How to Repurpose Your Old Coffee Grounds

How to Repurpose Your Old Coffee Grounds

How to Repurpose Your Old Coffee Grounds


Used coffee grounds are often seen as waste, but they can actually be repurposed in many ways around your home. As an avid coffee drinker myself, I have discovered various creative ways to give my old coffee grounds new life. Repurposing coffee grounds helps reduce waste, saves money on products you’d otherwise have to buy, and can even benefit your indoor plants.

In this article, I will provide an in-depth look at different ways to repurpose coffee grounds, from composting to cleaning to exfoliating. You may be surprised by how versatile this unassuming kitchen “waste” can be!

Composting Coffee Grounds

Composting is one of the easiest and most common ways to repurpose old coffee grounds. The grounds contain nutrients like nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, and copper that plants thrive on.

Here are some tips for composting used coffee grounds:

  • Add grounds directly to your compost bin or pile. They will break down into rich, organic material over time.

  • Mix the grounds into your soil or potting mix to provide nutrients for plants. Coffee grounds make an excellent fertilizer!

  • For indoor composting, keep a small bucket of grounds under your sink. Add other food scraps as they accumulate.

  • Limit the grounds to no more than 20% of your total compost volume, as too much can make the soil acidic.

  • Pair the coffee grounds with “brown” materials like dried leaves, sawdust, or shredded paper to balance the pH.

Composting is an eco-friendly way to reduce waste and improve your soil at the same time. Coffee grounds are an ideal addition.

Scrubbing Surfaces and Cleaning Pans

Used coffee grounds make a surprisingly effective abrasive scrub for cleaning countertops, appliances, bakeware, and more. The gritty texture helps remove sticky or baked-on residue.

Here’s how to leverage old coffee grounds for cleaning:

  • Make a paste by mixing grounds with a little water or lemon juice. Apply and scrub stained areas.

  • Sprinkle grounds directly onto pans or casserole dishes that have food caked on. Add water and scrub with a sponge to lift residue.

  • For sink cleaning, dump wet used grounds in and scrub with a brush. They help remove odors and stains.

  • Mix a half cup of grounds with dish soap. Use this mixture to scrub bathtubs, appliances, sinks, etc. The grounds lift stains.

  • Make a coffee ground steel wool by filling an old sock with used grounds. Use to scour pots or sharp corners.

Thanks to their scrubbing power on grease, grime, and more, repurposed coffee grounds are a must-have cleaning helper.

Exfoliating Skin

Along with cleaning counters, used coffee grounds also make an energizing exfoliant for your skin. The coarse texture sloughs off dead cells, leaving skin feeling refreshed and renewed.

Some ideas for exfoliating with repurposed coffee grounds:

  • Mix a tablespoon of grounds with any liquid oil, like olive or coconut. Massage into damp skin in circular motions before rinsing.

  • For lips, make a lip scrub by combining a teaspoon of coffee grounds with a teaspoon of honey or oil. Gently buff lips to remove dry flakes.

  • Make a rejuvenating face or body scrub by mixing used grounds with coconut oil and sugar. Add essential oils if desired.

  • Mix coffee grounds with aloe vera gel for an invigorating scrub that won’t clog drains like oil-based scrubs.

  • For feet, sprinkle used grounds inside socks and walk around to exfoliate calluses.

Repurposed as an exfoliant, coffee grounds leave skin smooth and glowing. Just be sure to rinse them thoroughly, as leaving grounds on skin can stain temporarily.

Fertilizing Houseplants

In addition to garden composting, used coffee grounds make an excellent fertilizer to sprinkle onto indoor houseplants. The grounds slowly release essential nutrients into the soil.

Here are some tips for fertilizing with repurposed coffee grounds:

  • Sprinkle dry grounds lightly on top of the soil around plants. Mixing into the soil is not necessary.

  • Target acid-loving plants like azaleas, rhododendrons, roses, hydrangeas, blueberry shrubs, etc. They benefit most from coffee’s acidity.

  • For potted plants, add a spoonful of coffee grounds each time you water. This provides a gradual fertilizer source.

  • Avoid using grounds on plants that prefer less acidic soil, like dracaenas, jade plants, and ferns. It may make the soil too acidic for their preferences.

  • Only apply grounds to houseplants about once per week to avoid over-fertilizing.

Reusing old coffee grounds helps reduce waste while providing a nutritional boost to indoor plants. Moderation is key to avoid shocking plant roots.

Deodorizing Fridges and Freezers

That stale, funky smell in the fridge or freezer is no match for used coffee grounds. Thanks to their absorbent properties, the grounds soak up odors like a charm.

Here’s how to leverage repurposed coffee grounds to deodorize refrigerators:

  • Place dry used grounds in a small open container or bag. Store this in the fridge or freezer to absorb odors.

  • Change out the grounds weekly for maximum odor-fighting power. Overly damp grounds lose efficacy.

  • For a major deep clean, remove all food from the fridge. Sprinkle used coffee grounds onto the shelves, let sit 10 minutes, then wipe clean. This kills bacteria and eliminates odors.

  • Target notoriously stinky areas like the cheese drawer, produce bin, meat keeper, etc. Grounds tackle food odors head-on.

  • For a speedy mini-deodorizer, put a spoonful of grounds on a paper plate. Let sit on a shelf overnight to absorb smells.

With their powerful odor-eliminating abilities, repurposed coffee grounds are the perfect fridge and freezer deodorizer.

Deterring Garden Pests

Used coffee grounds can also be employed in the garden to deter pests like slugs, ants, and cats that might nibble on plants. The grounds emit a strong scent and texture that makes creatures steer clear of treated areas.

Some ideas for deterring garden pests with repurposed coffee grounds:

  • Create protective barriers by spreading grounds thickly around plant bases, borders, or entry points.

  • Sprinkle a ring of dry used grounds around any seedlings or shoots to block slugs. Reapply after rain or watering.

  • Mix 50/50 coffee grounds and cayenne pepper. Sprinkle this mixture around plants to repel ants.

  • Add used coffee grounds to the top few inches of garden soil to prevent cats from digging in those areas.

  • Use grounds to fill dug holes created by burrowing animals so they move on to other areas.

With persistence and repetition, repurposed coffee grounds can drive all sorts of critters away from precious garden plants. Reapply after heavy rain for best results.


As you can see, old coffee grounds offer a diverse range of helpful uses around the home, garden, and with houseplants. Repurposing grounds reduces waste, saves money, and helps extend the value of your morning brew.

Next time you brew coffee, don’t discard those fragrant grounds just yet. With a little creativity, you can give them new life through composting, cleaning, exfoliating, fertilizing, deodorizing, or deterring pests. Experiment to find your favorite ways to reuse coffee grounds. Your plants and home will thank you!