Last Updated on April 6, 2022
Do you drink a lot of coffee and wonder what to do with leftover coffee grounds? If you’ve wondered to yourself, “Can you reuse coffee grounds?” you’ll be thrilled to learn that yes, you can reuse coffee grounds, though you probably won’t enjoy another cup of coffee made with them. Don’t let that valuable material go to waste! It turns out there are numerous cool uses for coffee grounds beyond brewing coffee.
WHAT TO DO WITH USED COFFEE GROUNDS
You probably already know coffee is one of those superfoods, rich in compounds linked to better health. I like to take my coffee habit up a notch and make Four Sigmatic’s incredible tasting coffee infused with the added superpowers of medicinal mushrooms. (No, it doesn’t taste at all like mushrooms! Just delicious, organic coffee with extra benefits, I promise. Try it for yourself and get 10% off with the code ‘SAVVY.’)
When I’m done brewing my supercharged coffee, the used coffee grounds mostly wind up in the compost pail, but occasionally I make use of them for other purposes. What to do with used coffee grounds? Below are more than 35 uses for coffee grounds you can try before you feed them to your garden.
You can use coffee grounds in the garden or around the house for a surprising number of purposes. Used coffee grounds turn out to be rich in nutrients, which is great for your garden plants. Coffee grounds have loads of uses outside the garden as well, for cleaning, skincare, crafts, and more.
This post got so long I moved the information on how to use coffee grounds in the garden to a separate post. The short version of how to use coffee grounds in the garden: They’re best off in the compost rather than directly in the soil. Read the post linked above for more details.
CAN YOU REUSE COFFEE GROUNDS?
I totally get wanting to stretch something as pricey as coffee beans for a second cup of coffee. But the answer to the question “Can you reuse coffee grounds to make more coffee?” is a resounding NO.
If you’ve ever tried re-brewing used coffee grounds to make another cup of coffee, you’ll know what you get is a weak, brown liquid that has little of coffee’s delectable flavor. (Though it is being studied for use as source of antioxidants and as a natural pesticide!)
Apparently if you’re a cold-brew coffee lover, you may get something passable from a second brewing with your used coffee grounds, but it won’t be anywhere near as flavorful. Since the cold-brew method uses so much more coffee per cup, reusing your grounds might make help it be a less wasteful practice.
As for me, I’m going to stick with the rich flavor of a fresh-brewed espresso and use my spent coffee grounds for plants rather than a second cup of weak, flavorless “coffee.”
If you want to reuse coffee grounds, here are 35 better ways to put them to use than trying to brew more coffee with them!
DRYING USED COFFEE GROUNDS
If you’re going to save your used coffee grounds for later, you need to dry them first or they’ll grow mold. For garden uses, you can bring used coffee grounds directly to the garden without drying, but if you’re going to do something like leave them in a dish as an odor absorber, dry them before storing.
To dry used coffee grounds:
Spread in a think layer on a baking sheet (I like these easy to clean stainless steel ones.). If the air in your house is dry, you may get your coffee grounds to dry completely without added heat, but if not, set your oven to the lowest temperature and turn it off after it warms up. It doesn’t need to get much above 100 to create a good dry environment that will take the moisture out of your used coffee grounds.
COFFEE GROUNDS USES AROUND THE HOUSE
Used coffee grounds are surprisingly useful around the house! Check out all these uses for used coffee grounds for cleaning, deodorizing, and more.
You can get even more out of your coffee grounds by using them two more times, once for something like scrubbing or odor absorption and then again for your garden. So scrub a cup or put out a bowl of dried coffee grounds to absorb odor, and then pop your twice used coffee grounds into the compost or the garden.
This list is long, so I’m putting my top recommendations first.
CLEANING WITH USED COFFEE GROUNDS
REMOVE STAINS FROM TEACUPS
My favorite way to use coffee grounds is to clean those brown stains that accumulate on mugs from all the tea and coffee we drink around here. How cool is it that you can use coffee grounds to clean the stains made by your coffee habit?
I haven’t seen this suggestion in any other posts on uses for coffee grounds, so when I learned that you could use coffee grounds to scour pots (see below), I thought I’d see how it did removing tea stains.
It worked like a charm, as you can see!
We drink a lot of tea and coffee around here, and the insides of our many mugs acquire brown stains from tea tannins and coffee oils. I used to use baking soda to wipe it off, but using something I have around anyway and don’t have to buy saves a little time and money. Plus, since that baking soda doesn’t have to be produced and shipped, there’s one less thing adding to my ecological footprint.
To clean stains from cups with used coffee grounds:
Take a small amount of used coffee grounds and wipe the sides of the cup using your hand or a dark rag to push them around. The brown stain magically disappears! Check out the before and after photos above.
