What to Do With Used Coffee Grounds

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!