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. Bob La Bonte says:

    If you are a smoker of pipes you might try coffee grounds (dry) a mild smoke and better for you tobacco.

  2. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Wait a minute Kelli..I thought she was talking about used coffee grounds….I think I will mix up some oil/grounds to try..need to get rid of left over dry skin from Winter…

  3. Kelli says:

    Mmmm COFFEECOFFEECOFFEE! I agree that it’s one of the world’s best…uh, BEST. Love the smell of brewing coffee…add to that some frying bacon, maybe some browning onions and some baking bread and you’ve got yourself a veritable olfactory-o-gasm. I do on occasion drink tea, even hot water with lemon, and I have a lovely teapot collection. BUT I simply cannot abide those who drink DECAF coffee! http://tinyurl.com/qaxw8wz I mean, why even bother at that point, right? Isn’t coffee ALL about the caffeine anyway? Just drink water, fer cryin out loud. Dip a brown crayon in it if you need color.

    I must admit that the price of baking soda is about 1/10th that of coffee, so cost-wise, baking soda is deffo a bargain, tho it doesn’t smell as yummy.

    But what about used coffee grounds? Do any of those ideas work well with used grounds rather than dry/semi-fresh? I thought I remember a friend telling me that used grounds were great fertilizer…

  4. Sakura S. says:

    Listen, girlie. I turned the other cheek when you exalted the “virtues” of carrot cake – a miserable fraud of a dessert if ever there was one. I could have bitten back, saying things like, “If I wanted freakin’ vegetables in my dessert, I’d eat a salad first!” or “Know why the cream cheese frosting is so critical? Because that’s the only thing that makes carrot cake even remotely palatable!”. But I love you, so I kept my mouth shut. Then with the brussel sprout hatefest. I had to delicately, nicely, try to steer you in the right direction, explaining that they need to be fresh, and that they are delicious when roasted. But TEA??? Really? Tea is everything. Tea makes anything better. I have no less than 27 teas in my cupboard right now. I have a teapot collection. It’s who I AM, girl. So you’ll have to excuse me if I’m a bit hurt. I thought we were pals. I thought our mutual hatred of house centipedes was a bonding moment. I looked up to you and would point out the latest thing you were doing on your blog to my friends. But now, I just don’t know. I’m going to go sulk for awhile…maybe have a cup of tea…sniff…

    • JMC says:

      Haha and today’s comment thread prize goes to Sakura S.! Hope the tea was good.

    • Elizabeth says:

      I think I love you.
      I mean I like coffee occasionally but I LOVE tea. Nothing weird about it. Watch all those coffee drinkers WITHOUT coffee – weird and downright dangerous. Don’t mind carrot cake, tho’….

    • Karen says:

      Sakura S. Well now I feel bad. In fact I went to bed last night almost in tears which hasn’t happened since the fella ran away from home. But I think this may have been even more painful for me. To think … a comment that was more entertaining than my post. This did nothing to improve my opinion of tea drinkers. You’re a mean, mean bunch. ~ karen!

      • Tina Jeffrey says:

        They’re mean because they haven’t had sufficient coffee. I know I’M mean when I haven’t!

  5. Mary W says:

    My favorite ice cream treat is plain coffee ice-cream – no chocolate bits, syrup or nothing – just coffee. So I found a great way to enjoy my treat with the stupid little 1/2 cup whipped so called ice cream that I can have with Type 2 diabetes. Taa Daa – coffee ice cream by – 1/8 teaspoon instant coffee granules smooshed in the palm of my hand into powder then sprinkled on top of the aforementioned faux ice-cream. This is a VERY important new use for coffee for me. (When I make real coffee I, of course, use the hot brew over the stupid ice-cream but don’t make it often.) Does anyone have a recipe for making chocolate covered coffee beans? That is also a great treat that has Little to No Carbs.

    • Mary W says:

      Forgot to mention I put used grounds in a box in each drawer of my chest of drawers. Nothing smells better when opening those drawers unless I hide dark chocolate inside.

