If you love your morning cup of Joe, it’s a pretty good bet you’re throwing out spent coffee grounds on a regular basis. Take a look at this list and you just might discover more than a few ways you can recycle and reuse old grounds so you can enjoy them over again!
Not a coffee drinker? These days local coffee shops offer their spent grounds for free. Find one near you, then stop by to pick up a bag or two.
- Repel pests
- Health and beauty
- In the garden
- Neutralize odors
- Natural dye
- Tenderize meat
- Make plastic
According to the EPA, coffee grounds are a safe and effective way to keep pests away. The smoke from burning used ground coffee is especially effective to send mosquitoes away because they are seriously repelled by the smell, which to humans is quite subtle. Remember this outdoor trick for your next summer barbecue.
Start with completely dry, used coffee grounds. Place the grounds in a bowl, on a plate or other flat surface lined with foil and light them with a match around the edges, the way you would light incense. Watch this video. Add a few fresh bay leaves to amplify your repellant. Set the containers(s) upwind to get the scent moving.
Repel insects and fleas
Caffeine and diterpenes found in coffee grounds can be quite toxic to insects, which makes them effective in deterring fruit flies, beetles, and other such pests. Scatter the grinds in your garden to help create a barrier that slugs and snails do not like to crawl over.
To rid your dog of fleas, try this: After bathing, rub 1 to 2 cups of wet grounds into his fur. Rinse well. This will kill fleas and also leave Fido’s hair or fur silky smooth.
Cats naturally seek out bare soil to use as their toilet space, making gardens their favorite outdoor litter box. This causes damage to plants, gives off a seriously unpleasant odor, and very unsanitary condition.
Because they don’t like the smell, you can use coffee grounds in the garden to deter cats from using your garden as a litter box. By regularly sprinkling used grounds in and around your garden, cats will eventually decide to find a new bathroom spot.
More than one website touts the joys of DIY coffee bean body scrub. According to Popsugar.com, “The caffeine can help diminish the appearance of cellulite, and the coconut oil will hydrate and smooth your skin to perfection.” Not bad, right? Certainly worth a try.
To make a coffee body scrub, thoroughly mix together 1 cup used (or fresh) grounds, 1/2 cup white or brown sugar, and 1 cup coconut oil. To use, massage the scrub into wet skin to stimulate and exfoliate. Rinse with warm water. Your skin will be soft and hydrated.
Hand scrub and exfoliant
This is so easy and also super effective to clean and exfoliate hands after time in the garage or garden. Melt a bar of glycerin soap in a double boiler set over medium heat. Once melted, stir in about 1/3 cup old coffee grounds. Pour into a mold and allow to cool fully. Coffee grounds are a natural exfoliant.
This study on both humans and animals found that applying caffeine to the skin increases blood flow and accelerates hair growth. Here’s the routine: Before you shampoo, take a handful of coffee grounds and massage them into your scalp and hair for several minutes. Rinse away then shampoo as normal. Repeat at least twice a week. This very small amount of grounds down the sink occasionally is not likely to cause problems.
Spent coffee grounds contain nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium along with a variety of micronutrients. When mixed in with the soil in your garden or houseplants (up to a 50/50 mix is ideal), coffee grounds will decompose releasing the nutrients. This makes for a good slow-release fertilizer to boost acid-loving plants and trees such as:
- Beech Trees
- Bleeding heart
- Blueberry bushes
- Dogwood Trees
- Japanese Iris
- Magnolia Trees
Coffee grounds help attract worms, which are great for your garden. If you love to fish and have your own worm bed, you may already know that mature horse manure and coffee grounds make the richest, finest worm bed mix. You’ll grow some mighty fine bait once you start adding spent coffee grounds.
If you don’t have time or need for those spent grounds right now, compost them for later. Adding compost to your garden can significantly improve the health of your plants. Coffee grounds can help increase nutrient levels and decrease the greenhouse gas emissions of your compost. This study found that compost made with coffee grounds and kitchen waste was richer in nutrients than compost made with waste alone. Another study determined that compost containing 40% coffee grounds produced the best quality compost.
According to ScienceDirect, spent dry coffee grounds help absorb and eliminate odors. Spread the wet, used coffee grounds on a baking sheet in a thin layer and place them in a 250F oven until dry. Once finished, you can store them in an open jar and place it anywhere there may be unpleasant odors in your home (kitchen cabinets, the refrigerator, the bathroom, near the litter box). Let the grounds hang out and be amazed at how much odor they absorb.
Place a bowl of coffee grounds in the refrigerator to neutralize odors. Fill old socks or pantyhose with coffee grounds, tie them off, to make air fresheners. Put them in shoes, gym bags, and drawers to deodorize. Keep a jar of dry used grounds under the sink to use as a scrub for your hands after chopping garlic or onions to neutralize that odor.
Ever suffered an ugly coffee stain on a clean, white shirt? Bingo! Coffee grounds offer an inexpensive and all-natural way to color cotton, rayon, linen, and paper. Simply rewet dry coffee grounds and use them to dye paper or fabric, even darken brunette hair.
Make a thick paste of used coffee grounds and water. Spread this over scratches on wood furniture, then allow to sit for 10 minutes or so then wipe away with a clean cloth. Notice how the coffee has dyed the exposed wood to make it less noticeable. Need it darker? Reapply until you’re happy with the results.
Coffee contains natural acids and enzymes which are especially effective at tenderizing meat. How? Add the grounds to your favorite dry rub. Apply the rub to the meat at least 2 hours before cooking. The grounds along with the dry rub will get cooked into the meat creating a dark, crispy crust or “bark.”
Another option: Re-brew the spent coffee grounds to make coffee. Allow to cool, then use it to marinate meat in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
While not a DIY project, this is so fascinating, I just have to share. Forbes recently did a story about a small start-up Ukranian company that is making fabulous eyeglasses frames from coffee grounds, instead of petroleum-based plastic. Coffee grounds are mixed with flax and vegetable oil, molded into bricks, and cut using a computer. The glasses frames biodegrade 100 times faster than standard plastic frames, and unlike petroleum-based plastic, these frames transform into natural fertilizer for new plants when put into the soil.
Isn’t that remarkable!