20 Surprising Ways to Recycle Coffee Grounds

coffee grounds

What do you do with the coffee grounds when you make coffee?

If you are like most, you probably pause as you toss them into the trash can, wishing you could do something to use them in some way.

“Climate change” and “recycling” are hot buzzwords right now. We all want to do our part to preserve our planet for the next generations. And recycling coffee grounds might be as good a starting point as any.

Let’s take a look at 15 creative ways to recycle this product.

How to Recycle Coffee Grounds Every Day

You will be surprised at how you can save these from going into the trash!

1 – Mix them with your compost

Do you love to garden? Then you might have a compost pile. And if you do not, perhaps today we will give you the motivation to start one.

Composting is a means of creating rich, organic fertilizer by using natural plant waste. Over a few months, you create a nutrient-dense for your soil, according to Mother Earth News, an organic gardening authority site.

Items to compost include the following:

  • Coffee grounds (of course)
  • Egg shells (rinsed and ground up)
  • Sticks
  • Grass clippings
  • Shredded newspaper
  • Shredded leaves
  • Fruit and vegetable scraps from the kitchen

Avoid composting these things:

  • Meat scraps
  • Fish bones
  • Cooking oils and grease
  • Milk or dairy waste

Once you create a large compost volume, you will not need to purchase fertilizer from the garden center again!

2 – May be a natural insect repellent

Specific compounds present in caffeine serve as a natural insect repellent, according to scientific research.

Some of the species you might be able to control by scattering coffee grounds in the area include these:

  • Slugs
  • Snails
  • Beetles
  • Mosquitoes
  • Fruit flies

3 – Coffee grounds make an excellent fertilizer

Don’t want to bother making a compost pile? That’s fine. Coffee grounds can still nourish your soil. Sprinkle them around the plants.

One scientific study confirms that coffee grounds contain several key bioactive micronutrients that benefit your soil:

  • Calcium
  • Nitrogen
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Chromium
  • Iron
  • Phosphorous

Some gardeners also believe that adding this also helps to remove toxic heavy metals from your soil.

4 – Treat your scalp to a deep exfoliation

The skin is the body’s largest organ. However, we often forget to treat our scalp to the same exfoliation as we do the rest of our body.

Luckily, you have a wonderful natural product to achieve this –coffee grounds.

Your hair feels wonderfully clean after you exfoliate the scalp! Here’s how to do it:

  1. Wet your hair with warm water.
  2. Use one to two tablespoons of coffee grounds and massage for 30 seconds in a circular motion.
  3. Rinse.
  4. Shampoo, as per usual.

One note for people with blonde or light hair. As you will see in the next tip, coffee grounds are a natural dye–if your hair is super porous, you might want to skip this tip!

5 – Make an Earth-friendly dye for your craft projects

Do you love papercrafting?

If you have ever made a tea-stain to give your projects an aged look, then you can achieve that same effect by coffee-staining your craft. The brown color that results is richer and deeper than tea staining.

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6 – Make a coffee grounds scrub for your skin

Coffee grounds contain antioxidants. These compounds help you fight free radicals, which are environmental pollutants.

Additionally, caffeine is a natural stimulant that can improve the skin’s blood flow, giving you a natural glow.

To make a coffee facial scrub, you need the following things:

  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon of coffee grounds

That’s it! Mix your two ingredients into a paste. Scrub, rinse, and follow up with your preferred serum and moisturizer for lovely, fresh-feeling skin.

7 – Encourage faster hair growth

We mentioned earlier how you could exfoliate the scalp. But it turns out that this process may also encourage faster hair growth.

One study shows us how the combination of increasing the blood flow during that deep exfoliation and stimulating the surface of the skin with caffeine is the key, here

Use the same method of exfoliation that we suggested in point #4 to get those long and lush locks you desire.

8 – Rid your home of foul odors

Embarrassing bad odors happen even in the cleanest houses!

Smoky cooking oils. Fried fish. A wet dog. Baby diapers. The kitty litterbox. All these things contribute to poor air quality and sour smells.

However, the nitrogen present in coffee grounds will absorb and trap those terrible smells.

Place a small bowl of coffee grounds out in the “smelly zone” for several hours to tackle the issue.

You can also make a small sachet by placing the grounds in a round coffee filter, then forming a bundle. Tie it off with a twisty-tie. These are great to keep in your vehicle!

Other places you can use coffee grounds to help eliminate bad smells:

  • Inside your boat cabin (they always have a musty odor)
  • Recreational vehicles
  • The diaper pail
  • Inside trash cans
  • Your car (stash under the front seat)
  • Gym locker
  • Closet

9 – Eliminate cooking odors from your hands

When you slice and dice up garlic, onions, or even your favorite funky cheese, the aroma seems to stick to your skin forever! You keep lemon-fresh dish soap on hand, but it does not quite cut through the smell.

Grab a teaspoon of used coffee grounds, pump that lemon soap into your palm, and give your hands a nice scrub.

They will smell great. Plus, your skin will feel soft and smooth.

