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How to Recycle and Reuse Coffee Grounds

How to Recycle and Reuse Coffee Grounds

If you’re like me, your day can’t properly start until you’ve had your morning coffee. If so, you are not alone. The average American consumes 3 cups of coffee per day. That’s a lot of coffee!  And that’s a lot of leftover coffee grounds. 

Coffee Grounds

Surprisingly, used coffee grounds can serve many purposes other than being destined for the garbage can. They can be reused in many different household applications and are an economical tool to have at your disposal. Not only can they prove helpful in other purposes than just drinking coffee, finding creative ways to recycle used coffee grounds can stop them from accumulating in landfills and producing a greenhouse gas called methane, which is known to be more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide. 

Here are some inventive ways to use up those old coffee grounds.

Add It To Your Soil for Healthier Plants

How to Recycle and Reuse Coffee GroundsWhile there are many different uses for coffee grounds, the biggest benefits seem to come from using them in the garden. Starbucks recycles its used coffee grounds by allowing gardeners, or anyone interested, to use them at home.

Coffee grounds, when mixed with other organic matter, can be spread as mulch around plants. It’s important not to put thick layers of just coffee grounds around plants, as this could prohibit water from reaching the roots of the plants. When it’s mixed with other beneficial matter such as compost, it still allows water to penetrate the soil.

Hydrangeas and Coffee Grounds

Used coffee grounds act as a fertilizer when mixed with soil around plants. Or you can toss them in compost piles where they act as “green” matter due to their nitrogen-rich properties. While some claim that coffee grounds can help the pH of plants like hydrangeas, this is mainly true for fresh coffee grounds. Coffee grounds lose much of their acidity once brewed for coffee and become more neutral. However, it could be worth a shot to at least try with flowers and plants that notoriously love nitrogen such as roses, camellias, azaleas, rhododendrons, and hydrangeas.

What Happens When You Use Coffee Grounds in the Garden?

Attract Earthworms to Your Garden

Coffee grounds placed in the soil eventually get broken down by bacteria and fungi, which turns into a food source for earthworms. The earthworms eat these coffee grounds then excrete their waste deep in the soil which in turn enriches the soil.


Some gardeners use coffee grounds in their compost bins specifically in the hopes of drawing more earthworms. Fishermen have been known to mix recycled coffee grounds in with the soil in the worm bait to help keep it fresh longer.

Boost Fruit and Veggie Growth

Some fruits and vegetables benefit from coffee grounds as well. These include blueberries, radishes, and carrots which thrive in nitrogen-rich soil.  Just mix the used grounds in the topsoil surrounding these plants and let them work their magic!


Used grounds are also helpful in keeping some houseplants fertilized and happy. Just research beforehand to see if your houseplant is one that likes the high acidity of coffee. Some indoor plants that do benefit from coffee grounds include peace lilies, cyclamen, jade, Christmas cactus, philodendron, golden pothos, miniature roses, and African violets.

Keep the Mosquitos Away

You probably already knew that mosquitos have a strong sense of smell. After all, they can smell you from miles away! There are also well-known scents that repel mosquitoes such as lemongrass, citronella, and lavender. People grow these plants around outdoor areas to help keep mosquitoes at bay. But did you also know that coffee grounds can help repel them? 


The trick is to burn the used grounds first. To do this, you dry them out and place them on a surface outside that can contain the fire such as an old bowl or flat surface covered with aluminum foil. You want to burn the grounds slowly to get the maximum repellant benefits. You can find some detailed instructions here on the best way to do this.

Use as an Odor Neutralizer

Coffee grounds are naturally aromatic so it’s no wonder they work so well as a deodorizer. The most important thing to do is let them dry fully then stick them anywhere odors tend to linger. You can use them in the fridge, in garbage pails, closets… you get the idea. Old pantyhose work great as a place to store the grounds. Just fill them with coffee grounds, tie them up, and hang anywhere unpleasant odors occur.

Just one word of warning… don’t use this near litter boxes as cats don’t like the smell. This brings us to our next point…

Use as a Pest Deterrent

While you don’t want to deter cats from indoor litter boxes, you probably want to keep them from using your outdoor plant beds as a litter box. Scatter some used grounds around plant beds to help keep stray cats away. This may also aid in keeping other unwanted pests away such as ants, snails, and slugs. If you notice an abundance of ants in or around your home, locate the ants’ home base and liberally disperse coffee grounds around that area. 

Other pests that despise coffee grounds are fleas. If your home has been invaded by this cringe-worthy pest, you can mix used coffee grounds and water and bathe your pet in it.

DIY Beauty Supplies

The gritty texture of coffee makes a wonderful exfoliant and the natural caffeine can have skin-boosting properties as well, especially for cellulite. Add the coffee to sugar and oil to create your own sugar scrub. 

coffee scrub

Or you can make your own  hand soap by mixing coffee grounds with glycerin soap. Coffee is known to remove smells from hands and is useful after handling pungent food ingredients such as garlic and onion. If you don’t have time to make your own soap, you can just keep a container filled with dried coffee grounds near the kitchen sink. Liberally rub hands with grounds then wash with water. Not only will your hands smell better, but they’ll also get exfoliated in the process!

Start Saving those Coffee Grounds

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