Amanda Norcross • April 22, 2021
Don't throw out your used coffee grounds just yet! There are some surprisingly useful ways to repurpose them, from using them for skin care to cleaning your kitchen utensils. Read on to see the best uses for old coffee grounds.
Coffee can be a great dry rub for meat. Combine with any number of spices, such as paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, and brown sugar.
Old coffee grounds are a great addition to a compost pile. "The high nitrogen concentrations help speed up the decomposition process and make for a great finished compost product," says Jen Panaro of Honestly Modern. "In many cases, you can even compost the coffee filter if you're using one."
Old coffee grounds are great feed for acid-loving flowers and plants like azaleas and camellia, so if you're a plant mom or plant dad and own them, it's better to make use of coffee grounds as fertilizer to grow bigger blooms," says Alex Perkins of All the Stuff, a product review site. Another acid-loving plant that thrives from coffee grounds? Blueberry plants!
Perkins also suggests using old coffee grounds for candles. "For coffee lovers who like the smell of coffee, upcycle old coffee grounds into a coffee candle. I recently made three and found this candle-making method helpful."
"Our scalps are often forgotten, but when I started taking care of mine, the difference in my hair was incredible," says Katie Woodburn-Simmonds of Home Coffee Expert. "People would stop me to compliment how thick and shiny my hair was and now I'm kicking myself that I didn't start sooner!"
Katie recommends either rubbing the grounds directly into your scalp or mixing with your favorite conditioner or coconut oil. "Take the time to really work the grounds into your scalp—a head massage is great self-care. Then rinse out and voila! Listen to the compliments come rolling in."
Just be cautious of the coffee grounds clogging your drain, cautions Woodburn-Simmonds.
Coffee is good at keeping you—and making you look—awake. "Form a paste using coffee grounds and a small amount of water, and apply under the eyes," suggests Toby Dash of Five Star Skincare. Caffeine is known to improve blood flow by widening the blood vessels, so it can help reduce under-eye puffiness."
If you're into soap-making, Dash also suggests using old coffee grounds as the main ingredient. "Coffee acts as a natural deodorizer, so it helps combat body odor," he explains. "Using coffee soap is also a convenient way to exfoliate dirt, grime, and dead skin."
Did you know you can use coffee grounds to cover up scratches and scuff marks on your furniture? "Just mix one tablespoon of your coffee grounds with one teaspoon of olive oil," says Christopher Anson, founder of Redcup Beverage Service. "Then apply the mixture with a cotton swab and wipe the area dry." Be sure to test a small area first so you don't ruin the aesthetic of your furniture.
Anson also recommends using old coffee grounds to revitalize your faded dark clothing. Simply add some grounds and brewed coffee to your washing machine.
"Coffee is also a natural air freshener," says Yew. "A natural property of coffee is that it absorbs residual smells around it." Put coffee grounds in your fridge, car, gym sneakers, you name it, to get rid of unwanted odors.
"Sprinkle a handful of coffee grounds on stained pots and pans, then start scrubbing away with a scour pad or steel wool. Coffee grounds have an abrasive nature, and this will help strip away stubborn spots," explains Yew. "Once done, rinse it out and leave it to dry as usual." Just avoid using this method on non-stick pans, or you risk scrubbing off the non-stick coating, too!
"Coffee is an excellent tool to clear olfactory fatigue and reset the sense of smell," says Tonya Lawson of Simply Caffeinated. "Used coffee grounds can be a great addition to a wine and cheese tasting. Have a small bowl of coffee grounds near your cheeseboard. Your guests can smell the coffee grounds between tastes and sips to reset their senses and fully taste the flavor notes of each wine or cheese."