How to reuse your leftover coffee grounds


Do you like saving money, and the environment? One of the biggest things you can do for both is to reuse as much as possible. You might be surprised to discover that coffee grounds are one of the most reusable kinds of household waste produced.

So don’t throw those delicious coffee grounds away! There are plenty of different applications around the home that can even replace things you’d otherwise buy.

You could even end up finding that you want to use more used coffee grounds than you can even produce from your own coffee brewing. If that’s the case, try asking around coffee shops to see if they’ll give you their waste grounds.

Before You Begin

First thing’s first – wet coffee grounds will eventually start to decompose if you don’t use them straight away. Mouldy coffee grounds are useful to no-one, although you can still toss them into the compost heap. For most of the below uses, however, you’ll want to dry out your used grounds as soon as possible after using them.

Drying out used coffee grounds is thankfully pretty easy. Just spread them out in a thin layer on a tray lined with a few sheets of newspaper, and leave them in the sun to dry out. Changing the newspaper and turning the grounds can make the process more effective. You can also do this in the oven, but if it’s a nice sunny day it’s best to save the electricity.

Once your coffee grounds are completely dry, you can put them to use or store them in a sealed container for later.


Coffee is great at absorbing odours, in addition to exuding its own pleasant smell. You can use the grounds on their own, or mix them with bicarb (aka baking soda) for an odour-absorbing boost. You can set up a coffee deodoriser as either an open container (provided it’s placed somewhere safe where it won’t get knocked over) or as an air freshener made by stuffing the grounds inside a sock, stocking, or other fabric to hang up or toss into a cupboard.

Places you can use coffee grounds as a deodoriser include:

  • Fridge: Stick a small open container full of used grounds in the back of the fridge or freezer and forget about it. Replace the grounds after a few weeks after they’ve soaked up all the smells they can.
  • Bins: You can dump used coffee grounds in the bottom of your bin (rather than in the bin liner) to ward off the accumulation of bin stench.
  • Cupboards: Keep your stinky shoes in the same cupboard as your clothes? Prevent your whole closet and its contents from smelling like shoes by keeping coffee grounds inside to suck up the stink and replace it with the scent of your favourite roast.
  • Bathroom: That ‘toilet’ smell, that stagnant water smell, that musty smell – all things that can contribute to the room where you’re meant to freshen up smell far from fresh. A discreet cup of used coffee grounds absorbs smells and moisture in the air as well as working as an air freshener.
  • People: If you’ve got some strong smells on your skin, such as on your hands after chopping garlic or onions, or on your feet from sweaty socks, a good scrub with used coffee grounds can easily take care of that.

Gardening Secret Weapon

Coffee isn’t just good for perking up people – it’s great for energising plants, too. There are a few different reasons why scattering around your used coffee grounds is good for your garden.

  • Worms love coffee, and soil loves worms. Let them gorge themselves on your old coffee grounds and turn it into rich fertile soil to grow your flowers, herbs, or veggies.
  • Conversely, slugs and snails hate coffee. Ward them off by creating a barrier of coffee grounds. It’s a safe and eco-friendly way to keep plants off your pets.
  • Plants need food too, and mixing in used coffee grounds with other green waste (such as grass clippings, dead leaves, or straw) to neutralise the acidity can give your garden a good feeding of nitrogen, potassium and magnesium.
  • Compost bins not only digest your fruit and veggie scraps, but also benefit from your old coffee grounds. Coffee is rich in nitrogen, which is a key feature of fertile soil. The coffee can also attract worms which are good for your garden and for the progress of your composting. Make sure not to go overboard though – you don’t want to make your compost too acidic.
  • The colour of some flowers is significantly influenced by the acidity of the soil. Adding coffee to your soil to make it more acidic can turn your usually pink flowers into blue blooms. Check the types of flowers you have to find out whether or not this trick will work.

DIY Design & Repair

Sometimes stains are a good thing. Coffee is great at producing a weathered golden colour in pretty much any material that soaks up stains, such as timber and cloth. Used coffee grounds soaked in water can dye and ‘age’ your fresh furniture for a simple and inexpensive alternative to buying real antiques. You can also use the same method to reduce the appearance of scratches in wooden floors and furniture.

Clean Up Grime & Grease

Tough buildup in pots and pans and on surfaces can be difficult to budge. Add some coffee grounds into your cleaning to add a grit that will help soak up and really make that grease budge. Coffee grounds are abrasive but not so harsh as to damage most surfaces. Just double check whether your cleaning target will be susceptible to scratches or stains from coffee grounds.

Skin & Hair Care

Coffee grounds can make a great natural exfoliant. While there are plenty of recipes around for coffee soaps and scrubs, at its most basic, freshly-used grounds mixed with a bit of warm water or skin-safe oil can do a pretty solid job at scrubbing away dead skin.

You can also use coffee grounds to make salt scrubs, soap bars, and other kinds of scrubs. If you use a lot of hair product and want to get rid of build-up, used coffee grounds rubbed through your hair can help break apart residues without damaging the hair itself.

Make sure to dry out used grounds before using them in any recipes that you’ll want to store for more than a day, as a mouldy face scrub doesn’t sound like much of a beauty treatment.

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