Java. Joe. Bean juice. Cupped lightning. Coffee. Whatever you call it, Americans drink about 330 million cups of it each day! That’s a lot of coffee and a lot of coffee grounds. The coffee goes into our bodies, where we absorb the caffeine and water—it’s the kickstart to most people’s mornings (and afternoons). But where do the coffee grounds go?
Most people don’t think twice about tossing an old coffee filter and used grounds into the trash. But there’s actually a lot you could be doing with those spent grounds, aside from sending them to a landfill. Here’s a look at five creative ways to put old coffee grounds to good use and why you should consider them the next time you brew a pot of your favorite blend.
Any green thumb knows that good fertilizer is the secret to a beautiful garden. Spent coffee grounds are a great addition to the soil for a number of reasons! Instead of tossing your spent coffee grounds in the trash, consider spreading them in your garden (sans coffee filter, of course).
First, they’re organic material, which means they’ll break down over time and become a natural part of the garden’s ecosystem. Second, the grittiness of coffee grounds helps to improve the water retention and aeration of the soil, which is a big benefit if your soil has saturation issues. Finally, the acidity of spend coffee grounds is great for inhibiting weed growth and can actually attract earthworms, which continue to “turn” the soil and produce nutrients.
2. Body scrub/mask
Coffee grounds are a well-known exfoliant and are actually part of many consumer beauty products for this reason. Pop open a website like Pinterest and you’ll find no shortage of body and facial scrub recipes that call for coffee grounds. Spread your old grounds on a baking sheet and let them dry, then use them as part of these recipes to create a natural exfoliant that buffs and polishes skin while you scrub in natural moisturizers. There are even masks and muds that use coffee grounds to add a natural glow to exfoliated skin.
3. Odor neutralization
Everyone knows the fresh, aromatic scent of coffee. From the beans to the brew, the smell of coffee is unmistakable—including the lingering scent of freshly-brewed grounds. This is the key to covering up unwanted odors in your home!
One great way to use coffee grounds as an odor neutralizer is to dry out used grounds, then place them in a bowl. Put an unscented candle in the center of the bowl, then place it in a room. Over the next hour or so, the gentle smell of warm coffee grounds will fill the room! Have lingering odors in bedsheets or towels? Some people swear by covering a dryer sheet in coffee grounds, then running a dry cycle with it. Others use it like baking soda to take funky smells out of the fridge or dishwasher. In any case, wherever there are lingering odors, look to coffee grounds for relief.
4. Cleaning products
Mixing in some spent coffee grounds with your dish soap or tub cleaner can have great results for cleaning! Not only will the grounds act as a gentle abrasive that removes stains a buildups, the smell of the grounds will neutralize odors. Coffee grounds are a great addition to homemade cleaners as well.
For more practical cleaning applications, consider using a small amount of coffee grounds when cleaning your garbage disposal—not too much, though, or it could be bad for your plumbing. Or, use some grounds to help clean out your grouting instead of spending all day scrubbing vigorously. Coffee ground can be a great wet or dry ingredient to add to cleaners and you don’t need a lot of them to make a big difference in your cleaning tasks!
5. Pest repellent
You may love the smell and taste of coffee, but there are quite a few pests that detest it! That’s great news for anyone looking for a creative way to use old coffee grounds. Pest repellents made of coffee filters are proven to be highly effective against ants, slugs, mosquitoes, wasps and more!
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) actually recommends using coffee grounds as a natural pest repellant. Spread them in your garden, around the perimeter of your home, along window sills and anywhere else pests might get into your home. Many insects will shy away from the grounds, due to their pungent smell and acidity. If you’ve got a pest problem, a good ‘ol cup of coffee might be the answer you’ve been looking for!
Have other ideas for how to use coffee grounds? Share them with us! We’re always looking for new ways to put spent coffee grounds to good use, to keep them out of garbage cans and landfills.