The bottom of cups can be a little hard to reach. A rag or a used tea bag helps push the grounds around at the bottom. Compost the coffee grounds when you’re done and enjoy your sparkling clean cup!
SCOUR POTS WITH USED COFFEE GROUNDS
Because coffee grounds are abrasive, they can make an effective scouring powder. Try them on pots and pans that need a little extra cleaning power. Used coffee grounds are also useful for removing grease from plates and bowls, though you should be careful to compost the greasy grounds rather than sending them down the drain, where they’ll make clogs more likely.
USE COFFEE GROUNDS TO CLEAN THE FIREPLACE
If you don’t love the mess of cleaning out fireplace ash, you can throw spent coffee grounds in the fireplace to help keep dust under control.
Some innovative companies are using coffee grounds to make logs used for home heating or biodegradable cups, ways to save energy and resources by putting materials to use that would otherwise wind up in a landfill.
USED COFFEE GROUNDS FOR FIGHTING ODORS
Coffee grounds are effective at absorbing unwanted odors in a number of places, including your refrigerator, garbage disposal, or shoes.
USED COFFEE GROUNDS AIR FRESHENER
A bowl of used coffee grounds can be used to absorb odors and make the air in your home smell better. Be sure to dry your coffee grounds first or they’ll grow mold.
Place dried coffee grounds in a dish and leave out where you’d like to refresh the air. You can also store them in a paper bag with holes punched in them if you’d rather conceal them.
USED COFFEE GROUNDS AS FRIDGE REFRESHER
If you want a cost-free way to absorb odors in your fridge, place a small dish or jar of dried coffee grounds to soak up smells you don’t want. Replace with fresh grounds every few weeks for a better-smelling refrigerator.
USE COFFEE GROUNDS TO DE-STINK GYM SHOES
Place dried coffee grounds in an empty tea bag and place in stinky shoes overnight to remove odor. Enjoy your less-smelly sneakers!
USE COFFEE GROUNDS TO GET SMELL OFF SKIN
The odor-removing ability of coffee grounds doesn’t just work for taking smells from the air. You can use it to get smells like garlic off your hands by rubbing them with coffee grounds and then rinsing with water.
USED COFFEE GROUNDS FOR DEODORIZING THE GARBAGE DISPOSAL
If your garbage disposal doesn’t smell great, put those odor-absorbing coffee grounds to use freshening it. It’s probably not the best idea to just toss large amounts of coffee grounds down the drain, but you can make disposal freshener tablets that use coffee grounds to deodorize. Here’s a tutorial for making them if you’re interested in trying.
But if you want to be really green about your waste, you won’t use a garbage disposal, which in addition to using water and electricity, sends all those valuable nutrients into the wastewater treatment system rather than putting them to work growing more plants. Here’s more on why to skip the disposal and compost instead.
OTHER HOUSEHOLD USES FOR USED COFFEE GROUNDS
DISGUISE SCRATCHES IN WOOD
If you’ve got an older house, you’ll love that you can use your used coffee grounds to liven up old woodwork. This works best when the coffee grounds are still a bit damp and the scratches are very small.
I tried using coffee grounds on a table with some serious wear in the finish, and the results were barely noticeable. Rubbing those areas with oil worked better than using coffee grounds.
A table with just a little wear polished up better with the used coffee grounds, but also looks much improved when rubbed with oil. Given how much messier it is to use coffee grounds, I probably won’t turn to them much for this purpose.
If you do want to try using coffee grounds as a wood refresher, try mixing them with oil and allowing them to sit a few hours before removing and buffing.
This video has a good demo of the process as well as of several other uses for coffee grounds mentioned above.
USED COFFEE GROUNDS WOOD STAIN
Coffee grounds can be used to make your own stain for unfinished wood. You just steep coffee grounds overnight in vinegar and the next morning have a DIY wood stain. Here’s more on how to use coffee grounds to make wood stain from Family Handyman.
USING COFFEE GROUNDS ON HOUSEPLANTS
You can also use coffee grounds as fertilizer for your houseplants, but you need to proceed with caution. Houseplants live in pots with far less soil than in your garden, and too much coffee ground fertilizer may not make them very happy.
You can sprinkle the soil of houseplants with a small amount of coffee grounds, or you can steep coffee grounds in water for a day or two before diluting and using it to water the plants. Some houseplant experts warn that coffee grounds on the surface of the soil may trap moisture and encourage fungal growth.
Not all plants will be happy with the caffeine in your coffee ground fertilizer, so start with a small amount and see how your plants respond.
Here are some of the best plants for cleaning indoor air.
KEEP FLOWERS FRESH
A scoop of used coffee grounds in a vase of flowers can work as a natural plant food to help keep flowers fresh. Just use a vase you can’t see through, as the water won’t look terribly pretty.
