For better or worse, the world runs on coffee. The humble coffee bean once existed solely in eastern Africa, but it’s delicious taste and addicting caffeine content caused it to quickly spread throughout the world in the modern age. Today, coffee is one of the most heavily traded commodities in the world; second only to petroleum. Save for the people that drink green tea or other coffee alternatives, a good portion of the planet wakes up with a cup (or two!) of coffee every morning.
What is it about coffee that is so addicting? Europe alone drinks 725 million cups a day, and the rest of the world isn’t far behind. People everywhere are addicted to the feel-good feeling of the rush of caffeine through their blood stream, but our coffee consuming culture comes at a cost. Besides creating bad coffee breath for almost everyone, our global coffee habit is creating a ton of waste in the form of used coffee grounds.
Coffee Grounds: The Beneficial Substance You’ve Been Wasting
It doesn’t have to be that way. With a little creativity, your coffee can be a benefit to you twice over. Rather than tossing your grounds in the trash as soon as you’re done with them, there is plenty you can do to give them a second life.
If you’re ready to enjoy your caffeine fix without the guilt of contributing to waste problems everywhere, the time has come to start exploring some ways to reuse them. It turns out that coffee grounds have a bevy of benefits for your home, garden and even skin, so long as you know how to use them.
Top Uses For Used Coffee Grounds
Below are some top tips for getting more out of your coffee than a caffeine headache. Once you learn all the ways you can put your spent grounds to a second use, you’ll be shocked that you’ve been throwing such a useful substance straight in the dumpster for so many years.
Not a coffee drinker? No problem at all. Just wander over to your nearest coffee shop with a clean container and request some used grounds to take home. Trust me; they’ll be more than happy to help you out.
Grounds in the Garden
Few people are aware what great garden additive coffee grounds can be. Below are some top tips for getting the most out of your growing spaces through the use of spent coffee grounds.
1. Pest Repellent
Is your garden getting attacked by hordes of destructive pests like ants, slugs and snails? You can create a potent smelling barrier to keep them away by mixing your old grounds up with dried orange peel and rosemary oil. Form this mixture into mounds and use it to create a protective barrier around your vulnerable plants. If all goes well, your pest problem will soon be history.
2. Grow Blue Hydrangeas
Though they naturally grow pink, an infusion of acid at the base of a hydrangea plant will turn its blooms to a vibrant hue of baby blue. You can easily alter the pH level of your hydrangea’s soil by adding a few scoops of coffee grounds directly to the base of the plant.
3. Fertilize Your Garden
Besides changing the colors of your flowers, used coffee grounds also work great as an all-around fertilizer for your plants. Simply mix old coffee grounds with brown leaves, straw and dead grass clippings (in order to absorb some of the natural acidity) and let them set together for several months until decomposition occurs. Used coffee grounds add an infusion of nitrogen and potassium to your soil, as well as a subtle boost of magnesium to keep them healthy all over.
4. Attract Worms
Every gardener worth her snap peas knows that soil isn’t much without a robust population of worms just under the soil. Because worms are attracted to coffee grounds, you can encourage your local worm populations to move in and reproduce if you sprinkle your used grounds throughout the garden beds.
5. Keep Cats Out
Are the neighbor’s cats treating your flowers like their own personal litter box? Keep them away by sprinkling some coffee grounds mixed with orange peel where you don’t want them to walk, and those obnoxious kitties are sure to stay far away.
Around The House
Think used coffee grounds are gross or dirty? You’ve got it all wrong. In fact, this entirely natural waste product makes an excellent all-purpose cleaner and abrasive that will help you tackle your most pressing household needs without shelling out big bucks for overly expensive, chemical-filled cleaning products.
6. Absorb Food Odors
A smelly fridge can mess with anyone’s appetite, but there’s no reason for you to live with a kitchen that grosses you out. Used coffee grounds can be used like baking soda for absorbing funky food odors right in the fridge. All you need to do is fill a small container with your old grounds and place them in the back corner of the fridge. Swap them out every few weeks for a new batch and the smelly odors will become forgotten history. Best of all, these old grounds can be used a third time if you toss them onto your compost pile once they are done in your kitchen.
