23 Awesome Things To Do With Your Used Coffee Grounds: The Ultimate Guide

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23 awesome things to do with used coffee grounds


If you’re like most coffee lovers, you throw away a LOT of used coffee grounds. I make 3 cups of coffee every day in a French press, so I know what that’s like. But rather than risk clogging your sink, you can instead put these coffee grounds to good use. 

That’s what this article is all about. We’ll show you 23 ways to use your used coffee grounds so they don’t go to waste. 

I spent about 5 hours combing different websites so I could compile this list. 

And while it would be arrogant of me to say I’ve covered every single possible use, I think I’ve got most of them. 

Here’s a quick overview:

1. Homemade candles

2. Remove fleas from your pet

3. Fertilize your garden

4. Get rid of odors

5. Homebrewed beer

6. De-icer during the winter

7. Give paper an antique look

8. Compost it for later

9. Reduce the appearance of cellulite

10. Repel insects and pests

11. Natural scrub

12. Stimulate hair growth

13. Scour pots and pans

14. Make a cockroach trap

15. Grow Blue Hydrangeas

16. Treat under eye circles

17. Exfoliate your skin

18. Make a natural dye

19. Clean your fireplace

20. Tenderize meat

21. Repair scratched surfaces

22. Grow mushrooms

23. Use as fuel

I’ve summarized them in a handy visual infographic which you can download here. The infographic is also displayed as images after every few sections. 

So let’s jump right into the first thing you can do with used coffee grounds. 

Here’s what you can do with used coffee grounds 

1. Homemade candles

OK this is probably one of the coolest things you can do with your used grounds. I remember my mom used to do this when I was growing up. Now, whenever I smell coffee, I have flashes of her coffee candles dotted around the house.

You’re gonna need an empty jar, wax, coffee grounds, a wooden stick and a saucepan. Melt some wax in the jar and place the wick in the center. Allow the wax to harden. Now, the wick should be secure in the center of the jar. Tie the other end to the wooden stick so the wick is centered as you pour in the rest of the wax. 

Melt the wax in a pan and pour it into the jar along with a layer of coffee grounds. Alternate between a layer of wax and a layer of coffee grounds until the jar is almost full. 

After the wax has hardened, you can remove the wooden stick and trim the wick. 

And you’re done! Now light the candle and enjoy that coffee scent :). 

For more information on the above process, you can check out this article on Just Coffee Coop.   

2. Remove fleas from your pet

We had an Irish Setter growing up (they look like this). While he was a fantastic dog, he always had fleas. My parents tried feeding him pills to help, but he kept spitting them out. If only my Dad knew of this technique back then ;). 

Used coffee grounds can be better than using standard flea-removal products, since these products contain harmful chemicals. 

If you can get your pet to stay still, rub some coffee grounds through their coat after washing and shampooing. Then rinse your pet off and allow their fur to dry. 

WARNING: don’t actually feed your pet coffee grounds. Sounds obvious, but I’m putting this in just in case. They can be toxic if consumed, so only rub them externally on your pet’s fur. 

3. Fertilize your garden 

Coffee and gardening? You heard right :). If you’re a gardening enthusiast, then this one’s for you. 

Coffee grounds can help give your soil the nutrients it needs for plants to grow. They make an excellent fertilizer, since they contain important minerals. These include nitrogen, calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium. 

Coffee grounds also help to attract earthworms that can improve your soil. Worms improve the aeration and drainage of soils by burrowing. And they promote the aggregation of the soil too.

4. Get rid of odors

Here’s another household use – especially if you have kids. Nitrogen, contained in coffee grounds, can help remove sulfur gas from the atmosphere. If you’ve ever smelled rotten eggs, then you know that sulfur smells ghastly. 

So let your coffee grounds do the Lord’s work and remove this smell from your home. 

For example, you can place a container or bowl of your used grounds in your fridge. This will remove nasty smells from spoiled foods. Of course, you could also just throw the food out ;). 

Another thing you can do is make a portable air freshener by adding your grounds to socks and then tie them off. Finally, you could put them in your gym bag or shoes to remove odors. 

