5 uses for Coffee Grounds



Coffee is one of the simple pleasures in life.  I love it so much I don’t even know how to explain it without making myself sound like someone you’d warn your children about.  I will talk about coffee, drink coffee, go to bed early just so I can wake up and drink coffee.

Sometimes I even have a little shot of coffee before I go to bed to tide me over before I can have more coffee.  I am suspicious of people who do not love coffee as much as I do.  I’m REALLY suspicious of tea drinkers.  Why stop at tea?  Why not be one of those weirdos who drinks hot water with lemon?

So it comes as no surprise that this house produces a lot of coffee grounds.  I usually throw them in the compost bin, occasionally I actually (gasp) throw them in the garbage like a regular person and other times I just roll around in them. A few months ago I realized people react weirdly if you smell of pure coffee so I thought I’d try to figure out a few other things I could do with my spent grounds.

From me to you …. 5 uses for coffee grounds.


1. Make a pincushion! (I’m getting the stupid/weird/least useful tip out of the way first)


Apparently dried, used coffee grounds make the perfect pincushion filling because they prevent the pins from getting rusty. I’ve never had a problem with rusty pins, but if you have then I’ve just saved the day for you.  And that is why I chose to include this weird little tip.

2.  Use it in the fridge to absorb smells instead of using baking soda.

This really and truly works. I’ve tried it and was amazed. Just fill a bowl with old coffee grounds and set it in the refrigerator like you would a box or bowl of baking soda.  The other added bonus is when need baking soda it’ll be in the cupboard not sitting in the fridge absorbing 2 years worth of smells.  This in turn means you won’t have to stare at the smell filled bowl of baking soda and contemplate whether you could get away with using it in your cookies.



3.  Turn pink hydrangeas blue.

Boost the blue in your hydrangeas by amending the soil with coffee grounds. A lot of sites throw this tip around. What they don’t tell you is you need to add a LOT of coffee grounds to turn the soil acidic enough to grow blue hydrangeas. So if that’s what you want, every time you make coffee, put your grounds on the hydrangea.  Crushed egg shells will help too. But if you really want to change the colour of your hydrangeas use aluminum sulphate like I show you here. 


4.  Clean your pots and pans.

Out of abrasive scrubbing pads? Coffee grounds in the pan will scrub off most messes.



5.  Exfoliate your skin.


This is easily my favourite coffee grounds use and I use it all the time. Mix up some coffee grounds with olive oil until it’s like a paste. Keep it near the sink to clean up after gardening, painting or anything else that gets your hands a mess. It’s also reportedly a great face mask. I’ve never tried it but I don’t doubt it for a second. The coffee grounds exfoliate your skin while the olive oil leaves your hands feeling soft and moisturized. I’ve always thought salt scrubs were pointless because salt extracts moisture which is the exact opposite of what you want to do for your skin. Coffee grounds also have the added bonus of making your hands smell like coffee.

But not your whole body.  That’s just weird.  Apparently.



  1. Barbara Balkin says:

    @sonja – We use the already made coffee instead of watercolor. It’s a great lesson in ‘values’. I brought a variety of empty mugs to class and they used those for reference to paint their monochromatic ‘watercolor’. My site has lots more on my blog, http://www.myartkin.com

  2. Barb says:

    My best use for coffee grounds is in the garden. Those nasty bright red lily beetles that left my asiatic lilies nothing but sad little sticks last year HATE coffee. Thisyear I heavily sprinkled coffe grounds around the lilies and almost all of the beetles went away (probably to my neighbours’ gardens) but my lilies look great. They also seems to deter the rabbits from eating my bellflowers. That is still in testing trials, but early results look good ;) I hear hair clippings will work on rabbits, but I need a source…

    • Laura Bee says:

      Wish I’d know that tip years ago. My Nana’s tiger lilies bloomed once for me. I could never keep those bugs away. Our new house has a load of lilies -not sure what kind, but I’ll try this! Thanks!

  3. Connie S. says:

    Enjoyed the tips Karen. I luv, luv, luv coffee and always start my day with it in my favourite mug of ccourse ;) and the bonus is it smells almost better than it tastes as its brewing. I’ve been dumping the grounds on the garden beds with the hydrangeas for a couple years now and they seem to like it.
    There is also a rhododendrum in there with them so i like to think it will benefit from it too. It had its first blooms a couple of weeks ago.
    I’m definitely going to try the grounds it in the fridge – always thought it was a waste of a perfectly good box of baking soda.

  4. RosieW says:

    I use grounds in the garden. The brewed grounds are NOT acidic, according to a ton of reading I’ve done. Get big bagfuls at Starbucks, spread fairly thin on the soil. If too thick, will dry with a crust that isn’t permeable. Test in your gardens: promise you’ll love the results.

    • Karen says:

      Hi RosieW. Used coffee grounds are definitely acidic, they just aren’t very acidic. And definitely not as acidic as grounds that haven’t been brewed. (By acidic that means anything below a ph of 7.) Coffee grounds are around 6. In fact, I just tested mine and that’s exactly what they came out to. And very true about the “coffee crust”, lol. ~ karen!

      • Julie says:

        Hi Karen

        What is the PH of your soil? I’ve read that in areas that get their moisture from rain the soil would be slightly acidic. This proved to be true in my area of New Brunswick. So…if I was using coffee grounds at a PH of 6, I would be making my soil LESS acidic.

      • Julie says:

        Meant to say, when I tested my soil it came in at 5.5…so a bit more acidic than coffee grounds!

      • Susan says:

        Egg shells are alkaline, so those would be for pinker hydrangea, though almost no one wants them pink, they want them blue. I hate the taste of coffee though I don’t mind the smell when it’s brewing. I’m a tea drinker, has been since I was, like seven. But I’m very particular. I like a certain China cup, evaporated milk and two teaspoons of sugar. No artificial sweeteners ever. And a mug warmer hot plate because I like my tea very, very hot to the last mouthful. And I linger over my tea with a pile of mail, catalogs or magazines. Love it!

  5. A guy says:

    My Irish mother always had a kettle on the stove, so I have been a tea drinker and obviously untrustworthy since 5 or 6. Believe me (or maybe you shouldn’t)….

    If you want to freak out people, go into a Dunkin’ Donuts and ask for a cup of tea. The whole place gets really quiet.

  6. Susannah says:

    We save our grounds in a one gal. bucket and about 3 or 4 times a year I spread them under my blueberry bushes. A grower friend gave me this tip. My blueberry bushes are happy!

  7. Mike says:

    Agree with your statements about coffee drinkers. Non-coffee drinkers definitely have a problem. And if visiting a someone who is not a coffee drinker, and they offer you a cup, never, no never, drink it. Whatever it is, it will most definitely NOT be coffee. That’s why when they bring it out, it will come with a gallon of creamer and as much sugar. (Since they don’t drink it, they always buy the “bargin” brand, and they’ve had it for about 4 years. Up in the cabinet. Behind the brown sugar) Enjoyed the post!

    • Erin says:

      So true! I’ve been offered instant coffee and (gasp!) a coffee “teabag” so I can brew my own cup.
      These homes are the ones where I always ask for tea.

    • Karen says:

      LOL. That is VERY true. I was actually served instant coffee recently by one of them. But if was coffeeish. So I drank it. ~ karen!

      • Andrea says:

        When I visit my best friend who is not a coffee drinker, we always go to Starbucks the night before and get a cup of coffee and put it in the fridge so I can have coffee! (I was unpacking a couple of boxes from storage the other day and had unearthed my espresso machine and my giant party pot. I looked at my kitchen that now had 5 coffee pots in play n sight and two more in a cabinet and thought – I am one weird-ass Mormon.)

  8. jainegayer says:

    Always try to start the day with a pot of french press Starbucks House blend. I’m really good for nothing until I have my coffee, then the grounds go in my compost bin. I’m actually getting a little nervous right now because I just remembered I needed to stop yesterday and pick up a bag in case I didn’t have enough for this morning’s coffee fix. S#/?

  9. Sally says:

    I have spied that Jura Una in your kitchen and am incredibly jealous! My current favourite roast, other than a small local place that roasts beans, is the Organica stuff you can get at costco. I always end up coming back to it!

    • Karen says:

      I love my coffee maker with all of my heart. As a second best my vote is for a small stovetop percolator. ~ karen!

      • Naomi says:

        Yes! I just found a very nice Coletti Bozeman 12-cup stovetop percolator at my local Goodwill store. My first batch of coffee in that pot was indescribably delicious. 12 cups is a bit much for my single self, so I ended up freezing some of it in ice cube trays to add to my iced coffee which I also love, and also just refrigerated some to warm up later. BTW, I’ve just discovered your site and am loving it so much; you keep me in stitches, but I also appreciate your style of doing “stuff” which all makes very good sense.

  10. Tim says:

    Your local purveyor of all things bath and body just made a brand new coffee scrub this past week. Coincidence? Must be something in the water (Coffee perhaps!).

    • Karen says:

      Ha! That’d be Noelle from Art of Doing Stuff advertiser Ellenoire Tim is referring to everyone. :) ~ karen!

