12 Ways You Can Use Old Coffee Grounds

Updated on: August 30, 2023
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Can you reuse coffee grounds

Looking for ways to reuse old coffee grounds? This guide will tell you everything you need to know about recycling or reusing your coffee grounds for the greater good!

You may think of coffee as nothing more than your favorite morning beverage. It’s the dark and delicious drink that makes the start of your day just a little bit more bearable.

But believe it or not, there’s actually a whole lot more to coffee than just drinking it.

In fact, the bit of your coffee that you tend to bin actually has multiple uses. Coffee grounds are incredibly versatile, and there are many ways you can put them to good use.

So can reuse coffee grounds to make more coffee?

Well, technically, the answer is yes. But brewing coffee again with the same coffee grounds isn’t recommended. You’re just going to end up with a weak and bitter drink that has less flavor and less caffeine—in other words, coffee without all the good stuff.

Fortunately, there are far better ways to reuse coffee grounds that don’t result in a drink that resembles dishwater.

Join us as we explore 12 different ways to use spent or old ground coffee in your day-to-day life to make the most out of your coffee beans!

You’ll end up wondering why you haven’t been doing this for ages!

1. Make All Natural Compost

reuse coffee grounds as natural compost

Coffee may be full of caffeine, but that’s not all it has to offer.

Coffee grounds are rich in nutrients like potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus. These nutrients all happen to be really good for plants (1), providing them with the extra energy and sustenance they need to grow and become strong and durable.


Simply mix your spent coffee grounds into the soil around your plants, and they’ll promote healthy growth. Just don’t concentrate the coffee too much in specific areas, a caffeine buzz isn't something plants are after...

In addition to adding nutrients to the soil, coffee grounds also make a good natural pesticide, warding off pests such as snails and slugs. This makes coffee grounds an excellent all-natural bug repellant that won’t harm animals, it just deters them.

When it comes to worms, coffee does a good job too.

Because worms don’t generally have teeth (thank goodness!), the finely sized particles of the grounds help them to digest plant matter, and they end up producing a gritty substance in their gut. This helps them to break down food better, which is great for the overall composting and fertilization process.

2. DIY Fire Starters

Believe it or not, used coffee grounds are highly flammable.

So, if you incorporate them into your fire-starting kit, you’ll end up with an incredibly flammable product. Best of all, this is super convenient if you’re camping or doing something similar, because you can make use of the coffee grounds you’ve produced for your morning cup.

Obviously, after the brewing process, make sure to dry out the grounds properly before adding them to your fire!

As a bonus, they’ll not only help you start a fire every single time without fault but the smell of burning coffee grounds is also bound to add a delicious aroma to the air.

3. Clean and Scrub Pots and Pans

If you’re considering reusing coffee grounds for cleaning, you’re thinking smart—they’re obviously quite coarse, so they’re a really effective cleaning product.

They make an awesome abrasive cleaner for those surfaces that require just a little bit more texture and scrubbing power, like pots and pans with stubbornly ingrained food or even cutting boards. Because they’re coarse, the grounds help you get into those hard-to-reach places.

Coffee grounds are also great for helping to remove stubborn stains.

To do this effectively, use the grounds to scrub your dishes or boards with a sponge, and then make sure to wash the dishes off properly afterward if you don’t want to be left with a coffee flavor or smell.

The best part of using coffee grounds for cleaning is that it’s a totally natural product, and it’s free.

4. Dye Fabric or Paper

reuse coffee grounds as dye

I’m sure we all remember a certain primary school project that involved creating a treasure map of sorts and using tea or coffee to dye the paper.

I mean, that’s a memory that lives rent-free in my mind. Well, that’s because coffee grounds really do make an excellent dye—and not just for paper!

To use coffee grounds as a natural dye, all you need to do is simmer the coffee grounds in water, strain the liquid, and soak the fabric in the dye solution. You’ll end up with a vintage, earthy color, and you decide how dark you want it by diluting it with water if you want a little less intensity.

