13 Remarkable Things You Need to Know About How to Reuse Coffee Grounds

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 (and 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.



Coffee and Compost


Smoke out mosquitoes

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 new summer barbecue.

Start with completely dry, used coffee grounds. Place the grounds in a bowl or other flat surface lined with foil and light them with a match, the way you would incense. 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.

Body scrub

More than one website touts the joys of  DIY coffee bean body scrub. According to, “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.

Natural fertilizer

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, coffee grounds will decompose releasing the nutrients. This makes for a good slow-release fertilizer.

Worm growth

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.

Rich compost

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.

Neutralize odors

According to ScienceDirect, coffee grounds help absorb and eliminate odors. 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.

Natural dye

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.

Hand scrub and exfoliant

This is so easy but 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 abrasive.

Meat tenderizer

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.

Hair growth

This study on both humans and animals found that applying caffeine to the skin increases blood flow and accelerates hair growth. Here’s 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.

Scratch cover

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.

Make plastic

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!


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8 replies
    • Mary Hunt says:

      Marilyn … In my research I found the field very divided on this! Plumbing experts are horrified that anyone would choose to put coffee grounds down the drain, while others in related fields swear by it as a great way to maintain free-running drains! So I took the safe route and simply left that out of the post. I have no experience either way and cannot advise one way or the other.

  1. Vivian Freppon says:

    For the hair growth, and even some of the others, are they used coffee grounds or fresh? Love you dearly! Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us!

    • Mary Hunt says:

      Either way, Vivian. There’s a .lot of the good stuff left in used coffee grounds. However, I must confess that if I were to do this, I’d probably go with fresh unused coffee grounds, hoping to get the most benefit and as quickly as possible.

  2. Suzanne says:

    We only started using coffee grounds in our garden last year, in just a few beds, and the vigor and growth of the plants in those beds was amazing. So this year we put them in all of our beds and our vegetable garden. We had no pest or disease issues and our harvest has exceeded anything we’ve ever had before. Used coffee grounds are like gold for gardening. And you can get them for free from places like Starbucks in addition to saving the grounds from your own kitchen.

  3. Julie says:

    Stinky gasoline on your hands after a fill-up?
    Cup of coffee in the cup holder?
    Dribble a bit of coffee on your fingers and rub over your hands, and the gasoline odor disappears as the coffee evaporates!

  4. Bronson Beisel says:

    I have one more use for coffee grounds. We have hydrangea in our garden, and I spread the coffee grounds around the hydrangea. I understand that it helps to change the color of the hydrangea. We did this for a couple of years with a blue hydrangea, and in the third year, it bloomed in deep purple that was so brilliant, people would stop at our house to ask us what variety of hydrangea we had.


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