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28 Uses For Spent Coffee Grounds You’ll Actually Want To Try

I don’t know about you, but I’m not a morning person.

I need a good strong cup of coffee every day to reanimate me and propel me into whatever responsibilities I have on the agenda.

It’s best not to talk to me before I’ve had my first cup. Actually, it might not be a bad idea if you don’t look at me either. It’s for your safety.

Oh, but after that first magical sip? “I love you, Coffee,” comes rushing past my lips and I’m human again. It’s the first coherent thing I say every morning.

Naturally, we coffee drinkers end up with a lot of spent coffee grounds.

Instead of pitching coffee grounds in the trash, check out this list of genius ways to use them around your home.

Coffee Ground Uses In the Kitchen:

1. Gentle Abrasive for Cleaning Annoying Stuck on Food

Coffee grounds are a gentle way to scour crusty cooked-on food. I’m looking at you, frittata pan!

Throw some coffee grounds in that dish you are cleaning for an easy and cheap abrasive that will bust up that gunk without damaging your dishes.

This method works exceptionally well on cast iron where you don’t want to mess up that hard-earned seasoning.

2. Odor Absorbing Power

Put an open jar of coffee grounds in your fridge or freezer to absorb any funky odors and keep your food fresh. Switch them out with new grounds once a month or even sooner if your fridge has odor problems to begin with.

3. Fight Funky Cooking Smells

Oh man, do I love a good fish fry! What I don’t love is smelling it in my kitchen the next day.

Simmer one cup of coffee grounds and two cups of water on your stove while you are cooking foods with a strong odor. This deodorizes the air at the source, leaving your kitchen odor free after dinner!

4. Remove Garlic and Onion Smell from Your Hands

Keep a jar of coffee grounds next to the sink. When you are finished handling onions and garlic scrub your hands with a couple of teaspoons of coffee grounds.

Not only will this cut through the smell, but it will also leave your hands exfoliated and smooth.

5. Meat Marinade/Rub

If you’re looking for an easy way to get a smoky flavor in your meat, toss a tablespoon of coffee grounds into your marinade or rub them directly onto your meat before cooking. This is an excellent trick if you aren’t grilling but still want that charred flavor.

Outside:

6. Ice Melter

In the wintertime, take those coffee grounds outside! Use your leftover coffee grounds to help clear icy sidewalks. The natural acidity of coffee helps to melt ice faster, and the gritty texture offers you sure-footed traction.

7. Clean Your Grill

Dab a damp sponge into coffee grounds, and use these them to scour a gunky grill. Rinse thoroughly with water and enjoy a mess-free barbecue.

8. Repel Mosquitoes Naturally

Burning coffee grounds keeps those blood-suckers at bay during the hot summer months.

BE SMART! Be careful when handling fire and keep away from pets and children.

Place a layer of dry coffee grounds about ½” deep in a tin pie dish. Add one or two drops of charcoal lighter fluid. Light with a long match or long-necked lighter. After about a minute or two once the grounds are smoking on their own, smother with a damp paper towel. The coffee grounds will keep burning, and you can enjoy the outdoors bug-free.

9. Keep Cats Out of Your Yard

Say “Bye Felicia!” to unwanted feline visitors.

Cats aren’t a fan of the pungent smell of coffee, so sprinkle coffee grounds liberally around your yard to keep them out.

This works well if you create a border of coffee grounds around your garden, it will keep cats from using it as a litter box. I read in several places that this also keeps rabbits out. Give it a try!

Arts & Crafts:

10. Natural Brown Dye

Using coffee grounds as a natural dye can produce some gorgeous shades of brown.

Use it to dye yarn – here is a fantastic, detailed post from Sew Serena on how to do it.

And of course, if you can dye yarn, fabric is the logical next step, as shown over at WikiHow.

Use it to dye Aida cloth to give needlework pieces an heirloom feel, as shown here at The Spruce Crafts. (I have personally used this method to dye a project and it works well…even if I still haven’t finished stitching it three years later. Oops!)

You can have a 50 Shades of Tan Easter basket by using coffee to dye your Easter eggs. This one is easy requiring you to boil the old coffee grounds with the eggs in a pot with enough water to cover the eggs by an inch and two tablespoons of vinegar. Add as little or as much coffee grounds as you like and experiment with ratios and how long you let the eggs sit in the dye bath to get different shades.

11. Fake Beard Stubble for Halloween

This one just might be my favorite. If you want a realistic-looking five o’clock shadow this Halloween rub a good layer of cold cream or petroleum jelly on your face in the pattern of your beard. You don’t want to rub it in; you want there to be a tacky layer sitting on top of your skin. Now gently pat dry coffee grounds on your face. Ta-dah!

12. Realistic Dirt Playdough for the Kiddos

This takes playing with playdough to a whole other level! Break out the dinosaurs and the army men and mix up a batch of this super-fun (and delicious smelling) kids playdough.

13. Give Your Wood Projects a Weathered Look

A few simple ingredients that you probably already have around your house are all you need to make a natural wood stain.

Coffee grounds, vinegar, and steel wool create a dye that gives your projects a weathered look. Check out Lolitha’s post here for full details.

14. Closet and Drawer Air Freshener

Even the most uncrafty person can manage this little gem. Cut the foot off a pair of old stockings making sure there are about eight inches of hose to work with. Fill with a ½ cup of dry coffee grounds. Tie a knot in the pantyhose close to the bottom. Tie a ribbon around it for looks and toss them in a drawer or a closet to absorb musty smells and keep everything odor-free. These look nice using old colored tights.

15. Fake Fossils

Make your own fossils using old coffee grounds. I can’t think of a better craft for the kiddos when you are stuck inside on a rainy day.

