I drink coffee every morning, which means I end up with a lot of used coffee grounds. Instead of throwing them in the trash, there are many ways I can repurpose these grounds around my house. Used coffee grounds are a versatile item with applications in the garden, for cleaning, personal care, and more.
Fertilize Houseplants and Garden Soil
Coffee grounds make an excellent fertilizer for houseplants and garden soil. The grounds contain nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and other nutrients that plants need to grow.
To use coffee grounds as fertilizer:
- Collect the wet grounds from my morning coffee.
- Dry the used grounds completely before using to avoid mold growth. Spread out on a baking sheet and let sit for 24 hours.
- Mix the dried grounds into the top few inches of soil around indoor and outdoor plants. For houseplants, I add about 1 tablespoon per 6 inch pot.
- Work the grounds lightly into the soil to prevent the grounds from just sitting on the surface.
- The grounds will break down and release nutrients over time. Reapply every few weeks during the growing season.
Some key benefits of using coffee grounds as fertilizer:
- Provides nitrogen for leaf growth.
- Releases phosphorus for root and flower development.
- Adds organic matter to improve soil structure.
- Helps soil retain moisture.
- Is free and easy to obtain from my morning coffee routine.
I’ve had great success using grounds on my indoor plants like philodendrons and on outdoor plants like tomatoes, peppers, and flowers. It’s an easy way to reduce waste and improve my plants!
Make DIY Exfoliating Scrubs
Used coffee grounds make an excellent exfoliant for homemade scrubs and skincare. The coarse texture of the grounds helps slough off dead skin cells. The grounds also contain antioxidants that can provide anti-inflammatory benefits when applied topically.
Some easy DIY scrub recipes I like to make with used coffee grounds:
- 1 cup used coffee grounds
- 1 cup white or brown sugar
- 1/4 cup olive, coconut, or almond oil
Mix ingredients together thoroughly in a small bowl until a grainy paste forms. Apply in circular motions to skin and rinse. Leaves skin super soft and smooth! The sugar and oil will also help moisturize.
- 1 cup used coffee grounds
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil
Stir ingredients together. Apply to skin and gently scrub in circular motions before rinsing off. The honey helps boost moisture levels in the skin.
Deodorize Fridge and Freezer
The powerful aroma of used coffee grounds can help absorb and neutralize unpleasant fridge odors.
- Place some wet or dry used grounds in a small open container or bowl.
- Put the container on a shelf in the fridge or freezer.
- Replace the grounds weekly.
The grounds will help absorb smells from spills, leftovers, and food containers. It’s especially helpful for tackling stinky odors like fish, onion, and garlic. Much better than using baking soda or commercial air fresheners!
Make DIY Body Oil and Scrubs
Coffee grounds contain compounds like caffeic acid that can provide antioxidant benefits when applied to the skin. I like to harness these benefits by making my own body oils and scrubs with used grounds.
Here’s a simple body oil recipe:
- 1/2 cup used coffee grounds
- 1/2 cup olive oil or coconut oil
- Optional: 5-10 drops essential oil for scent like lavender, citrus, vanilla, etc
Add the ingredients to a small jar and let it infuse for 1-2 weeks, shaking it every few days. Then strain out the grounds through cheesecloth. Apply the oil directly to skin.
For a scrub, use a similar recipe but cut the oil amount in half and add 1/2 cup brown sugar. The grainy texture will gently exfoliate while the oils and antioxidants nourish the skin.
Clean Greasy and Stained Surfaces
Used coffee grounds make an effective non-toxic cleaning scrub for really dirty and greasy surfaces around my home. Grounds help lift up grime without the need for harsh chemicals.
- Remove grease and food stains from pots and pans – just rub grounds directly on the dirty spots. Rinse thoroughly after scrubbing.
- Scrub gunk and residue off outdoor grills and appliances.
- Scour dirty oven racks and baking sheets. Sprinkle grounds on the racks and use a damp sponge or cloth to scrub clean.
- Clean oil splatters on kitchen walls – make a paste with water and lightly scrub walls.
The abrasive texture of the grounds helps get rid of the toughest grime. I just have to use a bit of elbow grease and some grounds to tackle even the most stubborn messes!
Repel Insects and Pests
Used coffee grounds contain natural compounds that can help deter garden pests like slugs, snails, and ants when applied around plants.
Some easy ways to apply used grounds:
- Spread a thick perimeter around garden beds. The abrasive texture irritates small pests. Reapply after rain or watering.
- Mix into soil around plants prone to pests like lettuce and kale. It changes the soil pH in a way pests dislike.
- Sprinkle lightly on top of soil to repel crawling insects. Avoid using too much, which can impact plant growth.
- Bury coarsely ground grounds in upside down lids near pest problem areas. Slugs and snails will be deterred from going over the rough texture.
Using coffee grounds has been really effective at protecting my vegetables from common garden pests. And I save money on chemical pest deterrents!
Eliminate Pet and Baby Bottle Odors
The strong scent of used coffee grounds can be used to tackle tough odor problems like pet accidents and sour-smelling baby bottles.
To eliminate pet odor:
- Lightly sprinkle fresh grounds over the soiled spot after cleaning up the mess.
- Let the grounds sit for 15 minutes to fully absorb the odor before vacuuming up.
For baby bottles:
- Fill bottle with warm soapy water and add 2-3 tablespoons of used coffee grounds.
- Swish the grounds and water mixture around. Rinse thoroughly.
- The grounds will absorb leftover milk that can cause odors.
Coffee’s powerful aroma makes it a very effective odor eliminator for some of the toughest smells!
Fire Starter for Grills and Fireplaces
The flammable characteristics of used coffee grounds make them useful as natural fire starters for grills, fireplaces and campfires.
To make DIY fire starters:
- Mix old coffee grounds with melted wax in a 1:1 ratio. Stir in a few wood shavings or sawdust.
- Pour the mixture into muffin tins lined with paper cups. Allow to fully harden and cool before removing.
- To use, place one fire starter under your kindling before lighting as you normally would.
The wax and grounds burn slowly to help get grills and fires started after just 1-2 minutes of lighting. They work even when slightly wet, making them ideal for camping trips.
I like being able to put my old grounds to use in so many helpful ways around the house instead of tossing them in the trash. With just a little creativity, used coffee grounds can be repurposed for cleaning, fertilizing, skin care, eliminating odors, and more!