DIY COCKROACH TRAP
Do you have a problem with roaches? Curiously, unlike ants and slugs, cockroaches seem to like the smell of coffee grounds, so they can be attracted and killed with this simple DIY cockroach trap.
OUTDOOR USES FOR COFFEE GROUNDS
USE COFFEE GROUNDS TO REPEL PESTS
The smell of coffee grounds helps repel some pests. Placing used coffee grounds around the perimeter of your house may help deter ants.
Putting used coffee grounds around the border of your yard may also help discourage neighborhood cats who like to use your garden as a litter box.
Reapply with fresh coffee grounds regularly to keep the pest repellent odor fresh.
Some people burn dried coffee grounds to repel mosquitoes like a citronella candle.
COFFEE GROUNDS FLEA TREATMENT FOR PETS
Remember all those garden critters who don’t like the smell of coffee? The fleas on your cats and dog don’t either! You can rub used coffee grounds in their fur to drive out itchy pests. Your cat may not be thrilled with this process, so maybe save this use for coffee grounds for your dog.
However, coffee is toxic to pets, so if you choose to try this use for coffee grounds, do rinse them very thoroughly.
To give your pet a coffee ground flea treatment, proponents suggest rubbing 1 to 2 cups of coffee grounds into their fur before rinsing well.
USE COFFEE GROUNDS FOR GRIP ON WINTER ICE
We get a ridiculous amount of snow and ice on our sidewalks here in Minnesota, and salt and bagged sand aren’t great for the environment. Some used coffee grounds, however, mostly wind up back in our garden, where they contribute nutrients and organic matter, when the snow finally melts.
If you want to use coffee grounds to provide traction on your ice, you’ll need to collect and dry enough coffee grounds first. Save them in a container and sprinkle on slippery surfaces as needed.
ADD USED COFFEE GROUNDS TO FISH BAIT
If you like to fish, you may already know that some spent coffee grounds in the bait box can help keep worms alive longer. Better still, apparently fish enjoy the smell of coffee-infused worms!
COFFEE GROUNDS USES FOR SKIN & BEAUTY CARE
USED COFFEE GROUNDS SKIN SCRUB
Coffee grounds’ use as a scouring agent makes used coffee grounds a great free skin scrub. Plus it smells yummy.
To make an easy skin or lip scrub, combine coffee grounds with a little honey or oil and gently rub the area.
Coffee grounds mixed with a little oil can make a soothing, smoothing foot scrub as well. Add a few drops of peppermint oil for extra scent and cooling.
Here’s more information on making skin scrubs with coffee grounds from Eco-Living Mama.
If you like skin scrubs and want to keep some on hand or give them as gifts, check out this easy-peasy DIY sugar scrub tutorial.
Note that if you’re using something like coconut oil, you want to be extra careful about what gets washed down the drain. Coconut oil and coffee grounds make clogs much more likely. A liquid oil should pose fewer problems, but I’d still be careful about sending too many coffee grounds down the bathroom sink.
USE COFFEE GROUNDS TO SOOTHE IRRITATED SKIN
Coffee grounds applied to a sunburn, acne, or skin affected by rosacea may benefit from a poultice of cool, damp coffee grounds. Apply to the affected area and leave for 15 minutes before rinsing.
HOMEMADE SOAP WITH COFFEE GROUNDS
If you’re looking for an easy homemade gift, some melt-and-pour soap is a simple DIY anyone can do. The coffee lovers in your life will love this delicious-smelling soap with some extra exfoliating power. The scrubbing power makes this soap a natural gift for gardeners in your life.
USED COFFEE GROUNDS HAIR BUILDUP REMOVER
Used coffee grounds can help remove product residue, and some sources suggest that coffee grounds also help stimulate hair growth. You can try scrubbing your scalp with used coffee grounds and see if you notice healthier-looking hair.
USED COFFEE GROUNDS EYE DE-PUFFER
Remember that used coffee grounds retain some caffeine? Caffeine is useful for de-puffing areas of skin like around the eyes and according to this study can work as a topical antioxidant.
To reduce puffiness under eyes, apply chilled coffee grounds and leave for ten minutes before rinsing. I tested this one out, and didn’t see very noticeable results. I suggest using very finely ground coffee and mixing with a little oil to help it stick.
USED COFFEE GROUNDS FACE MASK
To make a coffee grounds face mask, combine used coffee grounds with a little honey or yogurt and apply to skin. Leave on for 10-20 minutes and rinse.
A coffee grounds face mask would work for a Halloween costume requiring a beard 🙂
COFFEE-INFUSED OIL FOR SKIN & LIP BALM
If you don’t love the grit of coffee grounds in your beauty products, you can infuse oil with them, which will slowly extract the antioxidants and caffeine. You can use it as a serum anywhere you’d like to de-puff or add to products like skin and lip balms.
