14 Surprising Uses for Coffee Grounds
As it turns out, that daily cup of coffee is good for more than just a morning pick-me-up. We’ve rounded up some fun and surprising uses for coffee grounds—you know, in case you needed another reason (or 14) to worship the stuff.
1. Exfoliating body scrub
Turn your used coffee grounds into a luxurious body scrub that will leave your skin silky smooth and glowing. Just combine a half cup of used grounds with a quarter cup of olive or coconut oil and a pinch of citrus zest. It will slough off dead skin cells, tighten blood vessels and boost blood flow. Thank you, caffeine.
Toss what’s left from your daily brew directly into your compost pile for a boost of nitrogen that’s great for your garden and the environment, too. Here’s how to compost at home (no matter your living situation).
3. Pest control
You might love the aroma of freshly-brewed coffee, but pests do not. Sprinkle coffee grounds whenever you need to scare away ants, snails or slugs: These critters are offended by the strong smell, so this is an easy, waste-free way to keep them off your property (and yet another reason that coffee grounds are basically your garden’s best friend).
4. Hair rinse
So your locks are looking a bit drab these days. The solution? Empty the contents of that used coffee filter...onto your head. Yep, you can simply massage used coffee grounds into your hair and rinse thoroughly for extra shine—no products required. Plus, the caffeine in coffee grounds is also thought to stimulate hair growth and prevent loss, so if you work ‘em into the scalp you might end up with a fuller head of hair to boot. That said, be careful if you have light hair, as the coffee can leave behind a little color.
5. Meat rub
Due to their acidity, coffee grounds act as both a natural flavor enhancer and tenderizer for meat. That’s right—grounds can be used in dry rubs and marinades alike for a robust flavor boost and a more succulent finished dish. Best of all, that means you can pour that last bit of red wine into your glass where it belongs. Here, an easy-peasy recipe to get you started.
Instead of baking soda, try putting a bowl of coffee grounds in the fridge to eliminate icky food smells and even the closet to banish stubborn musty odors. You can also keep a dish of them by the kitchen sink to rub on your hands after chopping onions, garlic or fish—they’ll neutralize the lingering scent quicker than you can say instant coffee.
7. Kitchen scrubber
Not only will coffee grounds make your kitchen smell nicer, but they can also be used to keep it sparkling clean as well. Pour coffee grounds into the sink and make the most of their abrasive action to eliminate any film from soap scum and food stuff; then send ‘em down the garbage disposal to make that smell fresher, too.
8. Furniture repair aid
Buff away unsightly scratches and scuffs from dark wood furniture by applying used coffee grounds to the problem areas with a Q-tip. Once the grounds have had a chance to sit (just a couple of minutes should do the trick, say the experts at Needlepointers), gently scrub them away with a rag and those superficial imperfections will be a thing of the past.
9. Scour pots and pans
The coarse texture of coffee grounds is ideal for scraping dishes clean and remove caked-on food bits from your favorite pots and pans. To put those leftovers to good use, simply sprinkle them directly onto your cookware and scrub with a soft sponge or brush. Make sure to rinse thoroughly afterward (unless you like the taste of coffee-flavored scrambled eggs, that is).
10. Under-eye treatment
If you haven’t been getting enough sleep, you’re probably already leaning on coffee pretty hard. Good news: Once you perk up with a cup of the stuff, you can use some grounds to give yourself the appearance of being bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, too. Simply combine some fresh grounds with egg white and apply to the undereye area for a quick treatment that reduces the appearance of dark circles and puffiness.
11. Fireplace cleaner
You love your wood-burning fireplace but you’re less enthused about getting rid of the ashes (cue the major mess all over your favorite T-shirt). To avoid sweeping with a dusty cloud all around you, scatter some damp coffee grounds onto the pile of ashes. The grounds will weigh down the ashes and prevent those pesky smoke clouds from forming.
12. Plant fertilizer
Haven’t hopped on the compost train yet? Fear not: You can still use coffee grounds to help your garden thrive. In this case, the grounds aren’t left to compost with other material—a process that yields richer soil, primed for easy planting—but are rather used as fertilizer to feed the plants themselves. Coffee grounds can help make sure that the nutritional needs of fast-growing plants are met, even if you aren’t putting compost in the ground. Still, be sure to have some regular fertilizer on hand as well, since the high acidity of coffee grounds should be balanced out to achieve a more neutral pH for your plants.
13. Natural cleaner
We touched on this one already, but thanks to their gentle scrubbing power, coffee grounds are great to have in your cleaning arsenal—and this applies to more than just the kitchen chores mentioned above. If you want to steer clear of the harsh chemicals found in commercial cleaning products, just bust out some old coffee grounds and use them to scrub the toilet bowl, bathtub and just about anything else, provided the surface isn’t porous. (Note: Coffee grounds will stain porous surfaces.)
14. Flea remover
OK, this is a weird one...but it works. If your furry friend has come home from an outdoor romp with some unwelcome guests, you can use coffee grounds to show those parasites the door. For this one, you’re basically going to give your pet the same exfoliating treatment we recommended for your own skin: Put your pup or cat (good luck) in the bath, sprinkle coffee grounds all over your pet’s wet fur and start scrubbing against the natural flow of the fur. The end result? The abrasive action of the grounds will remove the fleas from your critter’s coat...sans chemicals. Just keep in mind that coffee grounds should only be used externally since they can be toxic to dogs if consumed.