Call your coffee whatever you want…just don’t call your leftover coffee grounds trash.
Long after your K-cup has been used or your coffee carafe is empty, there’s still tons of life left in those dark, grainy coffee grounds. But 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 the hacks below.
Warning: 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.
For some great ways to put those grounds to use, check out the following 13 suggestions…
To help keep pests from the garden area, mix coffee grounds with orange peels and spread the mixture around the outside of your garden.
Prevent dog fleas
Bathe your dog as usual, rinse, scrub him or her down with coffee grounds, then rinse again.
Mulch for your yard
Toss your used coffee grounds onto the soil. The dark color absorbs heat from the sun, which helps the soil warm up and also adds nutrients to the soil as the grounds break down.
Clean the fireplace
Many fireplace owners swear by this: Sprinkle a layer of damp grounds over ashes (which helps weigh them down) before sweeping them up.
Mixing pills or liquids with coffee grounds will make it much less likely that a child or household pet will find and ingest the substance. (If the pills are large or brightly colored, crush them or dissolve them first before mixing them with coffee grounds.)
Sprinkle stained pots or grimy countertops with coffee grounds, then, using a cloth or steel wool (avoid using steel wool on wood), scrub off stuck-on food or stains.
Get rid of unwanted odors
Put an open container filled with coffee grounds in your refrigerator and then notice how unpleasant odors disappear.
In a bowl, mix 2 cups of coffee grounds, 1/2 cup raw sugar or sea salt and 2/3 tablespoons of massage oil. Rub in a circular motion on wet or damp skin in the shower.
Hair color booster
If you’re a brunette who absolutely cannot make it in to see your colorist, coffee grounds may enhance your color. Rub used grounds throughout your hair in between shampooing and conditioning. (Although many have raved about this apparent hack, I remain skeptical–even as a brunette, myself. I would highly recommend running this by a trusted hairdresser before attempting.)
Remove onion and garlic odors from your hands
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.
Freshen the fridge
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.
Hide scratches on wood
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.
Make play clay
Now, this tip will likely be a hit with little ones and artists, alike. According to lifestyle website The Spruce, coffee grounds make great smelling and the perfect brown-colored clay for animal sculptures, mud, and dirt for landscapes, or even fossils. Who knew?! Just add coffee grounds to your favorite play clay recipes, or use this easy one, which calls for coffee grounds as well as instant coffee:
*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.
And one last thing: Should you—or your child or grandchild—create a masterpiece that winds up on display in a museum or art show somewhere, be sure to let The Dispatch know.
Courtney Conover is wife, mom, and avid coffee lover who has called Wayne home since 1995. Since having tried coffee of the iced variety, she now prefers it over piping hot. Find her at courtneyconover.com.