How to Reuse and Recycle Your Leftover Coffee Grounds | 21 Ways

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I bet you didn’t know it was a smart idea to reuse or recycle your coffee grounds. According to the EPA, when we dump our coffee grounds into landfills they create a greenhouse gas called methane.

Methane is known to be more harmful than carbon dioxide, which is another greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. If we can keep coffee grounds out of landfills by finding other uses for them we will be one step closer to stopping greenhouse gas emissions.

So what can you do to help keep this from happening? Use one or all of these 17 tips to reuse your coffee grounds.

1. Bug Repellant

You can safely repel annoying insects like mosquitos, ants, wasps, and bees with coffee grounds and the EPA says it’s safe. I didn’t know this but apparently, most bugs have a sense of smell and hate coffee.

Guess what? (*My favorite tip*) If you burn the coffee grounds the mosquitos will leave you alone. Your used grounds need to be dry, then you can put them in a bowl (heat-safe of course) or place them on aluminum foil (outside) and then light those babies on fire.

Sprinkling coffee grounds in places that you want to keep slugs and snails out of makes it where they can’t crawl over. It’s like making a barrier to keep them out.

2. Fertilizer

When you mix your used coffee grounds with soil, it is a natural fertilizer. If you sprinkle them across the soil before it rains or before you water, it will release nitrogen into the soil.

If you mix it in with your compost, the soil temperature will stay hotter for longer, which keeps the weeds down and will let your garden flourish.

Fresh coffee grounds are acidic, so plants that love acid such as azaleas, blueberries, roses, tomato plants, and camellias will help them thrive. Be careful adding grounds to new or young plants because the caffeine can hinder their growth.

Used coffee grounds are more neutral so you can fertilize all the other non-acid-loving plants. It also attracts worms which can be very beneficial to the soil.

3. Compost Add-In

Adding your used coffee grounds to compost helps to speed up the composting process. They contain nitrogen, magnesium, calcium, potassium and other minerals, too.

In compost language, the grounds are considered “green”. Things like the grounds and grass clippings are green. You need to balance it with “brown” materials such as leaves and newspaper. If your compost isn’t balanced, it won’t heat up. With no heat, the microbes don’t activate and you will have a smelly pile of slop.

Compost piles that are 40% coffee grounds were studied and produce the least amount of greenhouse gas. It also produces the best compost.

compost with coffee and filters

4. Deodorizer (for trash or fridge)

Coffee grounds can soak up smells, so adding them to the fridge can help get rid of weird food smells. You can put some near your trash for the very same reason. I wouldn’t put them in the trash, since the entire reason we are repurposing them is to keep them out of the landfill.

5. Cleaner

Spent coffee grounds can be used to help scour pots and pans. If you have a spot that is acting pesky, just sprinkle it with the grounds and scrub as you normally would. Be sure to rinse it really well after.

6. For DIY Kid Projects

You can make a natural dye from the leftover grounds. You can distress paper to give it an antiqued look.

You can also make a craft dough similar to playdoh (found on It will look like dirt so it would be perfect for school projects.

To make it:

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 cup of coffee grounds
  • 1 cup of salt
  • 1 cup of very hot water
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 2 tbsp of oil

Mix together the dry ingredients, then the wet and stir. Let it sit to thicken up then stir again.

7. Face Scrub or Body Scrub

The texture of the coffee grounds will exfoliate your skin and it is an anti-inflammatory so that can help reduce the appearance of cellulite. When you use it on your face, it can reduce the bags under your eyes.

I have used a few store-bought exfoliators with coffee grounds in them and I’ve thought to myself…I can make this for free.

If you want to make a scrub you can use:

  • 1/2 cup of coffee grounds
  • 1/2 cup of coconut oil (melted)
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar (you can use salt but I think its too rough)

Mix the ingredients together and gently rub over your skin.

*Using brown sugar instead of salt makes it where you can use it on your face, just be careful and keep it out of your eyes.