5. Homebrewed beer

I’m excited for this one. I lived in Saudi Arabia for 18 months a few years ago and had to make my own beer out there – it’s a critical survival skill ;). If only I had known about this idea back then. Who knows what concoctions I would have come up with! 

If you’re a craft beer fan you know that most microbreweries and craft beer places usually have at least one coffee-based beverage on tap. Examples would be stouts and porters that are great for day drinking. 

How much coffee you use will depend on your own personal preferences. Including how strong you want your beer to be. For instance, deep roasted grains will give a stronger flavor compared to light roast. 

For more information, Brew Your Own has a detailed article that gives you plenty of tips.

The image below summarises the 5 ideas so far. Click it to enlarge.

6. De-icer during the cold winter months 

Yeah that’s right. You can even use coffee grounds to de-ice your car or even roads. Before I learned about this, I assumed salt was the only option for de-icing. Well, that’s not entirely true. My family used boiling water to remove ice from the car windshield every morning during winter. 

Anyway, coffee grounds work like salt. The nitrogen in them makes it less likely for snow and ice to freeze. They also provide friction due to their coarseness. And friction makes it less likely you’ll slip and fall. 

Coffee grounds are also “green”, so they don’t pose the same environmental hazard as excessive amounts of salt. In fact, salt can kill plants and pollute water supplies. 

Next winter give this a try. You may never need to use salt again.

7. Give paper an antique look

Here’s the short version:

Dip a piece of paper in a bowl of coffee grounds and water. Let it soak for a few minutes and then air dry. Brush off the grounds and you’ll have a cool antique-looking piece of paper. 

Not enough detail for you? No worries, here you go:

  1. You’ll need a bowl, some paper towel for spills, a sponge, and your coffee grounds. 
  2. Crumple up the paper so it looks aged. 
  3. Take a cup of hot water. Put in a tablespoon of your coffee grounds (fresh or used) and stir well.
  4. Let it cool. Then, dip your sponge in and dab the sponge over the piece of paper. 
  5. Flatten out the paper nice and gently.
  6. Dry it out using your oven at 200 degrees.
  7. Then use an iron to flatten it out. 

Watch this video for more info.

8. Compost it for later 

Can’t think of anything to use your coffee grounds for just yet? Compost it and use it as fertilizer at a later time.

Composting is the natural process of turning organic materials like leaves, food, and yes, coffee grounds, into fertilizer. In turn, this fertilizer can enrich your soil and plants.

But do coffee grounds make good fertilizer? Well, soil that’s fertilized with used coffee grounds can be richer in nutrients than other forms of compost. And another study showed that compost containing 40% coffee grounds (compared with 0%, 10%, and 20%) emitted the least amount of greenhouse gasses.

And don’t forget: coffee grounds are considered “green”, so they don’t harm the environment. They attract worms too, which can further enrich your soil.  

9. Reduce the appearance of cellulite

According to How Stuff Works, 80%-90% of women have cellulite. This causes dimpled skin on your thighs, hips, and abdomen. Treatments exist, such as laser therapy and liposuction, but these can be expensive. 

Well guess what? Used coffee grounds to the rescue. Mix your grounds with water or coconut oil and rub over your cellulite. This works because caffeine dehydrates cells, making them less visible.  

10. Repel insects and pests

I was all ears when I heard about this tip. I don’t like spiders, so anything that helps keep them at bay is welcome. 

Certain compounds in coffee are toxic to bugs, insects, and vermin. So you can use your coffee grounds to repel these nasty critters, keeping your home a pest-free zone. 

Put your grounds in a bowl (or several bowls) or sprinkle them in outdoor areas. For example, if you find that a line of ants has formed in (or around) your house, put down some coffee around the infested area. You can also use this method to keep slugs and snails off your garden lawn.  

By the way, someone once told me that the smell of orange repels spiders. Honestly, I have no idea if this is true, but if you try it and it works, be sure to drop me a message!

The image below summarises the last 5 ideas. Click it to enlarge.

11. Natural scrub

Above, I said the coarseness of coffee grounds can help provide friction when spread over ice. Well, this coarseness also makes them a great natural scrub for cleaning sinks and other surfaces. And you avoid using harmful chemicals, so it’s win-win. 