Remember, the longer you leave the fabric to soak, the more permanent the dyeing job will be.

5. Banish Bad Odors

Often, you’ll end up with strong and unpleasant smells in your refrigerator or other parts of your kitchen, such as the pantry or under-sink closet. The best, easiest, and most natural way to solve this problem is by using coffee.

Dry out some coffee grounds and put them in a small bowl or open packet, and then place them in the affected areas near spoiled or fragrant foods. The coffee grounds will absorb and neutralize unpleasant smells in no time at all.

The best thing is that they won’t do that by just making everything smell like coffee. Because you’re using dried grounds as opposed to freshly used coffee grounds, they’ll hardly smell like coffee at all.

And, if there is a slight coffee aroma, you can bet it’s a whole lot better than the odor that was there before…

6. Repel Pests and Ants

Coffee grounds are great for repelling pests in your garden, as bugs can smell their scent far better than we can. As most bugs’ sense of smell is heightened, the smell of the grounds is a deterrent.

All you have to do is sprinkle coffee grounds in the soil, and you’ll stop the critters from attacking your plants.

Just don’t overdo it. If you put too much coffee in the soil, you can overpower the other nutrients and make it more difficult for the plants to grow.

This trick also works well on ants.

Simply reuse coffee grounds by leaving them in a bowl in your kitchen, on the counter, or in a cupboard (wherever you’re having a problem), and you’ll certainly have far fewer ants bothering you than before.

7. Treat Your Skin with Body Scrub Coffee Grounds

reuse coffee grounds as a body scrub

We’ve noted the coarse texture of used coffee grounds and how useful they can be for cleaning pots, pans, and other dishes. But believe it or not, they make great beauty products too!

You can create a wonderfully luxurious skin scrub by adding some grounds to coconut oil or honey. It’ll feel nice and soft, and the coffee grounds will help to gently exfoliate and remove dead skin cells.

You can also use body scrub to get rid of cellulite with used grounds (2). Yes, you read that right!

While the grounds don’t have enough caffeine in them to give you a buzz, they do still have enough to slightly dilate the blood vessels and reduce the appearance of those dreaded dimples in your skin. Plus, the stimulating effects of the caffeine can tighten the skin by eliminating excess water and improving blood flow.

Last but not least, you can use coffee grounds to make an antioxidant bath. The antioxidants in coffee have the potential to reduce inflammation and reduce the premature aging of cells.


Tie a handful of coffee grounds in a muslin cloth or put them in a bath bomb mold to create a lovely, rich, coffee-infused bathing experience.

8. Pamper Your Hair 

It’s not just your skin that’ll benefit from the use of coffee! These days, hair masks are a must-have, and unsurprisingly, coffee is a great ingredient due to its high nutrient content (3).

When it comes to reusing coffee grounds for a hair treatment, all you have to do is brew a nice strong pot of coffee using all grounds and then let it cool properly.

Shampoo your hair as normal, and then use the coffee to rinse through your hair. It’ll add a lovely element of shine, and for dark hair, it’ll even help add a bit of depth.

Leave the coffee rinse in for a few minutes and then wash it out thoroughly with plain water.

9. Deter Cats 

We’ve spoken about how coffee can help as a pest and ant deterrent, but it’s good for getting rid of cats too.

Yes, cats make wonderful pets, but if your neighbors have a cat that you’re allergic to or that keeps on using your garden as its litter tray, you need to get rid of them without causing anyone harm.

That’s where used coffee grounds save the day—again.

You just need to take used coffee grounds and sprinkle them around the areas the cats frequent, whether as a visitor or to potty.

Cats generally dislike the smell of coffee because it’s so potent, so it’ll most likely discourage them from returning to those spots. Hopefully, you won’t have to keep doing it after a while either because they should start to associate those areas with the smell.

10. Repair Scratches On Furniture & Floors 

This one may be a bit of a surprise, but you can use coffee grounds to repair scratches on wooden furniture or floors. 