Use a wooden skewer or straw to poke a hole in the top of them, and suddenly you have excellent gifts for the grandparents this Christmas. Amanda, over at the aptly named Crafts by Amanda, has all the instructions for this fun craft.

16. Treasure Stones

Similar to the fake fossils, you can create fun treasure ‘stones’ using coffee grounds that hide a small toy or trinket inside them. These would be excellent party favors at a dinosaur themed birthday party! Let all of your little budding paleontologists crack open a stone.

17. ‘Dirt’ for Art Projects

Give your kiddo’s diorama for History class an upper edge with realistic dirt.

Dry coffee grounds sprinkled over a thin layer of white school glue make realistic looking dirt. This is a fun trick for all kinds of arts and crafts projects where you need to mimic earth.

18. Coffee Paint

After you’ve made your cup of coffee get inspired and create a caffeinated masterpiece with coffee paint.

Mix coffee grounds and boiling water in a ratio of 1:1 for dark paint and 1:2 for light paint. Wait until your coffee paints are cool to begin your masterpiece. Years from now, your family and friends will still admire your works from your ‘Dark Roast Period.’ Coffee paint works best on watercolor paper.

Beauty:

19. Coffee Ground Soap

Create an eye-opening and naturally exfoliating shower experience. You can find detailed instructions here. Just a heads up, glycerin bar soap works best for this project.

20. Get Rid of Puffy Eyes

Caffeine is in so many beauty ingredients these days, especially eye serums due to its antioxidant and diuretic properties.

Mix one teaspoon of coffee with one teaspoon of honey and gently dab under your eyes. Let it sit for 10 minutes and rinse gently with cool water.

21. Exfoliate Your Skin

Mix a tablespoon or two of coffee grounds in with your favorite body wash for an exhilarating and natural way to exfoliate your skin.

22. Cellulite Remover

This one is all over the internet and to be honest, I’m a little skeptical, but as I’ve mentioned above, caffeine is often an ingredient in expensive beauty creams. So rather than spend your money on those, create an all-natural cellulite wrap at home.

Mix a 1/4 cup of warm coffee grounds with one tablespoon of melted coconut oil and slather the areas you wish to target. Now wrap it all down with plastic wrap and wait for fifteen minutes. Unwrap (you may want to unwrap in the shower to avoid a mess) and rinse off, rub any remaining coconut oil into your skin.

23. Reboot Your Sense of Smell

Have you tried on too many perfumes or sniffed one too many fancy candles? Reset your sense of smell with a few deep breathes of some coffee grounds.

The smell of coffee has a palette cleansing effect on your nose, allowing you to differentiate scents again.

24. Give Dark Hair Serious Shine

Use coffee grounds to create a hair mask that will leave dark hair super shiny.

Mix a tablespoon of cooled coffee grounds in with two tablespoons of your favorite conditioner. Massage into your hair and use a wide-tooth comb to comb the hair mask through to the ends. Let it sit for 5 minutes and then rinse thoroughly. For extra shiny hair use cool water when you rinse. You look gorgeous, darling!

(This should only be used if you have brown or black hair.)

Around the House:

25. Ant Deterrent

Ugh, you know the feeling, you’re making yourself a sandwich, and you see it. An ant crawling along your counter. And you know it’s never just one ant.

Declare war against these pests by sprinkling coffee grounds around the perimeter of your home. If you can find them, sprinkle grounds on the ant hills too. They hate the smell of coffee!

26. Give Pets a Shiny Flea-Free Coat

After you’ve washed your pet with their regular shampoo, massage coffee grounds into their coat, then rinse thoroughly. They will appreciate the doggy day spa, and your four-legged friend’s fur will be sleek, shiny and flea-free.

In full disclosure, I can’t find anything that says why fleas hate coffee, just that they do. (Kind of like my ex-husband.) In the battle against fleas though it’s worth a try rather than using harsh chemicals on your beloved fur-baby.

27. Furniture Scratch Repair

For minor surface scratches on dark furniture give this a try.

Mix one tablespoon of coffee grounds with one tablespoon of olive oil. Dab a cotton ball or cotton swab in the mixture and rub into the scratch. Let this mixture sit for 10 minutes and then wipe off with a clean cotton ball. Repeat this process until the scratch is filled.

28. Make Fireplace Clean Up Easier

Nothing beats an evening spent in front of a crackling fire! But when it’s time to clean up the ashes, the job quickly becomes a real pain with fine ash billowing into the air and the room.

Sprinkle damp coffee grounds liberally over the ash before you sweep it up. The wet grounds prevent billowing and make your job much less messy.

Although you won’t want to do this if you have plans for using your wood ash.

The number one coffee ground hack you should NEVER use!

Use Coffee Grounds to Clean and Refresh Your Garbage Disposal

I see this tip show up in nearly every list of uses for coffee grounds.

DON’T DO IT!

The problem is the coffee grounds don’t always go down the drain, they build up over time and can clog both your garbage disposal and upset septic systems. This can mean big bucks in repair bills; septic system issues can easily cost a couple of thousand dollars to fix!

With this list, you’ll probably never throw out your coffee grounds again!

You may have noticed the absence of using coffee grounds in the garden. That’s because there is a lot of misinformation out there about the use of coffee grounds for gardening which we’ve addressed here.

We actually DON’T suggest using coffee grounds in the garden. It can do more harm than good. Read more about it here.

Even if you aren’t an avid coffee drinker, after reading this list, I can understand if you want to get your hands on some coffee grounds.

Check around town, most local coffee places (including ye ‘ol Starbucks) gladly give away their spent coffee grounds for free.

Hmm, I suddenly want a cup of coffee.