?
  • To use, massage 1-2 tablespoons of the scrub into your skin during a shower, focusing on problem areas such as legs, belly, and derriere to fight cellulite. Rinse with warm water. Repeat 2-3 times a week. This amount should be enough for roughly 6 applications. Store in the fridge and use within two weeks.

Make Soap

Coffee grounds make a wonderfully exfoliating addition to homemade soap. Plus, it comes with the same cellulite-fighting powers mentioned above!

To make an extra invigorating shower bar, add 1-2 teaspoons of used coffee grounds per pound of soap after you’ve completed the mixing process.

In the Garden

While coffee itself is acidic, its grounds are actually closer to neutral because most of the acidity is “washed” out when the coffee is brewed. This makes them great for use in the garden! Here’s how to use it.

For Your Compost Pile

If you aren’t composting, you really should give it a try — especially if you have a garden. Composting is really easy to do and adds lots of beneficial nutrients to your soil.

Used 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 own coffee pot, you probably won’t add too much if you’re composing enough other material, like grass clippings and eggshells. Coffee filters are biodegradable as well, so go ahead and throw that into the mix!

Help Plants and Flowers Grow

To give your plants a nitrogen boost, scatter used coffee grounds to amend your garden soil and till them into the top few inches. Doing this will help aerate the soil and also give plants a nitrogen boost.

Be sure to spread some coffee grounds on your flower beds as well. Hydrangeas, azaleas, rhododendrons, and other acid-loving plants will bloom better than ever.

Attract Worms

Earthworms love coffee grounds, and that’s a good thing! We want these garden helpers to break down organic matter and move nutrients down into the soil. Plus, if you enjoy fishing, you’ll grow some nice fat worms for your hook.

Keep Pests Away

While coffee grounds attract earthworms, they also act as a repellent for pests like slugs and snails. Make a barrier around plants that are susceptible to these unwanted critters, as they hate the abrasive texture.

Grow Mushrooms

Save on the farmers market splurge and grow your own organic mushrooms at home. You’ll need a lot of coffee grounds for this, so save them up!

Here is a good tutorial on how to grow mushrooms using coffee grounds. I haven’t personally tried this, but it looks like a fun project.

Around the House

Freshen up your cleaning routine with your coffee grind leftovers. You can use it to get odors out of tricky places, or even use them to make cleaning out the fireplace easier (yes, seriously!).

Deodorize the Fridge

You don’t need baking soda for this job! Simply place a bowl of used coffee grounds in your refrigerator to absorb odors, and replace them once a month. Instead of throwing them away, toss them into your compost pile. Congratulations, you got three uses out of this batch!

Clean Your Hands

Used coffee grounds are great for getting odors out of your hands after cooking. Whenever you chop onions or garlic, or work with fish, try scrubbing your hands well with used coffee grounds to remove the lingering smell.

Melt Icy Sidewalks and Driveways

If you ran out of salt to sprinkle on your porch, good news — used coffee grounds will work just as well! The acidity of the coffee combined with the grittiness of its texture makes for an ideal way to melt ice. Use it anywhere after you shovel for best results.

Clear Out the Garbage Disposal

Here’s a satisfying way to use coffee grounds really quickly! Use a very small amount to help deodorize a stinky garbage disposal. Large amounts might clog up the pipes, so be sure to use it very sparingly — and flush it down with lots of water.

Scrub Your Stubborn Pots and Pans

Got build-up on your cookware that even your heartiest sponge can’t erase? Try using coffee grounds to scrape off those stubborn bits of caked-on food. Be sure to rinse thoroughly before setting them in the drying rack. (Or buy non-toxic non-stick pans and save the scrubbing.)

Aids in Fireplace Clean-up

If you have a wood-burning stove or fireplace, old coffee grounds will become your best friend on cleaning day. Before sweeping out those 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.

Get Rid of Fleas

Does Fido have fleas again? Give him a good shampoo, then rub used coffee grounds all over his fur (just don’t let him eat it!). Like slugs or snails, fleas don’t enjoy coffee and this ought to be enough to get rid of most of them. Of course, this is no replacement to a prescription, so check with your vet if this treatment doesn’t work.

Crafts for Kids (or You!)

