6 Genius Tricks That Will Make You Never Toss Your Old Coffee Grounds Again

a bowl of coffee grounds in front of flowers in a garden
You can use coffee grounds as a bug repellent for your garden, as well as your body. Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder

Shaking old coffee grounds into the trash is a daily affair in my household.

Fill, brew, toss, repeat.

It’s a tale as old as, well, coffee.

It felt routine until the zero-waste lifestyle became a thing. Now, I analyze everything I throw away and find ways to recycle, reuse or eliminate waste while hopefully saving some money.

That’s when I discovered all the crazy ways old coffee grounds can be used around the house. (Spoiler: It doesn’t involve making another pot of coffee.)

Coffee Grounds in the Garden

Save yourself time and money by skipping the store-bought fertilizer and go the eco-friendly route by repurposing coffee grounds into the garden.

Sprinkle them directly onto the soil and around plants. They’re rich in nitrogen and attract earthworms, which in turn aerate lawns. Consider putting half a cup of grounds with warm water in a spray bottle to use as a fertilizing mist.

Root vegetables and roses love caffeine — who do they think they are, us?

Add used coffee grounds to the soil when you sow your root veggies, and you’ll have some perky carrots.

If you need more used coffee grounds than you generate, coffee shops like Starbucks offer free bags of used grounds that you can pick up anytime.

Coffee Grounds as Bug Repellent

A man and his infant daughter on their porch with a bowl of coffee grounds as bug repellant.
Some people recommend putting coffee grounds in a bowl on your patio to keep the bugs away. Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder

I’m equally surprised and thrilled by this discovery: You can use coffee grounds as a bug repellent for your garden, as well as your body. It is safe and practically free, plus you’ll avoid dousing your skin and garden in layers of chemicals.

Putting them around the perimeter of your home or garden can protect against ants, snails and slugs. Apparently, they hate the stuff.

Some people recommend putting the grounds in a bowl on your patio to keep the bugs away, while others suggest burning coffee grounds like incense to repel bugs.

The Environmental Protection Agency says it’s safe to rub coffee grounds on your pets as flea repellent. WikiHow even put together a step-by-step tutorial of how to safely remove fleas from your dog using coffee.

Coffee Grounds in Beauty Products

Coffee grounds are a natural exfoliant, which makes them a prime ingredient for beauty care. They remove dead skin and leave skin feeling soft and renewed.

Combine used grounds with cocoa powder, milk and honey for a face mask; make them into a body scrub with coconut oil and brown sugar; or make a hair mask using coffee grounds and olive oil.

Even just rubbing used grounds onto your scalp removes residue from hair products. Sounds silly and Instagram-story-worthy, but it works.

Experiment with your own DIY beauty recipe using coffee grounds and add what you have on hand, from cinnamon and sea salt to essential oils.

Coffee Grounds to Restore Furniture

A man rubs coffee grounds into a piece of furniture to cover scratches.
Used coffee grounds stain wood naturally, remove furniture scuffs and fill in furniture scratches. Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder

If you’ve ever spilled coffee on yourself, you know it stains.

Put those special staining properties to good use by making over an old picture frame, or sprucing up chair or table legs that have seen better days.

Used coffee grounds stain wood naturally, remove furniture scuffs and fill in furniture scratches. As long as the wood you want to stain is unfinished, you’re good to go.

No need to pay for a specialist or buy paint you’ll barely use. You have everything you need with your morning cup of coffee. Hello, French roast picture frame, goodbye overpriced stain!

Coffee Grounds as a Cleaner

Coffee grounds have an abrasive quality that assists deep scrubs.

Their high acidity helps remove stubborn food particles from utensils and grill grates. Applying wet grounds to pots and pans loosens up hard-to-remove food and gives you the edge you need without all that elbow grease.

Wash any remaining grounds down the garbage disposal to sharpen the blades.

The weight from pouring damp coffee grounds over ashes in a wood-burning stove or fireplace helps to keep the ash dust down and makes it easier to clean out all that soot.

Compost Old Coffee Grounds

After you pour your final cup of coffee, don’t forget to save the grounds. Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder

If you compost at home, you can throw used coffee grounds onto your compost pile along with most coffee filters, too.

“It’s rich in nitrogen and creates a really healthy compost ecosystem,” said Sarah Weaver, co-owner of Bandit Coffee in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Just remember that coffee grounds count toward your green compost materials, so keep that in mind when balancing green and brown compost materials.

If you’re unable to compost at home, consider using a composting service. In St. Pete, we have Suncoast Compost. It provides composting bins for you to collect food scraps in. You can have the scraps collected weekly or drop them off for a small fee. In return, you get back finished composting soil twice a year. Cue the “Circle of Life” song.

If composting doesn’t work for you, consider donating your old coffee grounds to serve the community like Bandit Coffee does. It works with the Edible Peace Patch, an educational program at elementary schools that uses old coffee grounds to teach kids about composting and how to start and maintain a garden.

With resources like this, you have no reason to throw away coffee grounds again. We always knew drinking coffee would pay off.

Stephanie Bolling is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s a cafe con leche kind of lady.