12 Easy Ways to Reuse/Recycle Used Coffee Grounds
What if I told you that the life of your ground coffee doesn’t need to end after brewing?
Yes, those grounds can be reused and recycled in plenty of ways, from fertilizing your garden to exfoliating your skin. They don’t need to end up in your trashcan.
Let me give you some easy and creative ways to reap more benefits from your coffee grinds, beyond your cup of joe of course. After going through the things I’ve listed below, you wouldn’t want to throw away those soggy grounds ever again.
Benefits of Reusing Coffee Grounds
Every year, around half a million tonnes of ground coffee waste goes to landfills. You might want to think about that before you take out those used grounds from the coffee machine and throw them into the bin.
It’s natural to feel a bit of guilt knowing that you’re contributing to this much waste, I used to feel this too. But after learning that some companies are already making innovations to reduce this (like making biofuels, biomass pellets, and coffee cups from grinds), I wanted to do my part at home as well.
By reusing those your coffee grounds, not only can you help curb their environmental impact, but you can also reap the many benefits even after they’ve done their main purpose.
12 Ways to Reuse and Recycle Used Coffee Grounds
With the right knowledge and supplies, you can put your used coffee grounds to good use in various ways. Let me share with you 12 ways that you can still use your coffee grounds after they’ve pumped out your beloved beverage:
1. Fertilizer for Your Garden
Coffee grounds are filled with nutrients and micronutrients like nitrogen, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and other minerals that can help fertilize your plants. Spread the grounds around or work them into the soil before planting new flowers or vegetables for healthier growth.
2. Add It to Your Compost Bin
Coffee grounds are considered green compost material and are high in nitrogen, which can help add nutrients to the compost pile. Remember though that you have to balance the addition of coffee grounds with brown compost material. I always mix mine with the dead leaves and dry grasses from my backyard.
3. Insect Repellant
While there’s no conclusive evidence that coffee grounds can also combat most common pests, a study has found that coffee grounds can repel cockroaches. Say goodbye to these little critters by leaving about 15 grams of coffee grounds near entryways and cracks where bugs might enter.
4. Combat Unwanted Odors
Coffee grounds work wonders at absorbing odors because they trap moisture while releasing their own smell—the aroma lingers but never overpowers the senses. I use it as a natural deodorizer in my fridge and I even rub it on my hands after cooking followed by a thorough wash.
5. Natural Cleaning Scrub
Coffee grounds have a coarse texture that makes them ideal for scrubbing hard-to-clean kitchen utensils and cookware such as your pots and pans. You can also use them to remove caked-on food from surfaces around the house. Just mix them with warm, soapy water and scrub the surface with a soft sponge until clean. However, I do not recommend using it on things where it can leave a stain.
6. Fireplace Cleaner
Before lighting up that hearth, try rubbing some old java on soot stains inside fireplaces or chimneys to loosen dirt and debris away from porous surfaces like brick walls quickly and easily. The damp coffee grounds can help cut down dust and particulate matter, making it easier to clean up leftover soot and ashes.
7. Repair Furniture Scratches
If you happen to have furniture made of dark wood, you’d also want to take advantage of the fact that coffee grounds are abrasive. Conceal scratches on your furniture by applying the grounds to the affected area with a Q-tip and letting them sit for 5 to 10 minutes before buffing them away with a soft cotton cloth.
8. Skin Exfoliant
Your daily cup of coffee offers numerous health benefits but used coffee grounds can also give some bonus benefits to the body. You can use them as an exfoliating agent to scrub away dead skin cells and promote healthy skin. This is thanks to their caffeic acid content, which is an antioxidant that can boost collagen levels and reduce premature aging of cells.
9. Help In Hair Growth
A 2007 study has found that caffeine can block the balding effects of the DHT hormone among men and that it promotes hair growth in women’s hair. So the next time you worry about your hair getting thinner, just grab some coffee grounds and give your scalp a good rub.
10. Natural Dye For Clothes
You can also show your love for coffee through your clothes which can be dyed naturally using your used coffee grounds. To do this, I simply rub wet coffee grounds on the wet fabric to create a mottled effect. You can also use it on a tie-dye project for beautiful patterns. Don’t forget to give it a good rinse once the dye has stuck.
11. Grow Some Mushrooms
It may seem like an unlikely pairing, but coffee grounds can serve as a substrate for growing mushrooms. A study has shown that spent coffee grounds can be used as an alternative substrate for cultivating straw mushrooms. Moreover, some mushroom growers have found success using coffee waste to grow oyster mushrooms.
12. Make Coffee-Scented Candles
Finally, let those coffee grounds make your home smelling like good coffee even without the presence of a cup by lighting up a DIY scented candle. Just pour the candle wax into a jar or a mug with a candle wick, sprinkling dry coffee grounds as you go. Let dry and use whenever you seek that lovely coffee scent.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Are Coffee Grounds Safe to Consume?
Coffee grounds are edible in most cases, such as toppings on desserts or pastries. But they should not be eaten on their own, because the high concentration of caffeine can be harmful when taken in large quantities or over a prolonged period of time. But you may want to consider eating coffee beans, click here to read my guide on eating them right.
Can You Reuse Coffee Grounds to Brew Coffee?
Yes, you can reuse coffee grounds up to three times for brewing before their flavor starts getting significantly weaker. However, it’s not the best option if you want a cup that makes the most out of your coffee beans. The extraction process isn’t as effective when using pre-used grounds, so your drink will end up tasting dull and flat.
How Can I Store Used Coffee Grounds for Later Use?
First off, make sure you properly dry out your used grounds to avoid the growth of mold. Spread them out on a baking sheet lined with newspaper and let them sit in the sun or pop them in the oven at low heat until they are completely dried out. Then store them the way you store your coffee beans, putting them in an airtight container such as a glass mason jar or an airtight plastic container.
And these are the ways you can help reduce the waste of your favorite morning drink. You can repurpose all of your used coffee grounds and put them on your body for thicker hair and better skin; in your garden as fertilizer and compost; or inside your home to fight pests and unwanted smells.
I hope that like me, you get a sense of satisfaction in putting effort into recycling your coffee grounds after making a brew. After all, it’s a step forward to helping reduce the world’s coffee waste.
So, where will you be using your used-up coffee grounds? Let me know in the comments below.