7. Natural Abrasive
Stuck on food scraps making you want to cry? You can reduce the amount of elbow grease it takes to keep your kitchen clean by using coffee grounds as a natural abrasive for washing dishes. All you need to do is add a few teaspoons of grounds to a cleaning rag and scour away to make grimy grease disappear with ease.
8. Keep Fireplace Ashes Contained
Does cleaning out your fireplace leave you choking on clouds of ash? You can keep them contained by sprinkling damp coffee grounds directly on the ashes to prevent them from going airborne when you remove them from the house.
9. Make a Cockroach Trap
No one likes having unwelcome pests in their home, and cockroaches are some of the worst. Keep them at bay by filling a clean jar with two inches of moistened coffee grounds and line the inside rim of the container with Vaseline or double-sided tape. Greedy roaches will be attracted to the scent and leap into the jar, quickly finding they’re unable to get out.
10. Beautiful Golden Dye
Coffee spills can be intentional too! If you secretly love the golden hue that spilled coffee adds to your white shirt, you can utilize the staining properties of coffee by using old grounds as a dye for everything from feathers, cloth, Easter eggs and pretty parchment paper. You can follow the instructions found here for top tips to make your paper memorable.
11. Hide Scratches
If the scratches in your wooden table are bumming you out, there’s an easy way to solve your problem without turning to expensive wood dyes. Simply dip a cotton swab into “twice made coffee” made from old grounds and dab the mixture into the scratches in your dark wood furniture to make them vanish in a second.
12. Homemade Candles
For those that can’t wake up without the scent of coffee in the morning, there’s another way to get your fix that won’t leave you feeling jittery. It’s easier than you expect to turn your old grounds into homemade candles. All you need to do is gather a small paper coffee cup, a cup of wax candle remnants, a wick and some used coffee grounds. Full instructions can be found here.
13. Unclog Your Drain
Clogged up sinks are never fun, but there’s an easy way to fix them without resorting to Draino. Simply boil some water with used coffee grounds and add a few squirts of dish soap to make a potent grease fighting mix that can clean out drains without effort.
14. Tenderize Your Meat
Sick of your cheap meat cuts tasting tough? An easy way to tenderize them is to use coffee grounds as a spice rub to add a smoky flavor to your favorite meal. For more information, the recipe can be found here.
15. Grow Mushrooms
Cultivating mushrooms out of coffee grounds might sound too good to be true, but it’s actually shockingly simple with the right ingredients. Start stockpiling your grounds and follow the instructions here. Want to try your hand at different kinds of mushrooms? Follow some top tips here!
16. Make Play Doh Dirt
If you’re looking for some nontoxic ways to entertain young ones, it couldn’t be easier to make play doh from used coffee grounds. The mix might not taste great but at least there’s no reason to worry if your toddlers take a taste. Instructions can be found here.
For Your Body
Don’t let the dirty look of coffee grounds fool you. This all natural substance has plenty of skin and beauty benefits, so long as you know how to use them.
17. Exfoliate Skin
Keeps your skin looking shiny and beautiful by making an exfoliating body scrub from your old grounds. All you need to do is add your spent grounds to warm water and blend together with an all-natural oil like coconut oil. Use this mix to scrub your skin and slough off dead skin cells with ease.
18. Get Rid of Garlic Smells
Garlic smelling hands are no fun after you’re done cooking, but you can dispel the smell by washing your hands with a handful of grounds and soapy water. The grounds will absorb the smell in seconds, leaving you feeling fresh.
19. Rejuvenating Facial
One of the least appreciated benefits of coffee is that it can make a great facial. Just blend two tablespoons of grounds with organic cocoa powder and add three tablespoons of whole milk and a heaping tablespoon of honey to make a rejuvenating, all natural facial that will keep you looking young.
20. Coffee-Based Hair Treatment
Daily life can easily weigh hair down with residue, but you can keep your strands looking soft and clean by removing build up with a coffee ground treatment. All you need to do is take a handful of coarse grounds and massage them into your scalp before shampooing. Their coarse texture is enough to break up residue, and the chunks easily rinse out with your conditioner.
Throwing away your old coffee grounds is a waste for you and the planet. It’s easy to give this everyday item a second life by incorporating them into your garden, home and general wellness plan. Once you start finding uses for all your old coffee grounds, you’re sure to start asking everyone around you to start saving theirs so you can continue your earth-friendly experiments.