24 Surprising Uses For Coffee Grounds

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Whether you use a French press, an automatic drip machine or a Turkish ibrik to make your coffee, you are left with a small pile of used coffee grounds along with your delicious cup of steaming Joe. But don’t think all you can do with leftover grounds is dump them out in the trash, or wash them down the garbage disposal. Coffee grounds have numerous uses around the house and in the garden. You can even use them in your beauty routine.

Use Coffee Grounds Around The House

  1. Let the grounds dry completely, and then keep a small bowlful in your refrigerator or freezer to absorb odors.
  2. Coffee grounds are just abrasive enough to scrub away grease or caked-on foods from cookware or grills. Rinse thoroughly after scrubbing.
  3. In a pinch, you can use coffee grounds to cover up a scratch in wood furniture or flooring. Steep grounds in hot water, then dab a cotton swab into the liquid and touch up the scratch.
  4. Give paper or fabric an antiqued, tea-stained look by dipping them in a mixture of water and coffee grounds. Let the paper or fabric sit for a few minutes so the stain can set, then remove from liquid and let dry.
  5. Damp coffee grounds sprinkled on fireplace ashes will help keep the dust down when you sweep up the mess.
  6. If your garbage disposal has developed a bad smell, let a handful of wet grounds sit in the unit overnight, and then flush the sink with hot water.
  7. Add a little bit of coffee grounds to ashtrays to absorb cigarette odor.
  8. If your car has that lingering smell of fast food french fries, set a small bowl of coffee grounds in the car overnight to freshen things up.
  9. Likewise, a small cup of coffee grounds can sit in your microwave oven overnight to absorb smells of popcorn or other foods.

How To Use Coffee Grounds In The Garden

  1. Ants don’t like coffee, so make a small ring of grounds around garden areas you would like to protect from pests.
  2. If you want to keep mophead hydrangeas blue, work coffee grounds into the soil around the bush, then water thoroughly.
  3. Strengthen seedlings with extra nitrogen by stirring a tablespoon of coffee grounds into the watering can.
  4. Keep stray cats from using your vegetable garden as their own private litter box by sprinkling grounds around the perimeter of the plot. Cats don’t like the smell of coffee.
  5. Acid-loving plants like azaleas, camellias, roses and rhodendrons will burst into bloom after you work a cup of coffee grounds into the soil at the base of the plant.
  6. Coffee grounds are an excellent addition to your compost pile.
  7. Snails and slugs are hesitant to crawl over coffee grounds, so use them to protect prized plants from these garden pests.
  8. Add a teaspoon of coffee grounds to your houseplants’ soil for healthy growth.
  9. If you are catching worms to use as bait, add a cup of coffee grounds to the soil to keep them alive and wiggling.

Using Coffee Grounds For Personal Care

  1. Scrub your hands with coffee grounds after handling stinky foods like onions or fish. The grounds will absorb the odor.
  2. Exfoliate your face with a coffee ground scrub. Just rub the wet grounds into your skin, then rinse thoroughly. Your skin will be soft and smooth.
  3. Add highlights and shine to brown hair by rubbing coffee grounds through your tresses in the shower, then rinsing thoroughly. Be sure to place a strainer over your shower’s drain to catch the grounds.
  4. Put a quarter cup of coffee grounds in an old pair of nylons, and place in your shoes overnight to absorb sweat odor.
  5. Mix coffee grounds with warm water, and let sit for an hour or two. Rub the water into your pet’s coat to give a nice shine, and repel fleas.
  6. For dress-up fun, create a five o’clock shadow appearance by smoothing a thin layer of petroleum jelly over your chin and upper lip area, then pressing coffee grounds into the jelly.

Now that you know how useful coffee grounds can be, there’s no more reason to hesitate before brewing that second cup. Put the resulting leftover grounds to work around your home, in the garden and even on your skin.

Last Updated: July 19, 2012
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About Michelle Ullman Michelle Ullman has lived and gardened in Southern California since childhood. A freelance writer, she covers topics ranging from gardening to home improvement to health issues. She also has experience as a catalog copywriter and poet. Michelle has trained and worked as a respiratory therapist and surgical technologist, but prefers to spend her time gardening, and walking with her dog. Michelle holds a Bachelor's Degree from Redlands University in Business Management. 

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