  6. ellen says:

    Coffee grounds spread under your delicious hostas will kill slugs and will not harm the birds and toads you want in your garden. Works a treat.

  7. Roxy says:

    Another great use for used coffee grounds …
    Use the grounds to fill that ugly dirt/mud rut in the grass beside the driveway created by that driver in the household who has difficulty keeping ALL the tires on the driveway. The deep coffee ground color does not fade and the grounds do not wash away – not even in rain or melting snow.

  8. Laura Bee says:

    I walk into walls without my coffee.
    All great tips & I will use each & every one. Once I get a hydrangea.

  9. Kari says:

    I just read about this tip recently. Apparently Cleopatra used it to help keep her dark locks dark & shiny?
    Might have to it this morning. Camping, sitting by the fire enjoying my cup of joe & today is shower day!

  10. Jane says:

    Coffee grounds are great to wash your hands with too. If I’ve been working in the kitchen with garlic, fish or another stinky food I will grab a small handful of grounds and mix it with my foaming soap to wash off my hands. Smells all go away! I also take a big whiff of coffee beans or grounds to clean my “sniff palette” when working with essential oils. After mixing a few oils everything starts to smell the same, one big whiff of the coffee beans and I can smell the different scents again. Lastly, instead of olive oil I use coconut oil to make a face, and body scrub. I take a small canning jar and add a few heaping tablespoons of coconut oil and then microwave them just enough to easily mix in some coffee grounds. The mixture will harden back up at room temperature and is great for scooping out in the shower. Great to exfoliate!

  11. Christie says:

    How about a use for those of us addicted to Nespresso? That’s a latte (haha) pods going to waste!!

    • Mary W says:

      Well I guess that settles it LOL. (Sewer may be completely different from septic.) Anyway, I use mine for mulch mostly and don’t put it down the drain since I use the baking soda. Maybe that is why mine have never clogged up. The one thing I never do is just throw it away in the garbage.

  12. sheila says:

    Doesn’t having the coffee grounds go down the drain clog up the plumbing eventually??

    • Mary W says:

      My father was some kind of certified sewage/chemical person and he told me coffee grounds were excellent for the drain if you use plenty of water while dumping them as they help clean it – same as the used baking soda from the fridge. He also said the WORST thing for septic tanks was extra soft toilet paper that turns to paper pulp and forms giant sludge pools..

      • Bols says:

        I remember my father never allowed dumping of coffee grounds into the sink. After reading on some other sites the claim the coffee grounds are “excellent cleaner” for the plumbing, I asked my neighbour who is a plumber. He says coffee grounds are the worst thing you can do to your plumbing.

  13. Connie says:

    I will not even date a non-coffee drinker! Right off the bat you know they’re not trustworthy and weird! They probably don’t like ice cream either.

    In restaurants, this is how I request coffee: “Is your coffee…..fresh? If so, I’ll have a cup”. (Try and say it with dramatic pauses and a fake British accent. Or real one if you happen to be British.) If the waiter/waitress hesitates or stutters, just say no thank you. The response you want is, “I’ll check, if it’s not fresh I’ll make a fresh pot”. Then say, “Very good.”

    And Karen, stay out of my head! I know you were rooting around in there and used all my thoughts about baking soda in the fridge. Or at least give me the credit!

  14. Robin Fishback says:

    Wonderfull post! I’ve not used coffee grounds and olive oil but I use coffee grounds and coconut oil and it feels wonderful after a hard day putting coffee grounds in the garden. Yeah. We drink a lot of coffee. Our Jura Capressa grinds the beans and stores the used grounds to make that part very easy of us.

  15. Nancy says:

    If you ever spill milk on the carpet of your car or have a refrigerator go out and not discovered until all meat, fish, poulry etc has rotted, coffee grounds and crushed newspapers will take out the smell.

  16. 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

  17. 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!

  18. 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.

  19. 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!

  20. 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.

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