1001 (or several) Uses for Coffee Grounds

Most of us have leftover coffee grounds every morning.  Have you ever wondered what you could do with them other than tossing them in the trash?  It turns out there are ways to put them to good use.

Boost you compost pile:

Adding used coffee grounds and paper coffee filters to your compost helps boost nitrogen component that is needed to break down plant matter.  Coffee grounds also contain phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.  They also help prevent the growth of some molds.

Deter pests in the garden:

Sprinkling coffee grounds around plants can deter wasps, fleas, mosquitoes, as well as slugs and snails.  Some rabbits and cats even shy away from coffee grounds.

Coffee grounds as fertilizer:

Give your garden plants and potted plants a boost with coffee grounds.  Add them directly to the soil or sprinkle a thin layer on top so they will decompose into the soil.  Do not add too thick a layer or the coffee grounds will form a dense layer on the surface of the soil that is impenetrable to water. Also, coffee grounds should not be used in areas where you are growing plants from seed, as coffee grounds can reduce germination rates and growth.

If you prefer, you can make a coffee ground “tea” for your plants.  Add 2 c. used coffee grounds to a five-gal. bucket of water.  Let the concoction steep for a few hours or overnight. Use this as liquid fertilizer for garden and container plants.  This also makes a great foliar feed you can spray directly on the leaves and stems of your plants.

If you’re not into gardening, here are a few other ways to use those coffee grounds.

In the kitchen:

To remove odors from hands after chopping onions and garlic, dampen your hands and rub them well with about 1 tsp. of fresh or used coffee grounds, then rinse.

Use coffee grounds to absorb odors in the refrigerator. Punch a few holes in the lid of a plastic container.  Put fresh, unbrewed grounds or completely dry used grounds in the container and cover with the lid.  Place the container on a shelf in the fridge.  Replace the coffee grounds every 6 months of so for maximum freshness.

Around the house:

Fill store-bought or homemade sachet bags with fresh or dry used coffee grounds to make air fresheners for closets and dresser drawers.

Coffee grounds can help you hide scratches on dark wood floors or furniture.  Combine 1 Tbsp.  coffee grounds with 1 Tbsp. olive oil.  Let the mixture sit for about 1 hour so the tannins in the grounds will leach into the oil and create a “dye”.  Fresh grounds will achieve the darkest color. Apply the dye with a cotton swab, then buff with a soft, dry cloth to hide the scratches.  Repeat as needed.

Beauty routine:

Scrub away rough skin with a coffee scrub.  The caffeine in this scrub also helps brighten skin.  To make the scrub, mix 1½ c. coarse sea salt, 1 c. dry coffee grounds, and 1 c. coconut oil.  Store the scrub in an airtight jar.

For crafts:

Coffee can be used to produce warm brown dye that can be used to dye fabrics, yarn, or Easter eggs.  It can even create watercolor paint.  Tannin, the component that causes coffee stains, can be used to create shades from ecru to dark brown.

Generally, dyeing fabric with coffee grounds is done by brewing the coffee to use as the dye bath.  The darker the roasted beans, the darker the dye.  If you want to do a large batch of dyeing, you can refrigerate or freeze grounds from your daily brewing until you have enough grounds for a large batch. Heat in boiling water, strain, and use the liquid for the dye bath.

Another method is to massage the coffee grounds into the fabric.  Damp grounds will produce more color than very wet grounds.  Make a paste of the grounds and smear it on the fabric and allow it to dry with the grounds in place.  Once the fabric is thoroughly dried, brush off the excess coffee grounds.

fighting bull


Coffee grounds makes the perfect brown-colored, not to mention great smelling, clay for animal sculptures, mud and dirt for landscapes, or even fossils.

Just add coffee grounds to your favorite clay recipes.  Here’s an easy one to start you off:


2 c.  all-purpose flour

½ c.  coffee grounds

1 c. salt

2 tsp. cream of tartar

1 c. boiling water

2 Tbsp. oil

Mix all ingredients well and allow the clay to sit for about an hour. If the color isn’t as dark as you’d like, add 1 Tbsp.  instant coffee.  Knead well and always store in a tightly covered container.

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