Here’s a recipe for a lip balm made with coffee ground infused oil.
USED COFFEE GROUNDS HAIR RINSE
To make a shine-enhancing hair rinse, steep used coffee grounds for 20 minutes. After washing and conditioning, spray the coffee infusion on your hair and leave on for 20 minutes before rinsing. You can also make a hair mask by combining conditioner with coffee grounds and following the same process.
USED COFFEE GROUNDS HAIR DYE
You can apply used coffee grounds directly to hair for some natural color enhancement, or if you’re after some more serious coloring, you can combine coffee grounds with strong brewed coffee and some conditioner. Instructions here.
REDUCE THE APPEARANCE OF CELLULITE
Some would have you believe that the caffeine in coffee grounds actually gets rid of cellulite, but alas, it only makes it less noticeable. If you want to firm up skin temporarily, you can use a coffee ground scrub on the area, massaging it in before removing.
CRAFTS WITH USED COFFEE GROUNDS
You can reuse coffee grounds for a number of crafts, from dyeing your own yarn and cloth, to making fun crafts with kiddos.
DIY COFFEE-COLORED DYE FOR FABRIC & YARN
You can use old coffee grounds for dyeing yarn or fabric, as well as Easter eggs (if you need a brownish color for some reason).
If you make a strong infusion of used coffee grounds, you could also use it as a natural watercolor.
USE COFFEE GROUNDS TO “ANTIQUE” PAPER
Give plain ol’ paper a fun antique look with a dip in some coffee-colored water. Have fun making treasure maps or old-looking documents.
MAKE A COFFEE-SCENTED CANDLE
Used coffee grounds can make your candles smell like a coffee shop! Here’s a fun tutorial for making coffee grounds candles using an old coffee cup.
KIDS CRAFTS USING COFFEE GROUNDS
Kids will love these treasure stones with surprises to find inside. Put dragon figures in and call them dragon eggs, or dinosaur figures and make it part of a paleontological dig, or choose some interesting polished stones and let kids go gem hunting. Kids absolutely love these activities!
You can also use coffee grounds in DIY “fossils” using sand and used coffee grounds. Tutorial here.
RECIPES USING COFFEE GROUNDS
Though they won’t make a good cup of coffee, what’s left in your used coffee grounds can add some flavor to food. Used coffee grounds are a popular ingredient in marinades and chocolate baked goods.
COFFEE GROUND SPICE RUB OR MARINADE
When you’re done cooking, try using coffee grounds to clean the grill!
HOMEMADE “ESPRESSO POWDER”
If you’ve baked decadent chocolate treats, you may have come across recipes calling for “espresso powder” to enhance chocolate flavor. Espresso powder can be hard to find and very expensive, and guess what? You can make a pretty decent substitute from used coffee grounds! Here’s a tutorial on making your own espresso powder from used coffee grounds.
ADD COFFEE GROUNDS TO BAKED GOODS & DESSERTS
Used coffee grounds can add coffee flavor to chocolate desserts. Try these tempting recipes using leftover coffee grounds!
Cafe Mocha Cookies (Table for Two)
Leftover Espresso Grounds Brownies (Fork in the Road)
Espresso Chocolate Chunk Brownies (First Year Blog)
Coffee Grounds Biscotti (The Splendid Table)
Coffee Grounds Ice cream (Food52)
Food 52 has a recipe for a French silk pie that uses coffee grounds to infuse the cream, and add richness to the cookie crust. Brilliant!
If you’re interested in living more sustainably, you want to make use of all the materials you can as many times as you can. Using used coffee grounds for other purposes is just one way to live a little more sustainably. Here’s a primer on sustainable living. Pick up a free sustainable living worksheet to help make your journey to sustainability a little easier.
–> Did you know that many things you normally toss in the trash or compost, such as banana peels and parts of fruits and vegetables are actually edible? Here are more 40 root-to-stem recipes to help you use nutritious ingredients like carrot tops, broccoli stems, and squash seeds.
If you’ve got oranges, be sure to check out these 30 creative uses for orange peels.
Have you ever reused coffee grounds? Share your favorite ways to reuse coffee grounds in the comments!
Pin to save these uses for coffee grounds for later!
Additional coffee grounds uses photo credits (cover and pin): NorGal, svehlik, ThamKC
Susannah is a proud garden geek and energy nerd who loves healthy food and natural remedies. Her work has appeared in Mother Earth Living, Ensia, Northern Gardener, Sierra, and on numerous websites. Her first book, Everything Elderberry, released in September 2020 and has been a #1 new release in holistic medicine, naturopathy, herb gardening, and other categories. Find out more and grab your copy here.