Americans are obsessed with coffee. According to research last year by the National Coffee Association, nearly 83 percent of American adults drink coffee, up from 78 percent the previous year. The average coffee drinker drinks two cups a day, and most report drinking those cups within an hour after rising in the morning.
Whether you reach for the coffee maker soon after you get up or not, chances are good that someone in your home does, and that means you have coffee grounds. The good news is that, like so many natural items, you can re-purpose all those grounds in some pretty useful ways. So if you’ve been tossing your coffee grounds in the trash, it’s time to take a look at our list of ways you can easily use them around the home and garden.
Lawn and Garden
1. Compost. If you have a compost pile, coffee grounds are an easy way to add nitrogen to it. You can toss your grounds and filter right into the pile. The grounds absorb and hold moisture and plan an important role in a compost pile.
2. Fertilizer. Coffee grounds can be a real helper for your garden. First of all, the grounds attract earthworms, which help aerate the soil. In addition, coffee grounds increase the soil’s acidity level, which makes them a great addition to your flower garden. Roses, hydrangeas, zinnias, rhododendrons, azaleas, pachysandra, iris and other acid-loving plants need acid in the soil to stay healthy and colorful. Simply stir the grounds into the soil or combine them with water in a watering can to pour on the base of the plants.
3. Keep Away Cats. I love cats, but I hate it when my cats or my neighbors’ cats use my garden as their litter box. Spread coffee grounds around the base of your garden to safely deter them from digging. If you toss in some orange peels, it is an added bonus. They hate the smell.
4. Repel Pests. Similarly, snails and slugs dislike coffee grounds, so you if you mound your grounds around your garden, it will ward them off. Ants hate coffee grounds, too! Sprinkle dried coffee grounds on anthills and around any areas ants may be entering your home. Note: Don’t try this with decaffeinated coffee. A Harvard study determined that caffeine disrupts the behavior and reproduction cycles of insects. The same study found that mixing caffeine with certain pesticides greatly increased the pesticide’s potency.
5. Deodorizer. Coffee grounds absorb odors. You can place your used grounds (filter and all, if you like) in a small dish or tub to help neutralize strong odors in your fridge. The grounds will also help with the odor from cigarette smoking. Just place a small bowl of grounds near an ashtray. Another idea is to place used grounds at the bottom of your kitchen trash bag to mask unpleasant odors.
6. Fireplace Cleaner. By sprinkling coffee grounds in the fireplace before cleaning, you will cut down on the amount of airborne dust. The grounds also will help deodorize the area. You can also use grounds in your wood stove to help with soot odor.
7. Flower Vase. Place some coffee grounds in the bottom of a glass jar, add some water, and you will have a great-smelling flower vase. Added bonus: It will look like your flower stems are planted in dirt.
8. Furniture Fixer. Don’t use harsh chemicals on your furniture. Instead, repair scratches, rings and dents with a mixture of coffee grounds, warm water and white vinegar. Apply with a cotton swab or cotton ball on a small test area first.
9. Sepia dye. You can make lovely brown dye for fabric, paper or Easter eggs by soaking coffee grounds in water. Give paper an antique look for certain projects by dipping sheets in the mixture for a few minutes. Let them air dry and then brush off any grounds.
10. Meat marinade. If you love the taste of coffee, you can use your grounds in a marinade for poultry, fish or pork. It gives meat a unique smoky flavor.
11. Kitchen scrubber. The abrasiveness of the grounds makes them work as a cleanser for your greasy, grimy kitchenware. Just sprinkle some grounds on the troublesome pot, pan or tool, scour with a sponge or rag and rinse.
12. Hair conditioner. By mixing coffee grounds with your favorite hair conditioner, you will add shine to your hair. This works especially well for brunettes, as the grounds can add a bit of brown highlights. If you’d like to make better use of the grounds’ coloring effect, steep your used grounds in hot water. Apply the warm solution to your hair and rinse.
13. Exfoliator. Blend grounds with mineral oil or Vitamin E oil and apply it to your skin for an inexpensive yet effective skin treatment. To make a face mask, mix one-fourth cup of coffee grounds with one egg white. Spread the mixture over your face, avoiding the eye area. Once the mask is dry and flakey, rinse your face well with warm water.
14. Hand cleanser. Rub coffee grounds between your hands both to remove dead skin and to help eliminate food odors from garlic, onions or fish.
Now that you have some great ideas for using coffee grounds, here are a few tips:
- Damp grounds can get moldy. If you will be storing them for later use, spread them out in a thin layer on paper towels or on a cookie sheet to air dry first. Then you can store the dry grounds in a lidded container for months.
- When you mulch with coffee grounds, don’t pile on too much or it will get moldy. Start with a half-inch or less layer on top of your regular organic mulch. When you notice that it is breaking down as worms and soil microbes go to work, you can add more.
- Many coffee shops will give away their used grounds. Some keep them in a separate “green can” away from other trash. Call or stop by a coffee shop or stand in your area to find out if you can pick some up.
- Other good sources for used grounds are offices and restaurants. It never hurts to ask!
Do you know of other alternative uses for coffee? Share your tips in the section below: