10 Hacks for Leftover Coffee Grounds

Male hand holding coffee grounds in a filtered coffee basket

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If you're a daily coffee drinker—by the potful or one K-cup at a time—you have leftover coffee grounds. Beyond tossing them in the trash can, there are some pretty amazing ways to put them to good use in the kitchen, garden, closet, for crafts, and even in your beauty routine.

Since coffee grounds are wet after brewing the coffee, you may need to spread them on a baking sheet to dry before using them for some of these hacks. The one place you should never put coffee grounds is down the kitchen sink or garbage disposal. Soggy grounds are heavy and can clog a sink very quickly. Check out these 10 hacks for using coffee grounds instead.

  • 01 of 10

    Remove Onion and Garlic Odors From Your Hands

    Man and woman chopping onion and garlic

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    Grab about one teaspoon of fresh or used coffee grounds to remove odors from hands after chopping onion and garlic. Dampen your hands and rub well with the coffee grounds and then rinse.

  • 02 of 10

    Freshen the Fridge

    Spoonful of coffee grounds above a blue coffee can

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    If you love the smell of coffee, use coffee grounds instead of baking soda to absorb odors in the refrigerator. Start with fresh, unbrewed grounds or completely dry used grounds. Find a container with a plastic lid and punch a few holes. The lid will help prevent a mess if the container gets knocked over. Add the grounds and place the container on a shelf in the fridge. Replace every month for maximum freshness.

  • 03 of 10

    Boost Your Compost Pile

    Coffee grounds in vegetable compost pile

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    Coffee grounds are a great addition to your compost pile because they help boost the nitrogen component that is needed to break down plant matter. They also help prevent the growth of some molds.

    Once you have a nice, loamy pile of compost, add some earthworms for even quicker decomposition. They love the acidic quality of "coffee soil."

  • 04 of 10

    Deter Pests in the Garden

    Sprinkling coffee grounds around plants

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    Sprinkle coffee grounds around plants to keep away slugs, snails, and other insects. Some rabbits and cats even shy away from coffee grounds.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Boost Soil Acidity and Nitrogen

    Male hands spooning coffee grounds into potted plant

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    Just as garden plants can get a boost from coffee, so can potted plants. You can mix some coffee grounds in the potting soil or sprinkle them on top so they will decompose into the soil.

    Or, you can make "coffee fertilizer" for watering. Steep two cups of grounds in a five-gallon bucket of water for six to 12 hours. Use this liquid fertilizer to water and feed your plants. This mixture works best for acid-loving plants like African violets, ferns, and hydrangeas.

  • 06 of 10

    Hide Scratches on Wood

    Yellow pencil on scratched wood desk

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    If you have scratches on dark wood floors or furniture, mix one tablespoon of coffee grounds with one tablespoon of olive oil. Let the mixture sit for about an hour so the tannins in the grounds will leach into the oil. Use a cotton swab to apply the "dye" and then buff with a soft, dry cloth to hide the scratches. Repeat as needed.

    Tip

    Use fresh coffee grounds to achieve the darkest color.

  • 07 of 10

    Create Warm Brown Dyes for Crafts

    Brown egg on plate with coffee beans

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    Coffee produces a lovely warm brown dye that can be used to dye fabrics, yarn, or Easter eggs, or even create watercolor paint. The same component, tannin, that causes stains can also be used to create shades from ecru to dark brown.

    Most fabric dyed with coffee grounds is done by brewing the coffee to use as the dye bath. The darker the roasted beans, the darker the dye. If you plan ahead and want to do a large batch of dyeing, refrigerate or freeze grounds from your daily brewing until you have enough grounds for a large batch. Heat in boiling water, strain, and use the liquid for the dye bath.

    Another dyeing technique is to massage the coffee grounds into the fabric. Damp grounds will produce more color than very wet grounds. Make a paste of the grounds and smear it on the fabric. Allow the fabric to dry thoroughly with the grounds in place. Brush off the excess grounds when the fabric is completely dry.

  • 08 of 10

    Make Play Clay

    Hands with brown clay

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    Coffee grounds make great smelling and the perfect brown-colored clay for animal sculptures, mud and dirt for landscapes, or even fossils.

    Just add coffee grounds to your favorite play clay recipes. Here's an easy one:

    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup coffee grounds
    • 1 cup salt
    • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
    • 1 cup boiling water
    • 2 tablespoons oil

    Mix all of the ingredients well and allow the clay to sit for about an hour. If the color isn't as dark as you'd like, add one tablespoon of instant coffee. Knead well and always store in a tightly covered container.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Freshen Drawers and Closets

    Stack of three rust and tan sachets on rough wood table

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    Fill store-bought or homemade sachet bags with dry fresh or used coffee grounds to make air fresheners for closets and dresser drawers.

  • 10 of 10

    Scrub Away Rough Skin

    Woman spreading coffee grounds over legs as body scrub

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    Add coffee to a basic salt scrub recipe to gently scrub away rough skin. The caffeine will help brighten skin as well. To make the scrub, mix one and one-half cups coarse sea salt, one cup dry coffee grounds, and one cup coconut oil in a large bowl. Store the scrub in an air-tight jar.