Feeling artsy? Try these fun ideas for your next creative project.

Create Vintage-Looking Paper

Soaking paper in coffee ground water can add an antique, 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. Then, paint your paper with the coffee water by applying once or twice per side, drying with a hair dryer in between coats. This gives the paper a somewhat stiff, slightly crinkled look and feel that’s perfect for scrapbooking.

For added effect, burn the edges slightly with a lighter. This paper also makes a wonderful treasure map for adventurous kids.

Make Fossils

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.

All you need is used coffee grounds, cold, coffee, salt, and flour (hey, just because we don’t eat it doesn’t mean we can’t play with it!)

Make round patties on a baking sheet lined with wax paper and let your kids make impressions using the “nature collection” as my daughter calls it. My kids like to use toy dinosaurs to make footprint impressions too.

Do you repurpose used coffee grounds? Did I miss any ideas? Share below!

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


72 responses to “16 Things to Do With Used Coffee Grounds”

  1. Kristy Avatar

    I don’t drink coffee but would like to try some of these -esp the body scrub idea! Does anyone know if the coffee grounds have to be USED or can I just just ground coffee straight from the can? Please advise -I guess if nothing else this approach would ensure my grounds are dry:). I’m especially interested in the body scrub. Thanks for your help

  2. Laura Avatar

    I am currently using used coffee grounds to keep spiders out of the house. The spiders do not like to walk on the grounds. And it is working.
    Also I am using essential oils to keep not only spiders out of the house but also flies, gecko, cockroaches, mosquitos, gnats, etc., and this is the recipe:
    4 drops each eucalyptus & lavender, 3 drops each lemon & spearmint.
    To help with Adrenal fatigue, I use a few drops of rosemary and a few whole cloves, I lite a tea lite on a little ceramic stove and the tea lite sits is sitting in a ceramic skillet and a ceramic pot holds the water with the oils in it and it has a lid. My home is varmit free, Bahahaha, I am so happy.

  3. NikkiB Avatar

    If you use in the shower as a hair/body scrub or in soap, won’t it sit in the drain?

  4. Christy Avatar

    I have a couple of questions about your coffee scrub:
    1. If I use “used” grounds, you say to not use sugar. But, if I use the Salt, it won’t mold?

    2 If I use “dry”/fresh grounds, can coffee like Folgers (for coffee makers) instead of using fresh ground beans? And, if so, can I then use sugar?

  5. Deb Smith Avatar
    Deb Smith

    That terrible smell? That’s why we used the Bokashi – – to speed up the composting action and create less smell. But, to each his own.

    Composting is a great way to “reverse the destruction” as you say, because the end results helps in amending the soil, which in most areas badly needs to be done. If the soil has no structure and revitalizing minerals in it, the food it produces will have little nutritional value.

  6. Paul Cheng Avatar
    Paul Cheng

    Hi Deb:

    Thank you for detailed response.
    I have read Bokashi; admirable effort but doesn’t sound like something we will adopt as a habit.
    We are in London, Ontario, Canada (between Detroit & Niagara Falls). The City has recycle bins but question how effective is the recycling. I have heard from folks who live near recycling depots of terrible smell in Summer. I’m not a fanatic but we have to and should raise recycling to national level.

    I am a businessperson, free enterprise etc. But we are harming our environment. We are over fishing the ocean and killing our forest. Would like to help somehow to reverse this destructive trend.


    Paul Cheng

  7. Deb Smith Avatar
    Deb Smith

    @ Paul: I cannot find a brand name on the thing, as it is already a few years old and has been relegated to being used outside on the back deck because it got kinda stinky! It’s just a stainless steel bucket and has a lid with holes in the top. In the lid, also, is a charcoal filter thingy that was supposed to help control odor, but it didn’t seem to work very well. I think I just did a web search for “countertop composters” and that’s how I found it. I prefer the stainless to the plastic but that’s just me.

    I also used some stuff called Bokashi to help speed up the composting process. Here’s some info for you about that.

    What is Bokashi?

