10 things to do with coffee grounds

10 things to do with used coffee grounds

If you’ve found your way to this article, you must enjoy drinking coffee as much as we do — and you probably generate a whole lot of used coffee grounds. But where do coffee grounds go when they’re spent?

You might put them straight in the bin once they’ve served their purpose and brewed the perfect cup of joe — but this amazing produce still has much more to give.

There are plenty of practical ways to repurpose ground coffee into something that provides both flavour and function. Next time you go to empty out your knock box, consider one of these 10 resourceful strategies to recycle your used coffee grounds.

What to do with ground coffee

1. Fertilise your garden

When you dispose of your grounds in the bin, they’ll pass through standard waste channels and end up in a landfill site. However, you can make your java habit greener by adding them to your compost to produce fertiliser.

Coffee grounds are rich in nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Growing plants will quickly use up these supplies in soil, so adding them back in manually can make your foliage thrive. Acid-loving plants like azaleas, hydrangeas, and blueberries will do well, as will root crops like radishes and carrots. Just be careful not to add grounds where you’re growing crops like tomatoes that could be damaged by acidity.

2. Repel pests and insects

Now that you’re out and enjoying your flourishing garden, there is every chance that you’ll run into some patio pests. But once again, it’s used coffee grounds to the rescue. The acidity and strong aroma put out by coffee helps to repel bugs that could wreak havoc on your plant ecosystem and peace of mind alike.

Leaving small bowls of used grounds around your outdoor seating areas can ward off mosquitoes and other flying bugs, while scattering them around your plants will keep ants, slugs and snails at bay. A small sprinkle of grounds every few metres should do the trick, or a line 1-2 inches thick will act as a natural barrier.

3. Turn them into a surface scrub

Against all the odds, your used coffee grounds can even be used as a cleaning agent. Grounds are ideal for scrubbing down hard-to-clean kitchen cookware thanks to their abrasive texture. All you need to do is sprinkle some onto your utensils, grill or other kitchenware and scrub away any accumulated grime. Rinse thoroughly afterwards and avoid any porous surfaces, as the grounds could cause staining.

Plus, your grounds could also help to ward off disease. Reports have found that coffee extracts show antibacterial and antiviral properties, so if you’re including coffee in your wipe-down regime, you’ll keep your kitchenware spick and span in our post-pandemic world.

4. Concoct a natural exfoliant

It’s not just your kitchen that used coffee grounds can keep in check. They can also be a great exfoliant to add to your shower routine, acting as an all-natural body scrub to wash away any built-up dirt and dead skin cells. It’s a classic home remedy that will extend the life cycle of your coffee grounds and save you money in the long run if you replace your store-bought scrub.

To get the full benefits, mix 3 tbsp coffee grounds with 1 tbsp honey or coconut oil and store in a jar. Scrubbing down and removing any pore-clogging debris will stimulate blood flow to the skin, which can help to remove toxins via lymphatic drainage and even minimise the appearance of cellulite.

5. Make a coffee candle

We all love the smell of coffee. We all love the ambience of a twinkling candle. But how do you make a coffee candle? Put simply, you can supplement or replace those sweet-smelling essential oils that are used in candle-making for your beloved coffee grounds. As the candle burns, the grounds are exposed and the heat releases a sumptuous aroma of coffee into your home.

If you’re new to candle making, the process is straightforward. Simply take your mug or candle holder, hold the wick upright, and add your melted wax while sprinkling in coffee grounds. Allow the wax to set for about an hour and enjoy.

6. Soak up bad odours

It’s vital to store your coffee correctly, and that usually means sealing it in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. We don’t usually recommend putting coffee in the fridge as it has a knack for soaking up any smells that are around it — and nobody wants a cheese-scented cup of joe. However, once you’ve used your grounds, they can be left in the open to absorb any unsavoury odours.

To do so, add some dried grounds to a shallow dish and place it at the back of your fridge or pantry. While it won’t mask any particularly offensive odours, it can keep everything still in date smelling as fresh as a daisy.

7. Stimulate hair growth

The exfoliating effects of coffee grounds can also benefit your scalp. Applying grounds as part of your hair-washing process helps to remove hair product residue that could be weighing down your strands at the follicle. All you need to do is massage a handful into your scalp before you shampoo, then rinse as normal.

Keeping your locks healthy and clean helps to promote new growth and, of course, great hair days. Plus, coffee grounds contain caffeine. Studies have shown that caffeine can stimulate hair growth and slow hair loss, which is why it’s often added as an ingredient to shampoo.

8. Repair furniture wear and tear

When rubbed on wooden surfaces, used coffee grounds help to soften the appearance of superficial wear and tear. This is thanks to their abrasive texture and natural dyeing effect when wet. So, consider taking a coffee paste to any scuffs and scratches that you have marking your darker tables, chairs and mantles.

To make your paste, you’ll want to mix your grounds with a small amount of water and gently buff it into the wood using a soft rag. After 10 minutes or so, wipe away any excess and check how your surface looks. If the scratch is still too light, then dab it further with some coffee until the desired colour is achieved, waiting a few hours between applications.

9. De-ice your driveway

If you stockpile your grounds throughout the year, they’ll come into their own during the wintertime. While salt is generally used as the de-icing agent of choice, used coffee grounds work in a similar way. They create friction between the ice and your shoes, making it easier to walk, and are also rich in nitrogen, which is a known ice-melter.

Thankfully, used coffee grounds are also biodegradable. This means that they can be safely sprinkled on your driveway, patio and pavements with minimal risk to the environment. Gritting with salt, on the other hand, can contaminate water courses and endanger entire ecosystems.

10. Produce a natural dye

For the crafty connoisseurs among you, did you know that used coffee grounds can be used as a base to make inexpensive natural fabric dye? When your spent grounds are re-moistened, they will colour common fabrics like cotton, linen, yarn, and as anybody who has ever turned in a medieval-themed piece of homework will know, paper too.

This way, you can add a rustic edge to your fabrics and put a twist on conventional dyeing for clothes, accessories and other crafts. Plus, as coffee-based dye is all-natural and non-toxic, you’ll avoid some of the chemicals that are added to commercial dyes, which sensitive skin sufferers may struggle with.

So, after a long day spent scrubbing, melting, repairing and more — what’s left to do? Have a coffee, of course. If you’re looking to kick back and relax with a steaming mug of something new, give our coffee quiz a try and be matched to a premium roaster based on your preferences.