Coffee grounds can also be used to make a body scrub. You mix them in a jar with natural oil and brown sugar. Style Caster has a terrific set of recipes for coffee body scrubs if you want to take a look.

12. Stimulate hair growth 

I recently started using more natural shampoos and soaps in the shower. I don’t like that most soaps contain harmful chemicals, so I’m trying to be a little more aware of what I use to wash myself. 

Enter used coffee grounds. Exfoliating your scalp with coffee grounds can help remove dead cells. It can even stimulate hair growth and increase blood flow

According to Healthline, you can grab a handful of coffee grounds and rub them into your scalp when you’re showering. Just be sure to rinse thoroughly after.

13. Scour pots and pans

We touched on this above when talking about using coffee grounds as a scrub. 

Again, the abrasiveness of coffee grounds makes them useful for cleaning cooking utensils. Rather than using harsh soaps, you can use grounds to scrape the surface of your pots and pans to remove stains. Sprinkle them onto the surface and start scrubbing! And be sure to rinse well after you’re done. 

Or you can put a few spoons of coffee grounds on a towel and then use the towel to scrub. Hopefully, this will make it easier to clean your kitchenware without breaking your arm in the process. 

One resource claims you can use coffee grounds on their own, without any help from soap. 

14. Make a cockroach trap

This one is pure MacGyver – if MacGyver ever needed to escape from cockroaches. 

The scent of coffee will attract roaches. So you can use moist coffee grounds to set a trap for the little buggers. You’ll need a few jars, water, and some paper cups. 

Here’s a guide from Go Pests:

  1. Fill the jars with water. Put some of your used coffee grounds into a paper cup and drop it into the jar. 
  2. Place the jars in places where you have found roaches. 
  3. You’ll need to refresh the trap daily.
  4. Keep doing this until you’ve solved the problem.  

Sounds simple, but it’s effective. And that’s what we want. 

15. Grow Blue Hydrangeas

I remember learning all about pH levels in chemistry in school. I never thought that info would apply to coffee and growing flowers… but here we are :). 

Coffee is acidic. And this acidity can help adjust the pH level of your soil, which in turn can affect the color of your hydrangeas. 

According to Southern Living, the higher your soil’s acidity (pH less than 6), the more blue your flowers will be. More alkaline soils will give your flowers a pink color. Regular fertilizers can help you adjust your soil’s pH levels, but coffee grounds are one of the best “green” options available. And they’re cheaper too. 

Check out the article here for more details.

The image below summarises the last 5 ideas. Click it to enlarge.

16. Treat under eye circles 

Here’s a study that suggests skin care products combined with caffeine can reduce the appearance of aging. This includes preventing or reducing under eye circles.

Caffeine has anti-inflammatory properties. It also helps with blood circulation around your eyes. With this in mind, Healthline recommends adding your used coffee grounds to water or coconut oil to form a paste. Or you could use yogurt or aloe vera. Apply this mixture under your eyes and let it sit for a few minutes before washing. Repeat daily as needed. 

You can also use cold coffee grounds. Put a teaspoon in the fridge for a few minutes to cool them down. And then place them under your eyes for a few minutes before washing with warm water. 

Be gentle here. Coffee grounds are coarse and abrasive. So make sure you’re not rubbing them in too hard. 

PLEASE NOTE: this is not medical advice, so consult your doctor before using coffee grounds near your eyes.  

17. Exfoliate your skin

We’ve already touched on this in the section on using coffee grounds as a scrub.

You can use it to exfoliate your skin in three different ways:

  1. Use it as a body scrub
  2. Use it as a facial scrub
  3. Use it as a hand scrub. 

You can mix your grounds with a variety of ingredients to create different scrubs. These ingredients might include aloe vera, yogurt, sea salt, essential oils, honey, olive oil, coconut oil, and sugar. For the hand scrub, you could even mix them with regular liquid soap. 

18. Make a natural dye

You can use coffee grounds to create a dye for coloring clothes, cotton, linen, and paper. As mentioned above, giving paper an antique look is a cool use of your spare grounds. But you can use them on fabrics too.

You can use wet grounds to dye Easter eggs, disguise stains on clothing, and deepen the color of dark hair. The possibilities are (almost) endless. 