    You can even use meat scraps and dairy in your pile when you use bokashi:

    This is a great place to order it:
    ** Actually, they have raised their shipping rates to an exorbitant amount so I would look for other places to order. But I’m going to leave this link here so you know what the bag looks like, etc. Some of the sites explain it as something that is only used with indoor composting bins and that you will make mostly watery, tea type stuff to use. We don’t do it that way anymore (but it did help control smell and speed things up), we use it in a pit outdoors and just sprinkle it over the top and let it set for a while and then mix it into the existing pile of grass and kitchen compost emptied into the pit. It helps control the smell and really helps get the scraps to start decomposing much faster than normal.

    There is also a product called Dr. Earth (or something like that) which is a very similar product and I’ve used both with good success. We just take a handful of the stuff and broadcast it over the pile, I don’t actually measure anything.

    I hope that’s of some help.

  8. Amber Avatar

    I make a compost tea with used coffee grounds and egg shells. Just collect them in a glass jar add water. It needs a good soak for at least a week in the dark. (I keep mine under the sink) Then I filter out the the grounds and shells. My plants love it! You can either compost the remenants, add to the garden or toss. Be advised, compost tea does not smell like roses! No deep breaths.?

  9. Denessa Avatar

    I use coffee ground to keep the cats from digging up my flower beds or going to the bathroom next to the house!

  10. Synett Avatar

    We have a Kerrigan. My hubby saves the cups for me in a plastic grocery bags in the refrigerator. Once a month I scrape out the grounds into a bowl and walk through my garden and sprinkle them around my Iris, hydrangea, roses, lilies, lemon balm, wandering jew and taro. I am not a gardener, but a friend told me to do this along great with putting paper in the flower beds. They look pretty great! And, now I’m ready to use the grounds for some beauty things!!:)

  11. Steph Avatar

    Don’t use them in your plants daily! Every week or so yes but daily will kill your plants! Too much of a good thing does eventually become a bad thing!

  12. ANTONY Avatar

    They can be used as a fake tan substitute and in Indonesia its used to keep mosquitoes at bay! So we can have a fake tan in the West and not get bitten!

  13. MCMMom Avatar

    Roses. I admit to being a little lazy here, I just toss them in the rose bed. No miracle store bought products, just used coffee grounds. As far as the plumbing and coffee grounds, check with your LOCAL plumber. Municipalities and septic systems vary..

  14. Cathy Avatar

    Wow,wow,wow, it have been quit enlightening to read all the great ideas we can do with our spent ( used) coffee grinds, I too would feel some kind of way when I would throw away my grinds or just but them in the garbage disposal, I’m very pleased, I had heard, but wasn’t convinced that I could use them for my plants. I will like to know before I do put them around my plants if it repels or attract deer? We live in a very high traffic zone lol, for deer and I would not want them being attracted more then they are right now, so if anyone knows I would appreciate that. Again I’m excited to try these new ideas and save my spent coffee from here on, also what the best container to keep them in? Thanks for all the great suggestions folks.

  15. Jamie Achee Avatar
    Jamie Achee

    My grandmother would reroast her used coffee grounds in a moderately hot oven. After they cool, she would add one teaspoon of cocoa and brew a nice pot of chocolate coffee!!! It works!!!

    1. Deb Smith Avatar

      @ Jamie: I can relate. My grandmother did something similar. She always made what we now call campfire coffee (she had no percolater or “electric” coffee brewer like today – I’m talking this was back in the 1940’s thru 1960’s) so she boiled water with fresh coffee grounds in it. It was the best coffee I’ve ever had. I’m sure it was partly due to the fact that she had pure well water, because my grandparents never had running water in their farm home. She did not add eggs or eggshells to the coffee either, as some people claim to have done back in those days. If it was too strong, we would add some of her raw milk or cream to tone it down, and as a special treat we would get to add a little cocoa powder if she had it on hand. For the very young grandchildren who visited her often, she would make “coffee milk” (that’s what we called it) because it was more milk than coffee but we still felt like we were part of the “big kids” gang.

      During the big blizzard (Atlas I think it was) in October of 2013, my DH and I also made campfire coffee on our gas stove because we had no electricity for 6 days. I was mighty glad I knew how to make it, too, because coffee is a must-have in the morning around this house! We still make if often, on weekends when we’re not in a rush, and often add cocoa for a sort of mocha flavor.

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