All you have to do is make a paste by combining coffee grounds and water. Then, apply the paste to the scratches and let it sit there for a while. Then, wipe it off.

The coffee grounds will help to darken those areas, so although it can’t actually fix the scratches, it will cover and camouflage them, making your wood look almost as good as new.

11. Create Your Own Coffee-Scented Candles

reuse coffee grounds to make scented candles

If you’ve taken your coffee hobby all the way from casually brewing a pot with a drip coffee maker to doing a barista course and still can’t get enough of the aroma, coffee-scented candles are the answer.

Reusing old coffee grounds to make scented candles is a wonderful way to infuse your home or workspace with the scent of a fresh brew.

Making coffee-scented candles is incredibly simple. You’ll follow all the usual steps for making candles at home, and while the wax is on the heat, you just stir in spent coffee grounds. You can use coarse grounds for a more rustic look or a fine grind to create candles that have a smoother texture.

After pouring the wax into a mold and letting it cool, you’ll have coffee-scented candles you can use at home or give to your caffeine-loving friends as gifts.

12. Make Coffee-Scented Soaps 

We’ve spoken about what to do with coffee grounds to make an exfoliator, a dishwasher, and a hair mask—we’ve even spoken about candles—but you can also use coffee to wash your hands thoroughly and make your own soaps from scratch.

In the same way that you’ll make candles, you’ll add coffee grounds to your mix of lye and oils, and then let it cool in molds. Once again, you can use coarse or fine grounds to create a texture, with your soap doubling up as an exfoliant if you keep the grind coarse. After that, all that is left to do is enjoy clean, coffee-scented hands!

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Frequently Asked Questions About Reusing Coffee Grounds

Can you reuse coffee grounds for a cold brew coffee?

Sure, you certainly could, but as we said, it’s going to have a weak coffee taste, and it’ll have far less caffeine. So, if you’re not looking for something strong, reused coffee grounds may be the way to go! Don’t forget the cold brew method requires full immersion for about 18 to 24 hours in cold water. Otherwise, use fresh coffee grounds to make any drink, including cold brews!

Can used coffee grounds go bad? 

It’s pretty unlikely, but if you’re worried, give it the old sniff test. If it smells strange or rancid, don’t reuse coffee grounds. For fresh grounds, avoid exposing them to heat and moisture.

Does freezing coffee grounds make them stay fresh?

Yes, if you freeze coffee grounds, they’ll stay fresher for longer. The best way to do this is to vacuum seal the bag. However, if this isn’t an option, you can simply package the coffee grounds and freeze them. Just remember that if they’re not vacuum sealed in a bag, the grounds won’t last as long.

Do certain plants not like coffee grounds?

Most plants benefit from the addition of coffee to the soil, but some don’t—these include geranium, Chinese mustard, asparagus fern, and Italian ryegrass. 

Do you need to refrigerate used coffee grounds?

This depends on the outside temperature, but if it’s fairly warm, you run the risk of the coffee getting moldy if you leave it out. If you’re going to reuse coffee grounds, put them in the fridge to avoid that problem. 

Can you make French Press coffee using spent coffee grounds?

Technically you can, but your French Press coffee will be weak and most of the caffeine would have dissolved in the first coffee. Also, make sure you don't use spent espresso pucks! The grind is too fine and some grounds may make it into your cup!

reusing coffee grounds

The Bottom Line

There you have it, dear coffee drinker!

You now know what to do with used grounds. Now, every cup you brew at home has so much more potential!

Felipe is a tea expert with an engineering background! He loves to drink and learn all about tea and coffee. His love for tea was discovered while living in Japan and his favorites are Sencha & Pu'er!

This article is intended for informational purposes only. It is not meant to replace professional medical advice, treatment or diagnosis. Do not consume any type of coffee, tea or herbal infusion if you are allergic to it. The information in this article is not intended to treat serious medical conditions. Please seek professional medical advice before using home remedies.

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