Why might you want to do this? The main reason is dyes are made with harmful chemicals that cause cancer and harm the environment. So used coffee grounds make a great alternative. 

Here’s an example of how you might create such a dye:

  1. Boil your used grounds in a pot of water. The longer you boil, the stronger the dye. 
  2. Strain the grounds by pouring them through a mesh strainer. 
  3. Add the fabric or paper by dipping it into the coffee and let it soak for an hour or so. Again, the longer you let it soak the darker the color. 
  4. Rinse and dry. 

19. Clean your fireplace 

We’ve mentioned the coarse texture of coffee grounds a few times already. This texture is what makes them the swiss army knife of leftover food. 

Cleaning your fireplace is one more way you can make use of this. House Digest suggests that damp coffee grounds can help remove dust levels by weighing them down. Handy, eh? And the coarse texture can help you clean the surface of your fireplace and remove coal or soot stains.

Check out House Digest for more information.

20. Tenderize meat

Now I’m getting hungry. Used coffee grounds can be a potent and aromatic spice you can use to flavor meat. Marinating a steak in a sauce made from coffee can tenderize the meat, as well as give it a kick in terms of taste.

Here’s what the Guardian has to say on the matter.

According to Healthline, the reason coffee works is because it helps soften the muscle fibers and proteins that give meat a tough texture. Coffee contains acids that break down these proteins, as well as enhance the flavor. 

Just add the grounds to whatever sauce recipe you’re using. Apply this to the meat 1-2 hours before you cook it. 

I’m salivating at the thought. 

The image below summarises the last 5 ideas. Click it to enlarge.

21. Repair scratched surfaces

Wooden furniture can be easily scratched – my own work table looks like somebody went wild with sandpaper and some iron filings. 

If you can relate, you might want to try your used coffee grounds on your furniture before buying more expensive solutions. 

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Get your coffee grounds and add them to water to form a paste. 
  2. Next, rub the paste into the scratches using a towel or cotton swab. 
  3. Let it sit for a few minutes and then wipe it away using a rag. 
  4. This should buff out the scratch and conceal it by dying the wood a dark color. 
  5. Repeat as necessary. 

Some things to note:

First, try this on a small, inexpensive piece of furniture before blasting the 15 year old oak table your grandmother gave you on your wedding day.  

Also, realize that coffee grounds will never completely remove scratches from your furniture. They’re a quick, temporary fix… not a complete one.  

22. Grow mushrooms 

We’re back on the gardening theme again. 

Mushrooms are another application of used coffee grounds. These grounds are full of nutrients and provide mushrooms with an underlying base on which to grow. 

Growing mushrooms can be easier with coffee grounds too, since the brewing process helps with sterilization. 

Anyway, here’s a quick method you can use:

  1. Take about 5 pounds of coffee and moisten.
  2. Add mushroom spore along with sawdust mixture. Mix thoroughly. 
  3. Put this mixture into a grow bag and fill to about half full.
  4. Cover with cellophane and poke a few holes if using an open container. 
  5. Spray the mix with water daily.
  6. When you start to see mushrooms, move to an area with fresh air. 
  7. You can harvest the mushrooms after their caps turn upward. 

For more details, check out this article

23. Use as fuel

And finally (phew!), we reach number 23. You can turn used coffee grounds into briquette logs for your fire. In fact, Farrer’s Coffee has a cool article on how you can do just that.

Coffee briquettes contain more energy than regular fuels like wood. They produce more heat too and they burn for longer, making them ideal for heating your home. 

You can experiment with various coffees to give off different aromas when a fire is lighting. 

To wrap things up…

And that brings us to the end. Hopefully the above list has opened your mind to the possibilities of what can be done with your used coffee grounds. 

Overwhelmed? Don’t be. Pick just ONE of the above ideas and run with it. Once you’ve got the hang of one of them, try something else. Schedule it in your calendar if it helps… you can do it!

And remember, you can check out this infographic for a more visual summary

Finally, don’t forget to read our articles on how to use a French press and the difference between cold brew vs iced coffee

See you next time!

Photo of author


My name is Colm O’Regan. I’m a self-confessed coffee nut who probably drinks a little too much of the stuff every morning. And I founded Moderno Coffee with the goal of providing the best coffee guides and reviews on the web.