  11. Ann says:

    Love my one and only large cup of coffee in the morning first thing. But alas, I am quite sensitive to caffeine and can only have that one cup. And no decaf for me, as I don’t care for the process they use to make it. My fav coffee right now is the New Orleans style, half coffee, half chicory. Allows me to have a bigger cup and still keep the jitters away.

    I make my coffee with the cold brew method. And then heat up my one big cup each morning. Then the grounds go right out and under my baby evergreens. The slow speed at which they break down and acidify the soil works out perfectly.

    I would love to try the coffee/olive oil scrub. But alas, since I produce such little quantities of grounds I can’t. But sugar and olive oil work quite well and doesn’t pull moisture out of the skin the way salt does.

  12. Jacquie says:

    I hate the smell and taste of both coffee and tea – my British mum nearly disowned me when I gave tea up aged 6. Struggled on with one cup of coffee a week whilst watching the Sunday afternoon film with my mum but that went when I was about 9. Now I drink hot ribena as my hot drink but wouldn’t dream of drinking it cold! I’m such a freak when I think about it. But I can be trusted I assure you even though I hate coffee with a passion.

  13. Alexandra says:

    I’ve never been a big coffee drinker, but I did have a basic espresso maker for years (now upgraded to one of those fancy pants big ass coffee machines that do it all, thanks to my best friend who herself has upgraded to a better model!).
    I’ve always used coffee grounds to catch lingering smells in the fridge, and it works great. I also used it to fertilized my potted rose, which was absolutely thriving on it until it froze to death a few years ago. :(
    My favourite use by far for used coffee grounds is for exfoliating my whole body. I like mixing it with orange-scented shower gel, and I end up smelling like an Italian bakery. The coffee grounds are the BEST SCRUB EVER. They are effective, yet gentle, and I’m hoping they won’t kill marine animals like the little plastic bits do.

    But you have to be really really diligent when rinsing off, because the grounds like to hide in nooks and crannies where you might not enjoy them hiding, unless you are in an intimate relationship with a true coffee lover, if you catch my drift.

    • Alice says:

      “(T)he grounds like to hide in nooks and crannies where you might not enjoy them hiding, unless you are in an intimate relationship with a true coffee lover.” LOL: you made me spew coffee!

  14. Karen says:

    They also contain nitrogen so put some in the bottom of your paper pots for seedlings. I add some warm water to the used grounds and soak white paper to make aged looking paper. Good for Halloween signs and invitations. And fake Victorian love letters. When you have to clean fireplace ashes, first add damp grounds so the dust is less.

  15. SusanR says:

    I opened a 5 pound bag of French Roast from Costco last week and tossed the bag into the recycling bin. The next morning the kitchen smelled wonderful. So, I took some of the beans and put them into each of my house plant pots. Wow! Better than chemical air fresheners.
    Top that for weird!
    I have two coffee makers, two espresso machines, two stove top espresso makers, a French press and a Chemex coffee pot. I have yet to find an electric coffee pot that makes decent coffee. Recommendations, anyone? It has to be STRONG.
    My favorite coffees are Peet’s and Whiting’s. Do you have Peet’s in Canada?

  16. trish says:

    O.K. I feel better having read your “5 uses for coffee” post because I too will think of my morning coffee moment as I hit the hay. It is so important to me to start my morning engines running smoothly…especially after reading a study confirming caffeine to be beneficial before a workout. LOVE that !
    I may try #2 and #5 but even though I have experienced rusty pins I doubt I would make a coffee pin cushion.
    Thanks for making coffee a priority !

  17. Berry says:

    Let me second the soap suggestion. Grounds make a lovely exfoliating soap.

    You can also sniff coffee grounds in between tasting sessions of alcohol or cheeses to reset your taste buds and nose a bit.

    • Carol says:

      or you could just sniff coffee grounds in between tasting sessions of alcohol…

    • Debbie says:

      A makeup/perfume store chain leaves out small bowls of coffee beans to sniff to clear the senses between smelling perfumes. It works.

  18. Cynthia Jones says:

    We put a couple of tablespoons in the ashtray of our car, before we use it. so we can smell coffee all day.

  19. Barbara Balkin says:

    Great ideas! I’m curious about #2. I’m switching out my baking soda tomorrow. I hate having to have two boxes of it–one for fridge and one for baking. I’m just not sure you’re being serious though. ;) Oh, oh ( see me raising my hand annoyingly?). I have one more to add: painting with extra coffee. Only EXTRA though–don’t waste it! We did this a couple weeks ago in an art class I teach–should have seen the looks on their faces.

