I drink a lot of coffee. After brewing a fresh pot, I’m always left with a pile of wet, used coffee grounds. Typically, these grounds would go straight into the compost bin. However, I’ve discovered some clever and unconventional ways to upcycle my used coffee grounds instead of sending them to the landfill.
1. Make DIY Coffee Face Scrub
Used coffee grounds make an amazing exfoliant for the face and body. The grounds provide a gentle abrasion to slough off dead skin cells. The caffeine in coffee is also thought to improve circulation and reduce puffiness when applied topically.
To make a simple DIY coffee scrub, I mix 1 tablespoon of used coffee grounds with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. For oily skin, substitute jojoba oil instead. Gently massage the mixture over damp skin and rinse. This leaves my face feeling incredibly soft and smooth. I like to store any extra scrub in a jar in the fridge.
2. Fertilize Houseplants
Coffee grounds contain essential nutrients that are beneficial for indoor plants, like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. I simply sprinkle wet or dry grounds lightly over the soil around my houseplants. Over time, the grounds break down and release nutrients into the soil.
This fertilizer trick is especially great for acid-loving plants like rhododendrons, azaleas, hydrangeas, and camellias. The acidity in the coffee mimics the soil conditions that these plants thrive in.
3. Make Coffee-Infused Sugar Scrub
For an indulgent self-care treat, I make a coffee sugar scrub for my body. The caffeine in the grounds boosts blood flow while the sugar gently buffs away dry skin.
Here’s how to make it:
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1⁄2 cup coconut oil
- 1⁄4 cup used coffee grounds
Melt the coconut oil and mix all ingredients together. Apply the scrub in circular motions before showering. The sugar dissolves and moisturizes wonderfully under the stream of water.
4. Deodorize Fridge Odors
A bowl of used coffee grounds can help absorb funky odors in the fridge. The grounds trap and neutralize unpleasant smells.
I simply place a small bowl filled with dry grounds in the back of the fridge. After a day or two, I toss the old grounds and refill the bowl with fresh ones. It’s an easy and chemical-free way to keep my fridge smelling fresh.
5. Make DIY Coffee Candles
For a calming home fragrance, I like to make my own coffee-scented candles. Used coffee grounds infuse wax with a rich, cozy coffee aroma when heated.
To make coffee candles:
- Melt plain wax in a double boiler
- Stir in 1-2 tablespoons of used coffee grounds per cup of wax
- Pour into a heat-safe glass or metal container with a wick
- Allow to fully cool before lighting
The candles emit a soothing coffee shop scent when burned. I like to gift these homemade candles to family and friends.
6. Scrub Pots and Pans
Used coffee grounds make a great natural alternative to harsh chemical cleaners. The abrasive texture helps scrub away stuck-on food.
To clean pots and pans, I simply rub wet coffee grounds over the dirty areas using a sponge. The grounds tackle even baked-on cheese or sauce messes. Rinse thoroughly afterward for sparkling cookware.
7. Compost Grounds
Lastly, I make sure to compost the majority of my used coffee grounds. The grounds add key nutrients like carbon and nitrogen to compost piles. This helps create nutrient-rich soil to use for gardening.
Composting coffee grounds also keeps them out of landfills. The grounds can take several months to break down when buried in a landfill.
The Bottom Line
From body scrubs to fertilizer, I’m constantly finding new ways to give my used coffee grounds a second life. Upcycling old grounds reduces waste and helps me get the most out of my morning brew. I encourage you to get creative and try repurposing your coffee grounds too!