8. Hair Care

Your used coffee grounds can act as an exfoliant for your scalp while also stimulating the follicle. It will help rebalance the pH of your scalp too. When your scalp has a lower pH, the hair will lay flat and your hair will look shinier.

All you need to do is rub one or two teaspoons of old grounds on your scalp then rinse. You can put it with your conditioner as well. If you rinse with cool water, it will help seal the cuticle.

* Do you know all the health benefits of coffee? You can read about them in this post.

9. Worm Food

When you recycle coffee grounds into your soil, you are feeding the worms. Earthworms love coffee grounds because it helps them to grow and reproduce. When you have lots of worms in your soil it will provide better drainage, increase the nutrients and you will have a better soil structure.

Worms also release more phosphorus into the soil which can help plants have good root growth.

Some fishermen say that worms kept in coffee grounds will attract more fish, like bass and trout.

worms in dirt

10. Hand Scrub

The same scrub you made for your face and body can also be used as a hand scrub. If you keep it near the kitchen sink, not only will it help deodorize but you can use it to help get rid of the onion smell after chopping them during food prep.

11. Fireplace Dust Reducer

I hate dust, especially from our woodstove. We burn wood in the winter to help offset our heating costs, but man it produces a ton of dust. We will take our old coffee grounds and sprinkle them on the ashes before we clean them out to help keep the dust down when we scoop them out.

12. Furniture Refinisher

If you have scratches on your (darker) hardwood furniture or floors, you can hide them with coffee grounds. See this post from PopSugar where they tell you exactly what to do and have pictures!

13. Grease Cleaner

Mixing the grounds with some dish soap can help break up the grease on your pans.

14. Flea Repellant

Adding coffee grounds in when you are bathing your dog will help keep the fleas away. It will exfoliate their skin too while bathing them. You can also sprinkle some (dry grounds) on their coat to act as a repellant.

dog getting bath in tub

15. Candle Scent

You can make a DIY candle with your old coffee grounds. All you need is:

Put the wick in the bottom of the mug and add a small amount of wax to the bottom to hold it (you can use a popsicle stick to wrap the wick and hold it at the top). Heat up the candle wax on low. When it’s melted, pour a small amount into the mug and layer it with coffee grounds until the mug is full, and let it cool.

16. Meat Tenderizer

The natural acids and enzymes in coffee can be used as a meat tenderizer. All you have to do is add some to your meat rub a few hours before cooking or marinate it in the fridge for up to 24 hours before cooking.

17. Old Pill Disguise

You can take your old coffee grounds and use them to disguise medicines that need to be thrown away. The Food and Drug Administration says if you just throw old pills away, they could get into the wrong hands (aka kids or animals) so putting them in a zip lock bag with old used coffee grounds will help hide them.

18. Grow Some Mushrooms

According to Mother Earth News, you can grow oyster mushrooms in coffee grounds. See their post for more info.

19. Keep Cats Away

When my kids were little, we had a sandbox. We all know what cats do in a sandbox…so you can sprinkle your coffee grounds into the sandbox and the smell will deter the cats from using it as a litterbox. You could do this in the garden too.

20. Fresh Flowers

Used coffee grounds are neutral and contain nitrogen so adding some to your vase can help keep cut flowers fresh longer. You just need to be sure and keep the water changed so it doesn’t mold.

fresh flowers in a vase

21. Cooking with Coffee Grounds

You can use spent coffee grounds in so many recipes. If you love the way coffee tastes as much as I do, you might as well give it a try. Here are a few to start with:


I hope you learned some things and found some new uses for those leftover coffee grounds to help keep them out of the landfill. If you have an idea or have tried something we didn’t list, leave a comment below. I would love to hear and share so that we can all help each other reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Check out our genius coffee filter substitutes and find out if ground coffee goes bad!

pinterest graphic 21 ways to reuse coffee grounds

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