Don’t Throw Away Your Coffee Grounds!

Coffee grounds, fine, wet.

Coffee grounds, fine, wet. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before you pour your coffee grounds down the disposal, read this blog and find out what you can do instead with this versatile, nutrient-rich leftover.

  1. Neutralize odors in your refrigerator or freezer with dried grounds.
  2. Repel insects by mounding the grounds into a protective ring around plants that will ward off ants, snails and slugs.
  3. When you clean your fireplace, sprinkle damp grounds on the ashes to cut down on airborne dust.
  4. Scrub hands with grounds to act as an exfoliant and eliminate food smells like fish and garlic.  Grounds are also a good cellulite reducer (see recipe below).
  5. A few teaspoons placed on a thin rag can be used to clean grease and grime from dishware.
  6. Steep grounds in hot water to make a natural dye for Easter eggs or fabric.
  7. For a non-toxic cockroach trap, fill a can with an inch or so of wet grounds and line the neck with extra-sticky double-sided tape.  The scent draws the roaches into the trap.
  8. Add some grounds to your potting soil to give plants and seedlings a nitrogen boost.  They may repel root maggots too!
  9. Coffee grounds dabbed on scratches in dark wood furniture will minimize them.  Use a cotton swab to apply and add a bit of liquid; try a test area first.
  10.  Coffee grounds are a nutritious addition to your compost pile!

Companies are doing interesting things with recycled coffee grounds.  Moving Comfort, an athletic gear company, uses recycled coffee grounds in a fabric called S. Cafe to absorb odors. My husband’s company, Boston Tree Preservation, has an arrangement with Boston Bean Coffee Company to recycle their spent coffee pods. The pods are fed to the worms in the worm farm;  the worm castings are then used to make a rich, nutritious compost tea which is sprayed on customers’ trees as an organic fertilizer, natural fungicide and pest deterrent.

Recipe for Coffee Ground Exfoliant


 Since coffee grounds are course, they are a natural exfoliant.  They also contain caffeic acid, which has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects on the skin and stimulates collagen production.

Mix 1 cup warm coffee grounds with 1/2-cup sugar, then add 2 tbsp. olive oil. Rub the mixture all over your skin, especially rough areas such as elbows and feet. If you do this in the shower, put a mesh sink strainer in the drain. Otherwise, the coffee grounds could clog the drain.  You can also just use the coffee grounds to exfoliate.

Information compiled from March 2012 and

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22 responses to this post.

  1. Wow! I only knew about one of these. I’ll never toss my husbands coffee grounds again! Sharing…


    • Thanks for commenting! Yes, don’t throw them away. I’m a tea drinker but it almost makes me want to go back to coffee!


      • I’m a tea drinker as well. My British father got us started early drinking tea. Mom was a coffee drinker, but I never acquired a taste, though I can smell it all day long. When I worked in a costume shop, we would rinse white shirts in tea to knock down some of the brightness on stage.

      • Interesting idea!

  2. Thanks for this very good article Betsy. I have been using my coffee grounds for my plants for long time but will definitely try your exfoliant recipe at the weekend.


  3. I never knew coffee was so versatile! I might try the insect repellent approach. I have a little phobia for coffee after I overdosed on it during my A-levels. By the way, I saw your link in the ‘How to get…’ thread ;)


  4. I have to agree with jollof, I never realized all the uses for coffee. As a big coffee drinker, it’s great to find uses for the old grounds! Thanks for the tips!


  5. Great information thank you. I write extensivley about using coffee grounds for gardening purposes and love to see this kind of stuff getting out to readers.


  6. Posted by CathyHall on April 21, 2012 at 7:21 am

    Couldn’t find anything about coffee grounds on sportswear link, pls point me in right direction.


    • Hi Cathy,

      I have contacted moving comfort and will let you know once I hear back from them. Thanks for commenting on my blog!



    • Hi Cathy –

      I just spoke with a sales rep from Moving Comfort. The recycled coffee grounds are in a fabric called S. Cafe, which is used in the interior cups of several of their bra styles – Juno, Luna, Viken, Zero, Alexis. If you look under the fabric care section you will see the fabric listed. The interior cups are usually a blend of the S. Cafe and polyester. For some reason, they don’t mention it in their marketing!

      Let me know what you think!



  7. Thanks. Fascinating.


    • Thanks for commenting John! Everything real has more value than meets the eye and many uses that should keep it out of the landfill. Happy Earth Day!



  8. […] Reuse your coffee ground as exfoliant […]


  9. […] Don’t Throw Away Your Coffee Grounds! ( […]


  10. […] Don’t Throw Away Your Coffee Grounds! ( […]


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