Creative Uses for Coffee Grounds

by Beatrice MarkenzonJun 3, 2021

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Each morning, we dump a lump of coffee grounds in the garbage. Shouldn’t there be something we can do with all that waste? As a matter of fact, coffee grounds are one thing that’s easy to reuse and recycle. The coarseness of the grounds, their residual caffeine, their pigment and their nutrients still offer lots of potential uses.

1. Skin exfoliation product

Coffee grounds are a natural exfoliant. They’re easy to mix into a face or body scrub that gently removes dead skin cells. Plus, caffeine has antioxidant properties.[1]

Mix 1 cup coffee grounds from freshly brewed coffee, 6 Tbsp. coconut or jojoba oil and 3 Tbsp. sea salt or white sugar into a jar. Combine until everything is thoroughly incorporated. Apply to your face (like a mask) or anywhere you’d like to exfoliate. Then gently rub the grounds into your skin.

2. Natural dye

Want to add a sepia tone to a light or neutral top? Coffee stains cotton, as many of us have discovered on our way to work while wearing a crisp white shirt. Dyeing any light fabric with coffee adds a beautiful antiqued look to any fabric (when it’s intentional).

3. Fertilizer

An abundance of nutrients makes coffee grounds an incredibly valuable addition to your compost bin. Over time, microorganisms will go to work turning your grounds into super rich and nutritious soil for your garden.

4. Insect repellent

Coffee contains diterpenes, which are toxic to insects. This may make coffee grounds a suitable insect repellent for a person’s garden.

One 2018 study concluded that although coffee grounds were not toxic to ants, it was an effective repellent against them.

Coffee may also be an effective method of mosquito control, as a 2015 study found that mosquitoes were less likely to hatch if coffee was present in their environment.

5. Flea repellent

Fleas also do not like coffee grounds. Because of this, a person might be able to try rubbing coffee grounds into their pet’s fur if they have fleas.

However, before doing so, they should check with a vet to make sure that this method of flea prevention is suitable for their pet.

Caffeine is toxic to cats and dogs, so people should be careful not to let their pet eat coffee grounds. Caffeine poisoning can cause symptoms within around 30 minutes and be fatal.

6. Cleaning product

Coffee grounds are a coarse powder. This means that they are abrasive and that people can use them to scrub surfaces, utensils, or appliances that have ingrained or hard-to-remove dirt.

That said, coffee grounds may be too rough to use on delicate surfaces or utensils.

7. Odor reliever

Save your baking soda for that next batch of cookiesFood & Wine recommends baking your used grounds to dry them, then keeping a cup of them in your refrigerator to absorb smells and act as a deodorizer. You can also use them to eliminate odors in other areas of your home. 

8. Meat tenderizer

Meat tenderizers use enzymes to break down fibers in meat to make it softer and easier to eat. Meat tenderizing powders use acids and enzymes from fruits such as pineapple and papaya.

Coffee grounds are acidic and contain enzymes that can also break down fibers in meat, so a person can try using coffee grounds to soften meat before cooking it.

A person can also marinate the meat in coffee or use coffee grounds as a meat rub to add flavor.

9. Furniture restoration product

A person can also use the strong color of coffee to restore scratched wooden furniture.

After mixing coffee grounds with water, a person can rub the resulting paste into scratches on wooden furniture to match the original color.


We’re all trying our best to find ways to reuse and recycle. Try these tips and feel even better about your morning cup of coffee.

What will you be using your coffee grounds for?

(Article excerpted from