Six creative ways to recycle used coffee grounds at home

While we may have solved the plastic waste problem with our reusable coffee pods, theses still another problem that needs addressing. What to do with all the leftover coffee grounds? Let them accumulate in landfills? Keep pouring them grounds down the sink?

We’ve come up with our list of the 6 best ways you can recycle your used coffee grounds.

Read on and let us know which of these ideas you’re currently using, and which one you’re keen to try out next!

1. Fertilize Your Garden

Thus, most gardens need to be fertilized to ensure that plants have the nourishment they need to survive. Soil does not contain the essential nutrients needed for optimal plant growth. Also, as plants grow, they absorb nutrients from the soil, ultimately leaving it depleted.

Coffee grounds contain several key minerals for plant growth — nitrogen, calcium, potassium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium and chromium (1).They may also help absorb heavy metals that can contaminate soil (23).

What’s more, coffee grounds help attract worms, which are great for your garden.

To use coffee grounds as fertilizer, simply sprinkle them onto the soil surrounding your plants.


2. Compost It To Use On Your Garden Later

If you do not have an immediate need for fertilizer, you can compost your coffee grounds for later use.

Composting is a natural process that turns organic items such as food scraps and yard debris into a dark, rich material called compost. Adding compost to your garden can help the soil hold onto more nutrients and water, thereby improving the health of your plants.

So why put coffee grounds in your compost?

Coffee grounds are a good source of organic material and are rich in nitrogen so they are great for your compost. They can be considered as green material in a similar way to grass clippings, which means adding layers of coffee grounds to your compost stack is essential for the process to work most effectively.

A study (4) compared four batches of compost containing 0%, 10%, 20% and 40% coffee grounds and found the batch containing 40% coffee grounds produced the fewest greenhouse gas emissions and best quality compost

Other items should be added in between to compost include grass clippings, leaves, bark, shredded newspaper, brush, herbs, egg shells, stale bread and fruit and vegetable trimmings.


adding too much coffee grounds to your compost bin might have detrimental effects. We also recommend only layering around 1-2 centimeters of coffee at one time to prevent suffocating the compost heap since the particles are very fine and can stop air moving past.


3. Repel Insects and Pests

Certain compounds found in coffee, such caffeine and diterpenes, can be highly toxic to insects (67). Because of this, you can use coffee grounds to repel some bugs and insects.

They are effective at deterring mosquitos, fruit flies and beetles, and they may help keep other pests away too (89).

To use coffee grounds as an insect and pest repellent, simply set out bowls of grounds or sprinkle them around outdoor seating areas.

Some resources suggest can also keep pests out of your garden by scattering coffee grounds around your plants, though this is largely unverified. Try it out for yourself and let us know if it works

4. Combat Odours

Used coffee grounds can be used as a great way to absorb pesky odours around your home.

  1. In the Fridge – Just place them in an open container at the back of your fridge or freezer and forget about them as you collect more used grounds. Empty the container after a week or so.
  2. Around the house – Start by drying out the coffee grounds by laying them on a baking tray in the sun or oven at a low temperature. Then, place them in a stocking or muslin bag and tie a knot making it into a ball. Leave this in the closet, drawer, or pantry to wick away any bad smells.
  3. For your Hands – keep a bowl with coffee grounds near the sink to rub your hands with to get rid of the smell of garlic or fish. You can also add in some toothpaste the create a minty fresh exfoliating paste – perfect for the fish filleting station.

5. In your beauty routine as a skin scrub and exfoliant

Studies show that skin care products containing antioxidants and caffeine can help prevent the appearance of aging and reduce under-eye circles (1011).

Caffiene in particular has anti-inflammatory properties and stimulates blood circulation. When used around the eyes, this can help reduce the appearance of dark circles and swelling (1213).

Simply add water or coconut oil to your coffee grounds to form a paste. Apply the mixture under your eyes and let it sit for about 10 minutes before rinsing. Repeat this process daily or as needed.

The antioxidants in coffee can also help fight free radicals, which contribute to skin aging (14).

Use as a natural scrub on its own or mixed with a bit of honey and coconut oil. It’ll be more delicate on your skin than non-natural exfoliants and you won’t be polluting the environment with nasty microbeads.


6. To stain wood

Using coffee grounds for wood staining is incredibly cheap, simple and gives you a nice organic effect.

You’ll need some steel wool, vinegar, a mason jar, and of course the spend coffee grounds (15).

  1. Place a steel wool pad into a mason jar and add about 1/4 cup of used coffee grounds and about 1 to 2 cups of vinegar.
  2. Close the container, shake the mixture, and let it stew overnight. (this is the bare minimum, the longer you leave it the darker the stain will become)
  3. The next day, open the container and gently mix the stain.
  4. Using gloves, remove the steel wool and apply the stain to the project. As the stain dries it will become darker, so let the stain set for 20 minutes before applying the second coat.
  5. Repeat until you get the desired color. Remember the stain will look darker when wet so you may want to let it dry before deciding whether to add more.

What does the steel wool and vinegar do?

The iron will dissolve in the vinegar creating a solution (iron acetate). The substance reacts with the tannins in the wood making it darker. This allows the coffee stain, that would fade away quickly in sunlight, to be durable indoors and outdoors.

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