How to Repurpose Used Coffee Grounds at Home

How to Repurpose Used Coffee Grounds at Home

Coffee is one of the most popular beverages worldwide. After brewing coffee, used coffee grounds are often discarded. However, throwing away used coffee grounds is wasteful since they still have many uses. Repurposing used coffee grounds is an easy and environmentally-friendly practice that anyone can do at home. There are numerous ways to give used coffee grounds a second life.

Fertilizer for Plants

Coffee grounds contain essential nutrients that are beneficial for plants. The grounds are rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium – key ingredients found in commercial fertilizers. Used coffee grounds make excellent organic fertilizer.

Here are some tips for using coffee grounds as plant fertilizer:

  • Scatter the grounds loosely around the base of plants. Focus on applying them around the roots.
  • For potted plants, mix some grounds into the soil. I add about 1-2 tablespoons per pot.
  • Sprinkle them into your garden beds before planting. Till them into the top few inches of soil.
  • Store unused grounds in an airtight container. Use them anytime your plants need a nutritional boost.

Coffee grounds help improve soil drainage and aeration. The grounds also retain moisture well. Using coffee grounds as fertilizer produces noticeably lush, healthy plants. Roses and azaleas especially thrive with this organic fertilizer.

Compost Additive

Used coffee grounds are considered “green” compost material. Adding grounds to your compost bin provides a good source of carbon and extra nutrients for beneficial microorganisms.

Follow these composting tips:

  • Mix 1 part coffee grounds with 2 parts “brown” material like dry leaves or straw. This combination prevents the compost from getting too acidic.
  • Sprinkle grounds into the compost pile every time you add food scraps from the kitchen.
  • Turn and mix the compost pile frequently to aerate it and speed decomposition. Moisture and oxygen are essential.
  • Avoid using coffee grounds from flavored coffee like vanilla or hazelnut. The additives may contain oils that can hinder the composting process.

The grounds retain moisture and provide an optimal environment for composting microbes. Including coffee grounds will boost the nutritional value of your homemade compost.

Natural Deodorizer

Coffee grounds can absorb and neutralize smells. Place used grounds in open containers around areas that tend to get stinky. The grounds will help absorb odors from:

  • Pet areas like litter boxes or crates
  • Refrigerators and trash cans
  • Cars or RVs
  • Workout equipment

For strongest deodorizing power, use coarsely ground coffee. You can set out a bowl of wet used grounds to remove bad smells from a room. Allow the wet grounds to dry fully before disposal to prevent mold growth.

Homemade Cosmetics

The coarse texture of used coffee grounds makes them ideal for exfoliating skin. Their caffeine content also helps improve blood circulation. Turn those leftover grounds into rejuvenating DIY cosmetics:

  • Make body scrubs by mixing grounds with coconut oil and essential oils like vanilla or grapefruit. Gently scrub onto skin and rinse.
  • Combine grounds with Shea butter or jojoba oil to create moisturizing skin masks.
  • Add a tablespoon of grounds to your bottle of shampoo to give hair an extra deep clean.
  • Mix grounds into handmade soaps for an invigorating exfoliating bar.

Be sure to do a patch test before applying coffee-based cosmetics to your body to check for allergic reactions. Store homemade scrubs and masks in the refrigerator to keep the oils from going rancid.

Cleaning Uses

Spent coffee grounds have mild abrasive and absorbent properties. Add them to your arsenal of non-toxic household cleaners. Some examples:

  • Rub damp grounds on cookware bottoms to remove baked on grease and food residue. Rinse afterward.
  • Deodorize the garbage disposal by grinding a few tablespoons of grounds inside it. Run cold water before and after.
  • Make a gentle scouring powder by mixing grounds with baking soda and a few drops of castile soap. Keep near the sink for tough cleaning jobs.
  • Spread wet grounds on a counter and use a sponge to lightly scrub away stains. The grounds will act like a non-scratch pad.

Be sure to promptly clean up and dispose of any grounds after using them to avoid sticky messes. They can stain fabric and grout if left wet.

Fire Starter

Used coffee grounds are very flammable when dry. Take advantage of this property by transforming the grounds into DIY fire starters.

  • Shape dry grounds into compact “logs” about 1 inch thick and let them fully dry. Use them just like store-bought fireplace logs.
  • Combine air-dried grounds with melted wax to make long-burning fire starter cubes or use them in campfire starters.
  • Place dry grounds inside emptied egg cartons. Pour melted wax over the top and allow it to harden. Break off one section at a time to start fires.

The grounds ignite quickly and burn slowly and steadily. They’re an inexpensive and effective fire starting material.

Pest Repellent

Coffee grounds can deter common garden pests like slugs and snails. These slimy creatures dislike crawling over the coarse, abrasive texture of spent grounds.

Sprinkle the used grounds in a protective ring around valuable landscaping plants. Try encircling the base of vegetable seedlings or flower beds to create a prickly barrier against snails and slugs. Reapply after heavy rain.

The grounds won’t necessarily kill garden pests, but can help redirect them away from precious plants. It’s an organic and pet-friendly repellent option.

Activated Charcoal

With further processing, used coffee grounds can be converted into activated charcoal. This odorless black powder has many uses:

  • Water filtration – absorbs impurities from water
  • Teeth whitening – removes stains when mixed with toothpaste
  • Skin/facial masks – pulls toxins from skin and minimizes pores
  • Digestive health – taken as a supplement, it traps toxins

Making activated charcoal is complex. You’ll need to heat the dry grounds to very high temperatures with certain chemical agents. This process is likely best left to the professionals. But you can buy activated charcoal that came from recycled coffee grounds.


As you can see, used coffee grounds have endless applications around the home. They deserve more than just being dumped in the trash every morning. With a little creativity, it’s easy to find new uses for those grounds leftover after brewing your daily cup of java. Repurposing coffee grounds reduces waste while saving you money on products like fertilizer and beauty supplies too.