10 – Clean your grill

Be honest. Your grill probably has a build-up of food bits, meat drippings, and other nastiness.

You know you need to spruce it up, but you get frustrated. You want clean grates, but abrasives will ruin them!

Coffee grounds are the ideal solution to this problem. They are gentle enough to clean without scratching the grates but have enough grit to them to help release the burned-on foods.

11 – Hide scratches on your wood furniture

Fix unsightly scratches on wood furniture by dying the exposed wood (i.e., the scratch) with coffee grounds.

The exposed, raw wood will absorb the color from the grounds. It is a little bit messy, but it’s an effective fix.

Here is what you do:

Use an ear swab to apply the coffee grounds to the scratched surface–pack it in there! After about five minutes, wipe it away and check the color. If you need to enrich the shade, reapply. Again, check the color saturation every five minutes.

This fix is relatively short-lasting. However, you can reapply monthly. Or, it at least gives you time to purchase a furniture stain pen from your local craft retailer!

12 – Grow potatoes

So many people took up gardening as a hobby during the pandemic and lockdowns.

One popular gardening project for beginners is growing potatoes in a bag. This idea is also lots of fun for the kiddos.

Many people are purchasing potato growing bag kits. Follow the directions on your kit. Be sure to feed in coffee grounds to your growing bag regularly to nourish your potatoes and yield a larger harvest.

13 – Reduce dark circles under your eyes

Many people battle dark circles under the eyes.

We mentioned earlier how coffee contains antioxidants that help nourish the skin and caffeine that boosts blood flow.

These benefits also appear effective in minimizing the appearance of those annoying under-eye circles.

How to make a dark circles treatment from coffee grounds:

  • 1 tsp. of coffee grounds
  • 2 tsp. of coconut oil

Mix these two ingredients. Carefully pat half of the mixture under each eye, creating a mask. Be careful not to get any in your eyes!

Lie down and relax for about ten minutes. Carefully tissue off your coffee grounds mask, rinse, and apply your favorite under eye cream.

Remember.

The skin under your eyes is the thinnest on your entire body. Do not scrub or apply too much pressure–it could cause a bruise, worsening the problem.

14 – A fisherman’s tale

Worms love coffee grounds!

When you head off to your next fishing excursion, take along a full cup of them! Add them to your bait worms, and they will live longer.

The Farmer’s Almanac claims that certain species, bass and trout, find the smell of coffee irresistible! Maybe you’ll even catch more fish!

15 – Houseplants need love, too!

We have discussed several outdoor gardening applications for spent java. But don’t forget about your houseplants!

Sprinkle some of this natural fertilizer around the base of your indoor plants, as well. They will flourish!

16 – Make a coffee rub for your roast

Thrifty cooks know that an inexpensive cut of meat can be delicious. However, they can be somewhat tough in texture.

When you apply a coffee-based rub to those inexpensive roasts, you will tenderize it naturally.

Coffee has natural acids–the “bitter” of the taste. When you use it, straight from the filter, these acids will help break down those roasts’ tougher tissues.

Rub the meat several hours before roasting it, but overnight is even better! You can either brush the java off the roast before cooking if you wish. You can also leave it on, add a tablespoon of brown sugar, and let it form a delicious golden crust.

Roasting works best for this technique. But you can also try your InstaPot or slow cooker as well.

17 – Cat repellant for the garden

Do neighborhood stray kitties soil your garden?

Amend the soil with coffee grounds as a cruelty-free solution to this issue. Cats seem to dislike the fragrance and will find somewhere else to do their business.

18 – Coffee grounds make a wonderful (but gentle) lip scrub

Do your lips get dry, flaky, and cracked? Guess what works… a gentle coffee scrub!

Make a paste (the same as dark circle treatment, #13), and gently buff away the dry skin. Follow the exfoliation with your favorite lip hydration product.

19 – Free your pans of stuck-on foods

Even if you have non-stick cookware, it’s not uncommon to find yourself needing to release bits of stuck on foods from your pans and bakeware.

Coffee grounds are excellent for this purpose! They provide gentle abrasion that will help you get those sticky bits free without damaging your cookware.

20 – Deodorize your electric pressure cooker

If you use an electric pressure cooker, you probably notice a funky aroma when you pull it out to cook with it!

Even if you cleaned every bit of surface, it lingers like a perpetual mutant funk.

That presents a problem when you want to bake a cake or cook rice, as the odors from dinners past seem to permeate the food.

Remove that smell by tossing a cup of used coffee grounds, two or three cups of water, and running the cooker on a short “vegetable” cycle. Release the steam when the “done” signal beeps.

You will have a fresher smelling pressure cooker within just a few minutes.

The Bottom Line: You Can Recycle Coffee Grounds and Decrease Your Environmental Impact

Using these recycling methods will reduce your environmental impact, especially when you use them to amend your soil or feed your plants.

However, by using this natural product to replace chemical beauty products and cleansers, you also lower your consumption of those pre-mixed products, their packaging, and the costs of getting them to your stores.

So even if you end up with the coffee grounds in the trash after their second, recycled use, you have taken personal responsibility for the environment.

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