How to Upcycle Used Coffee Grounds

How to Upcycle Used Coffee Grounds

How to Upcycle Used Coffee Grounds


Reusing and repurposing items that would otherwise be thrown away is often called “upcycling.” Upcycling helps reduce waste and gives new life to materials. Used coffee grounds are an excellent candidate for upcycling. With a little creativity, I can transform my used coffee grounds into useful products for my home and garden. In this article, I will discuss several ways to upcycle used coffee grounds and get the most out of this free and versatile material.

Fertilize Plants

Coffee grounds make a fantastic fertilizer for indoor and outdoor plants. The grounds are rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, providing nutrients that help plants grow.

Here are some tips for using coffee grounds as fertilizer:

  • Work the grounds into the top few inches of soil around plants. This allows the nutrients to absorb into the root zone.

  • Used grounds can go straight into potted plants. Mix some into the potting soil before planting or scratch them lightly into the surface of existing pots.

  • For vegetable and flower gardens, sprinkle the grounds lightly around the base of plants every couple of weeks.

  • Coffee grounds help acid-loving plants like azaleas, blueberries, and hydrangeas thrive. Concentrate the grounds around these acid-lovers.

  • Do not use freshly brewed grounds as they can give off acids that damage delicate roots and leaves. Allow grounds to dry fully before applying to plants.

Key Benefits

  • Provides nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and other nutrients
  • Balances pH levels in soil
  • Improves soil drainage and moisture retention
  • Deters pests like slugs and snails
  • Is free and widely available

Make Exfoliating Scrubs

Used coffee grounds make an exceptional base for homemade exfoliating scrubs. The coarse texture of the grounds scrubs away dead skin cells, leaving skin feeling smooth and rejuvenated.

Here is my favorite simple coffee scrub recipe:

  • Mix 2 cups used coffee grounds with 1 cup olive oil or coconut oil. Add a few drops of essential oil for scent if desired.

  • Apply the scrub to dry skin and massage in circular motions before rinsing. Focus on rough patches like heels, elbows, and knees.

  • Store leftover scrub in an airtight container. Use within 3-4 weeks for best results.

Benefits of Coffee Scrubs

  • Gently exfoliates and polishes skin
  • Increases circulation
  • Helps reduce appearance of cellulite
  • Leaves skin smooth and moisturized

Make Play Dough

Used coffee grounds can add color and texture when mixed into homemade play dough. The grounds provide a natural brown dye and their gritty texture contrasts nicely with the smooth dough.

Here is a simple play dough recipe using used grounds:

  • Mix 1 cup used coffee grounds with 2 cups flour, 1 cup salt, 2 tablespoons oil, and 1 to 1.5 cups water.
  • Stir ingredients together in a pot then heat over medium, stirring constantly until dough forms into a ball.
  • Once slightly cooled, knead the dough briefly until smooth, adding extra flour if too sticky.
  • Store covered at room temperature.

Benefits of Coffee Ground Play Dough

  • Provides natural, long-lasting color
  • Has an interesting, sandy texture kids enjoy
  • Reduces overall dough stickiness
  • Has a pleasant coffee aroma

Deodorize Fridge and Freezer

That stale coffee smell permeating from your fridge or freezer can be absorbed using fresh coffee grounds. Placing some grounds in a small container will help neutralize odors lingering in your appliances.

Here’s how to use them as a deodorizer:

  • Place 1/4 cup fresh, dry grounds in an open container or bag.

  • Put the container on a shelf towards the back of the fridge or freezer.

  • Replace the used grounds with a fresh batch weekly.

Why It Works

Coffee grounds absorb and trap odors rather than simply masking them. The grounds soak up stale smells so only their pleasant aroma remains. They are powerful enough to tackle even persistent odors like fish, onions and old leftovers.


With some creativity, used coffee grounds can be upcycled into products that are both useful and eco-friendly. From fertilizing gardens to exfoliating skin, the possibilities are endless. Upcycling used grounds helps reduce waste while unlocking their potential to improve other areas of my home and life. I encourage you to look at spent grounds as a versatile resource rather than just trash.