    • Sonja Donnelly says:

      How did you paint with coffee? Did you add it to the paint for texture? Or did you use it like crushed charcoal?

      • Barbara Balkin says:

        We use the already made coffee instead of watercolor. It’s a great lesson in ‘values’. I brought a variety of empty mugs to class and they used those for reference to paint their monochromatic ‘watercolor’. My site has lots more on my blog, http://www.myartkin.com

  20. Hazel says:

    I’m drinking *ahem* hot water with lemon and ginger as I read this, but only to stop myself drinking so much coffee in the morning it was making me twitchy…

    I water my blueberries with the dregs of my coffee pots to try to keep the soil acidic (all my hydrangeas are white) and Cindy Crawford was supposed to use coffee grounds to exfoliate her whole body- it’s alleged to help reduce cellulite. No idea if it does.

    • cheryl seals says:

      HAHAHA exfoliate your whole body with coffee grounds for cellulite !!! I think i shall embrace my cellulite rather then plug the drain with coffee grounds my long hair is enough of a problem as it is…SO Here we all rejoice our cellulitus !!

    • Tina Jeffrey says:

      I always have a dab of coffee left in the morning, I’ll add it to my hydrangea tips!

  21. brenda says:

    I just found out about the one where you can wash your face with it and I even brought a bit upstairs last night to do that for the first time but then I forgot to so it’s still up there … for tonight (I now need to bring up some olive oil it looks like) …

    I knew about the smell thing because I once got a really really inexpensive art studio (that used to be part of the experimental animal farms in Guelph – that smelled like horse poop) and my friend told me no problem – once someone died in an apartment his Mom owned and she got coffee and it took the smell away … he told me to just buy gallons of coffee. I built a subfloor and put all the coffee between the 2×4’s to absorb smelly-poos forever and screwed on the plywood and it worked! I was hoping it would smell like coffee but it kind of just smelled like nothing … didn’t complain.

  22. Beth says:

    I make coffee soap. And, yes, I use the soap on my entire body. So, there.

    It actually smells really good, and gets your hands soft and clean.

    • cheryl seals says:

      BETH, Cool i can see where they soap an coffee grounds would be great for a gardener..Alas my soap making skills are mute ! Decided to stop trying to make any…Do you share or sell it ??? hint hint

  23. Muff says:

    Tea drinker exclusively, but I understand the allure of coffee (I have strong bitter receptors and can’t handle either beer or coffee, sadly) and wish that it tasted like it smells.

    My husband, however, is a coffee drinker – my favourite use of coffee grounds is to rid my house of ants – sprinkle some used coffee grounds at the place where the ants enter the house (or wherever you see them emerging from) and they will take the grounds home to the ant hill and OD on caffeine. Doesn’t harm your pets or babies and it makes the house smell nice. I’m going to try your tip for freshening the fridge – I wonder if it affects the milk?

    • Debbie says:

      Muff – Wow, I think you just explained why I can only drink mild coffee and abhor beer! I love tea and have an wall of tea in the kitchen closet – literally. The back of the door is a floor to ceiling wire rack with teas from all over the world (my husband traveled extensively for work).

      Thank you – and let me know if the coffee in the fridge make the fridge smell like coffee.

      • Muff says:

        Debbie – once I realized it was an issue of bitter receptors I felt much better about not drinking coffee. I am a very boring tea drinker – my preferred tea is a plain old orange pekoe – very dull. I’ll let you know about the coffee as deodorizer thing.

      • Debbie says:

        Muff, I would have a cup of tea with you anytime!

      • Muff says:

        tried the coffee in the fridge trick this morning – so far, so good – it just smells fresh which is what we are looking for here. The milk in the uncovered milk jug didn’t pick up any flavour.

      • Debbie says:

        Thank you! I may just try this.

    • cheryl seals says:

      COOL, never heard of the ant thing will be trying this with the coffee grounds ! An as far as making your milk taste like coffee i think that’s probably better then having curds in it an Karen drinking it, see one of her posts for that issue ! hehe I also read that coffee grounds an egg shells were good for your tomato plants in the garden….

  24. Robin C. says:

    Great post! I agree with you about not quite trusting a non-coffee drinker! Love the tips too – who knew about amending soil and using to exfoliate?!

  25. maggie van sickle says:

    I guess I am a wierdo cause I like coffee especially a Timmies Latte (large please), Tea but only herbal tea and hot water and lemon. Yum. Just sayin but I agree on coffee ground uses although I have never used them for much except the trash. Maybe my house plants could use a shot of Java grounds.

    • Della says:

      Coffee is also a great accelerator for new plants that you’re trying to get started.the caffeine gives them energy just as much as it does us humans…=)

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