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Put Your Used Coffee Grounds to Good Use

I have a long list of things that I want to do, but don’t have to do.  Unfortunately, my list of things that I do have to do is almost as long, so I seldom get to my ‘wanna-do’ list.  Near the top of that ‘wanna-do’ is start a compost pile.  Every time I empty the trash, I wince at the sight of all those prime produce remnants headed to the trash bin.  While I was discarding my perfectly good fertilizer the other day, it dawned on me that I could be throwing away other perfectly useful things.  After a doing a little research it turns out that I was right.  Used coffee grounds!  I found that those little brown granules can do a lot more that just perk up your morning.  They can help with your beauty regimen, your pets, your garden and more.  And it doesn’t require a large area safe from children and dogs to sit and fester for weeks either.  Which means, unlike my future compost pile, I may get to put our used coffee grounds to use some time this year. If you’d like to follow along, here are a few ways to repurpose your java remains.

In Your Beauty Routine

  • Banish cellulite: Are you ready to take your love of coffee to a whole new level?  Mix 1/4 cup warm, used coffee grounds with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then apply the mixture to your “problem areas” (best to do this in the tub or over some newspaper).  Next, wrap the areas with shrink wrap and leave on for several minutes. Remove the wrap, brush loose grounds off your skin and then shower with warm water. For best results, it is recommended to repeat this procedure twice a week.  The caffeine is purported to help metabolize fat when absorbed by the skin.
  • Clear up acne: Coffee has natural astringent and antioxidant properties which makes it a great cleanser and toner for your face.  And it’s graininess makes it perfect for exfoliation.  Just mix your used coffee grounds with enough milk to make a paste.  Rub it on pretty good for about a minute, then relax and let it sit for about 20 minutes.  Whlie washing it off, scrub it around a little more and then rinse clean.
  • Make hair soft and shiny: When washing your hair, rub used coffee grounds through wet hair and rinse.  You can also pour 1-2 tbl straight into your conditioner. For brown hair, coffee grounds will also add highlights.

Around The House

  • Deodorizer: Stop wasting baking soda just to absorb odors. Dry used coffee grounds out on a cookie sheet, pour them into the foot of some old nylons, tie off the end and then put them in  in your refrigerator or freezer.  You can also rub them on your hands to get rid of strong food smells, like onions or garlic.
  • Dust inhibitor: Before you clean out the fireplace, spread wet coffee grounds over the ashes to keep the dust under control.
  • Furniture scratch cover-up: Steep grounds in a bit of hot water and apply the liquid to furniture scratches with a Q-tip.
  • Cleaning product:Thanks to their slightly abrasive nature, grounds can be used as a scouring agent for greasy and grimy jobs.  Just be sure that the surface is stain resistant 🙂
  • Pipe cleaner: Flush them down the toilet.  Their grittiness will scrub your pipes of any slime and grime.  Please note, this is not a good idea if you have a septic system.
  • Ward off fleas: Shampoo your dog or cat as usual and when they are wet rub their fur down thoroughly with coffee grounds.  Massage the coffee grounds all the way to their skin and work them in.  Rinse the coffee grounds away and your pet’s fur will be soft and clean and the fleas will disappear.
  • Make parchment: The next time your third grader needs to re-create The Declaration of Independence here is a simple soultion to make realistic looking parchment.  Put some used coffee grounds in a flat pan of water and dip a white piece of paper into it.  Remove the paper carefully and let it dry and you will have a decent copycat.
  • Make coffee ground fossils: Check out this how-to on these super cute fossils that use coffee grounds to lend an aged hue to the finished product.

In The Yard

  • Insect repellent: Sprinkle old grounds around places you don’t want ants, or on the ant piles themselves.  They will either move on or stay away.  This is great for my backyard since those buggers invade our patio as soon as the weather warms up.  I like this solution because they blend in with the surrounding soil and I don’t have to use chemicals around the kids and dogs.  Used grounds are also said to repel snails and slugs, but we don’t mind those guys around here 🙂
  • Mosquito repellent: Check out this simple how-to on how to burn coffee grounds to keep the mosquitoes at bay.
  • Kitty repellent: To keep Fluffy from tinkling in the garden, mix grounds with some orange peel and sprinkle it around your plants.
  • Grow better carrots: Mix fresh grounds with tiny carrot seeds to make them easier to sow.  They also repel root maggots and other yucky bugs.
  • Plant food: Plants that prefer acidic soils (including rosebushes, azaleas, rhododendrons, evergreen and camellias) will appreciate the abrasive boost from your discards.  Grounds can also add nutrients to your compost bin, but I wouldn’t know anything about that.
  • Salt icy walkways: Dried grounds make good grit to spread on icy sidewalks.  It doesn’t effect the environment and the acid helps melt the ice.


  • Lindsey - March 11, 2012 - 8:03 am

    Uuummm Bonnie these awesome! Sometimes I forget just how ingenious you and Claire are. I’m trying these. Out!ReplyCancel

  • Lola - May 2, 2012 - 3:48 pm

    I would like to know if old meaning is old(never used) or used grounds in the following tip?

    Coffee Grounds in Conditioner
    This one is really simple. Instead of throwing old coffee grounds away, toss them into your conditioner to make your hair extra shiny. That’s all it takes!ReplyCancel

  • Bonnie - May 2, 2012 - 4:57 pm

    Hi Lola,
    I meant old as in used. Sorry for the confusion!ReplyCancel

  • 'Becca - July 25, 2012 - 1:00 pm

    Gosh, I had a really miserable experience using coffee grounds in my hair! Where did I go wrong?

    Another use for coffee grounds is scrubbing pots. They seem to work especially well on cast iron. Just be sure to use something that protects your hand from the grit when you’re scrubbing. If you happen to have a citrus peel, that works really well because the citrus oil also helps to clean the pan.

    Maybe my lazy composting method will inspire you to get started!ReplyCancel

  • Helene - August 21, 2012 - 2:43 pm

    Does coffee grounds work for lice??ReplyCancel

  • Claire - August 31, 2012 - 11:40 am

    @Helene – We’ve never used it for lice, so we can’t say definitively yes or no. You could research it though, and see if there is that is a widespread remedy.ReplyCancel

  • Faye - December 27, 2012 - 1:07 pm

    Coffee grounds are good for African violets. Just spread grounds on top of the soil. Be careful not to get them on the leaves!ReplyCancel

  • Jaja - February 15, 2013 - 9:09 pm

    If one isn’t an avid coffee drinker is there a way to store used grounds until you’re ready to use them and still be effective?ReplyCancel

  • Alicia - September 23, 2013 - 7:35 am

    They have free coffee grounds at starbucks(:ReplyCancel

  • Kathy - September 29, 2014 - 4:49 am

    these all sound great and I really want to try them, but the grounds, are they used or fresh from a can?ReplyCancel

  • Bonnie - September 30, 2014 - 9:18 pm

    You use the grounds after you brew them 🙂ReplyCancel

  • tj - April 18, 2015 - 10:45 pm

    Hi about keeping used coffee grounds fresh I just put them in the freezer and take them out as needed.ReplyCancel

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