Creative Uses for Used Coffee Grounds

Used Coffee Grounds

Coffee is undoubtedly one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world, alongside water and tea. After all, there’s nothing better than a cup of hot coffee in the morning, especially if you know that the day ahead of you will not be the easiest.

While some people prefer instant coffee, others choose to brew it – and there’s nothing wrong with that, as everyone has their own preferences. However, they often don’t realize that they make a huge mistake in discarding coffee grounds left after brewing. Instead of throwing them away, use them! There are actually plenty of ways to utilize used coffee grounds – gardening, skincare, or haircare are just a few of them.

Want to learn more about them? Keep on reading then!

Garden Fertilization

The first thing you can do with used coffee grounds in the garden is to fertilize it with them. More often than not, the soil does not contain enough nutrients to make the plants grow healthily and at the right tempo. And even if it does, the plant absorbs them over time, leaving it depleted, which is why the garden needs to be fertilized.

Used coffee grounds are perfect for that, as they contain several minerals that are essential for plant growth – such as nitrogen or iron. Additionally, they can absorb heavy metals and prevent the soil from getting contaminated. To use coffee grounds as fertilizers, just sprinkle them onto the soil around your plants.

Pests Repulsion

Coffee grounds contain some compounds that are toxic to insects, e.g., caffeine, which is why they can be used to repel bugs from your home. Just put them in bowls around your house, or sprinkle them around your outdoor sitting areas. Some of the insects that method works on include mosquitos, beetles, and fruit flies.


Like any other organic plant material, coffee grounds are a perfect addition to your compost pile.

Usually, it is recommended to have a carbon to nitrogen ratio of 25 or 30 to 1, as that’s when the compost breaks down quickly and without intense smells. Unfortunately, most kitchen waste is high in nitrogen, which means that you have to add brown material, such as sawdust or dry leaves, to balance it out. Coffee grounds have a ratio of 20-25 to 1, which makes them a perfect choice for compost.

Flea Removal

Fleas are very common among domestic animals, especially dogs. Unfortunately, very often, the treatment is not only expensive but also time-consuming. While there are some products available on the market that help remove them, in many cases, they contain chemicals that can have adverse side effects on your pet’s health.

Thankfully, however, it seems like fleas aren’t the biggest fans of coffee, so you might want to consider using used coffee grounds as a natural treatment against them. Just rub the used coffee grounds through your pet’s fur after shampoo.

Also, keep in mind that while coffee grounds can be used as a form of treatment, they are not as effective as prescribed medication. As such, a visit to the vet might be inevitable if it doesn’t work.

Odor Neutralization

As we already established, coffee grounds contain nitrogen. Aside from being an important element in the plant’s growth process, it also helps absorb and eliminate odors.

If there were some spoiled or fragrant foods in your fridge or freezer lately, they probably left a smell that is not so pleasant. To neutralize it, put a bowl of coffee grounds in it. Additionally, you can use coffee grounds to remove smells like garlic or onion from your hands when you’re done cooking.

You can also place used coffee grounds in old socks – they can serve as portable air fresheners. Put them in your gym bag, shoes, bedroom drawers, or any other place that you feel needs deodorizing.

Last but not least, you can get a little more creative and make your own garbage disposal deodorizing tablets. All you need are used or fresh coffee grounds, Epsom salt, baking soda, and water. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and add water. Stir the mixture and form little balls out of it. Place the tablets on parchment paper until they are dry and store them in a mason jar, somewhere close to the kitchen sink.

Skin Exfoliation

Coffee grounds contain coarse particles that help remove dead skin cells and dirt from the skin, which means that they are a perfect ingredient for a body scrub.

Using them is pretty simple – just mix used coffee grounds with some water or coconut oil and use your hands to scrub the mixture directly onto your body and face. You can also add a little bit of honey and use it as an exfoliating lip scrub.

Besides, the caffeine that coffee grounds contain has antioxidant properties, meaning that it can help protect your skin from damage caused by the sun. It also increases blood flow, which contributes to improving the skin’s overall health.

Cellulite Reduction

Cellulite is a skin condition that affects most adult women – it is estimated that between 80 and 90 percent of them have it. The most common places for it to appear are buttocks and thighs – the condition makes the skin look dimpled and lumpy.

Cellulite happens when deposits of fat push through the connective tissue under your skin. Using coffee grounds topically (in a specific place or area) can help break down the fat and increase blood flow to that particular area, both of which decrease cellulite’s appearance.

Just mix coffee grounds with a little bit of water or coconut oil, and scrub the area affected by cellulite for 10 minutes. Repeat the process two times a week.

