For many brew enthusiasts who make their coffee at home, a typical morning looks something like this: you walk over to your kitchen, power on the coffee maker, sip your energizing cup of goodness, and then proceed to throw out the remaining coffee grounds. Sound familiar? But before you complete the last step, know that there are actually a variety of different ways you can reuse your coffee grounds. Seriously, the uses for coffee grounds run the gamut from cleaning to gardening to skincare.
Below, check out some creative uses for coffee grounds you’ve probably never thought about. And one more thing: If you don’t brew your own coffee, you can still reap all the coffee ground benefits. Many coffee shops will gladly send you home with some grounds at no cost. All you have to do is ask!
9 genius uses of coffee grounds you didn’t know you needed
1. Use coffee grounds to remove grease or oil from your hands
Got greasy or oily hands? Coffee grounds have your back (er, hands). “Use generous amounts [of coffee grounds] with a drop of detergent,” says Asser Christensen, a coffee expert and founder of The Coffee Chronicler, a website dedicated to specialty coffee. “The enzymes in the coffee help to break down the fat, and the surface area of the tiny coffee particles give the molecules something to adhere to.”
2. Use coffee grounds to eliminate bad odors
Coffee grounds contain nitrogen, making them excellent at absorbing odors. That’s why Allie Caran, director of coffee education for Brooklyn-based coffee Company Partners Coffee, recommends putting coffee grounds in an open container inside your freezer, cupboard, or anywhere else that smells funky to help neutralize the odor.
“When nitrogen is combined with carbon, sour-smelling sulfur gas gets eliminated from the air,” says Aimee Aristotelous, certified nutritionist and author of Almost Keto. “So even if you toss your grounds instead of using them in other ways, your garbage odors will be neutralized.”
3. Fertilize your garden with coffee grounds
Coffee grounds are rife with essential minerals such as calcium, potassium, nitrogen, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and chromium, which are necessary for plant growth. “Sprinkling mineral-rich coffee grounds on your garden’s soil will do wonders for your crops,” Aristotelous says. Coffee grounds also help absorb heavy metals in the soil and attract worms, which are great for your garden.
4. Repel insects with coffee grounds
“Your outdoor summertime doesn’t have to be inconvenienced by mosquitos, beetles, and fruit flies,” Aristotelous says. “Compounds found in coffee are toxic to insects.” So to help keep the insects away, she recommends drizzling some coffee grounds on the area around your outdoor sitting spaces such as your porch, balcony, or backyard. Alternatively, you can place a handful of coffee grounds in a decorative table-top planter.
5. Use coffee grounds to remove fleas
If your four-legged furry friend has fleas, coffee grounds are there for the rescue. “After shampooing, incorporate the coffee grounds throughout your pet’s fur and then rinse,” Aristotelous says. “Like other insects, fleas do not like coffee, so this can be a chemical-free way to treat your pet.”
6. Make an exfoliating body scrub using coffee grounds
It’s time to scrub away dead skin cells. Board-certified dermatologist Jennifer T. Haley, MD, FAAD, suggests turning your coffee grounds into a yummy body scrub by mixing it with jojoba oil.
“The caffeine and massaging action around the hips, belly, and thighs can help stimulate circulation,” Dr. Haley says. “The organic, cold-pressed jojoba oil is a luxurious moisturizer, so both together leave the skin soft and hydrated.”
7. Minimize cellulite appearance with coffee grounds
Coffee grounds are also said to help smooth out cellulite. “Cellulite occurs when weak connective tissue can’t contain the fat deposits in the skin,” Aristotelous says. “Caffeine is found in coffee grounds and that caffeine, when applied topically, may help to break down those fat deposits and increase blood flow to the area, which can then reduce the appearance of cellulite.”
8. Use coffee grounds as an anti-aging eye treatment
DIY skincare fanatics, rejoice! There’s no need to drop your paycheck at Sephora stocking up on the latest eye treatments. Coffee grounds are a practically free way to give your under-eye area some love.
Mix the coffee grounds with coconut oil and a little water to create a paste that you can apply under your eyes. “The coffee’s caffeine will help to stimulate blood flow, which can decrease the appearance of aging and dark circles, and coffee’s antioxidants help to fend off free radicals,” Aristotelous says.
9. Go ahead and cook with coffee grounds
One of the most common questions about coffee grounds is if they’re safe to consume. The answer is yes. “Coffee grounds that have already been used for brewing still contain caffeine, antioxidants, and fiber but just in smaller amounts than before brewing,” Aristotelous says. “They [also] contain higher levels of polyphenols. These dietary phenolic compounds help to fight UV rays and pathogens, avoid the onset of some diseases such as diabetes and cancer, and help to enhance heart health.”
Coffee grounds are a very versatile ingredient you can incorporate into different dishes for a smokey touch. Executive chef Michael Reich of JW Marriott Chicago likes mixing dark espresso coffee grounds with brown sugar and sea salt to create a sirloin steak rub for a bold, unexpected flavor combo. “Prepared on the grill, the dry rub and juices from the sirloin create a crust on the outer layer of steak,” he says.
And coffee grounds don’t just work with steak, David Burke, the executive chef, and owner of New York City’s David Burke Tavern uses coffee grounds to cook with fish, chicken, and even fruit such as roasted pineapple. Aristotelous adds that you can also add coffee grounds to baked goods (think cookies, brownies, scones, or coffee cake) to give them a rich espresso taste.