Natural Dye

Have you ever spilled coffee on yourself? If yes, then you probably know that it can leave a stain that is almost impossible to get rid of. Well, you can use that fact to your advantage and create an affordable and all-natural dye that you can use on materials like cotton or paper.

Coffee grounds can also be used to darken your hair color – it is an excellent alternative to hair dyes that you can find in stores, as they can contain chemicals that are not good for your health, and in extreme cases, can even cause cancer.

Remember that if you used coffee grounds to dye a piece of yarn or fabric that you will, later on, wear or use for knitting or sewing, you need to wash in it cold water with mild laundry detergent before you can use it.

Meat Tenderization

Meat often has tough consistency due to the muscle fibers and proteins that it contains. By tenderizing meat, you help break them down and soften the meat’s texture.

Coffee contains two types of meat tenderizers – natural acids and enzymes, which makes it quite effective for meat tenderization. What’s more, the coffee’s acidic nature can enhance the meat’s flavor.

There are two ways in which you can use coffee grounds for meat tenderization. With the first method, you add used coffee grounds to the meat rub recipe and apply the rub two hours before you plan on cooking the meat. The grounds will form a dark and crispy crust on it. The second way involves rebrewing the grounds to make coffee, letting it cool down, and using it to marinate the meat in the fridge for up to a day before cooking.

Scratched Wood Furniture Repair

Wooden furniture tends to scratch – and while there are plenty of products that minimize the appearance of the imperfections available in stores, you might want to try using used coffee grounds first.

Start by making a thick paste (mix coffee grounds with water). Then, using a cotton swab (q-tip), rub the paste into the scratch and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Wipe with a cotton rag once the time is up.

The process helps buff off the scratch and makes it less noticeable by dying the exposed wood a darker color. Sometimes you might have to repeat it a few times – just remember to wait (preferably a few hours) before applying another layer.

Under-Eye Circles Treatment

Most people have had dark circles under their eyes at least once. There are many things that can cause them, including poor circulation, fragile blood vessels, or skin quality.

While some creams are available in drugstores that promise reduction of under-eye circles, why not try some natural remedies first, such as used coffee grounds? Caffeine not only has anti-inflammatory properties, but it also stimulates blood circulation in the area around your eyes, which can help reduce the dark circles and the swelling.

Create a paste by mixing coffee grounds with water or coconut oil. Apply it under your eyes and keep it on for more or less 10 minutes. Once time is up, rinse it. Repeat the process every day if needed.

Icy Road Sanding

During winter, roads and sidewalks become covered in ice, which is dangerous not only for the vehicles but also for pedestrians. In most cases, sand would be used to make the pavement less slippery – however, many people don’t know that coffee grounds can be used as a de-icer.

While they will not melt the ice as sand would, they do add traction. Also, most people drink coffee anyway, which means that this cold weather utility will not add extra costs to your budget.


Fishermen often add a few spoons of used coffee grounds to their worm bin, as it keeps the fish bait alive for longer – coffee grounds act as food and provide the worms with quite comfortable bedding.

What’s more, some fishermen noticed that they caught more fish when they used worms that were kept in coffee grounds. This led to a discovery that is now a common belief – fish, especially bass and trout, like the smell of coffee grounds.

Cut Flowers

Without a source of nourishment, cut flowers will die pretty quickly. That’s why most florists advise adding a bit of flower food or fertilizers to their water – and if those are unavailable, then sugar or flat soda work too, as they provide a nitrogen boost.

Since coffee grounds are a natural plant food, you can use them without worrying about whether they will ruin your flowers. Simply add one tablespoon of used coffee grounds to the water, and remember to change it every day so that you can prevent mold or other issues from arising.

The Bottom Line

As you could see, used coffee grounds can actually be pretty useful, so throwing them away is a waste of potential. There are many more things that you can use coffee grounds for – the ones we mentioned above are just the tip of the iceberg.

And if you aren’t a coffee drinker but still would like to take advantage of the properties of used coffee grounds? Well, you can always ask local coffee shops, as they usually have plenty of those that they will very willingly give away. Think about it.

Barry Konkin

Barry Konkin is the founder of HotShot Coffee Sleeves. With over 30 years experience in commercial offset printing, Barry utilized his diverse printing background and creativity in developing new coffee sleeve designs that were granted Patents in both the USA and Canada. Barry’s goal is to assist businesses with brand promotion through the use of high quality custom printed cup sleeves. With an understanding of your marketing and operational objectives, Barry can recommend the ideal coffee sleeve solution for you.

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