How to reuse coffee grounds: Myths and Truths

Coffee is so amazing that not only can we enjoy a delicious beverage, but we can also reuse coffee grounds. Instead of throwing them away, try reusing them, as they have many beneficial uses.

I’ll give you some creative ideas to give them a second chance, from beauty care for the body to use as fertilizer in the garden. But I will also debunk some of the uses wrongly attributed to them.

1. Absorbs bad odors with coffee grounds

Coffee grounds are very porous and can absorb and neutralize bad odors. In addition, they contain natural chemicals such as caffeine and phenolic acids, which act as natural deodorants that help eliminate odors.

➡️ To achieve this, you can use different methods:

  1. Find a container that will serve as a decoration and place a layer of coffee grounds inside. It can be a small glass jar for desserts like the one in the photo below or any other with a wide and exposed surface.
  2. You can also place the coffee in old socks to make a sachet, so you can hide it wherever you want.

Note: ¿Did you know that the simple smell of coffee improves your cognitive abilities? So placing a container in your office will make you more awake.

Use of coffee grounds to eliminate bad odors
Use of coffee grounds to eliminate bad odors

2. Treating old and damaged wooden furniture

If you have wooden furniture with scratches, you can use coffee grounds to restore it. This is achieved thanks to the intrinsic ability to stain dark brown.

➡️ To do this, mix the coffee grounds with warm water or olive oil until you obtain a creamy paste. Then apply the mixture with a small brush and rub it all over the affected area. Leave the mixture on for several minutes for the best results.

Remember that the stain you will get will be lighter than the color of the coffee you use. In addition, the wood will absorb the mixture in a non-uniform way, so there may be darker and lighter areas. Therefore, it is ideal for giving an aged appearance to the wood.

3. Dyeing fabrics

If you are looking for a way to obtain a brown color in your fabrics in a natural way, the leftovers can help you. As with wood, coffee’s ability to pigment brown can be used on fabrics.

➡️ Simply boil water with the coffee grounds and soak the fabrics in the mixture. In addition, this same dye can be used to paint on canvas or paper, offering a natural alternative for creating works of art.

4. Strong, shiny, and dyed hair

Continuing with the pigmentation properties of coffee, we can take advantage of them to give color and shine to our hair, all this naturally. But remember that coffee dyes brown and NOT black.

➡️ After letting them cool, apply them directly on your hair for 20 minutes for the desired results. You can add them to your shampoo or conditioner and use them daily in your grooming routine.

Note: While this is a healthy alternative to the chemical dyes your hair is exposed to, the results are more unpredictable regarding color. Depending on the roast of the coffee, your hair will look lighter or darker brown.

5. Keeping ants and slugs away

Coffee grounds are an effective and natural solution to repel ants from your home.

➡️ place them in the affected areas without using any other chemical products. In addition, dried coffee grounds can also be sprinkled around the edges of your vegetable garden to repel slugs, providing an ecological alternative for the care of your plants.

6. Treat cellulite 

A natural and effective way to treat cellulite is to mix leftover coffee grounds with brown sugar and coconut oil. With this simple mixture, you can create an anti-cellulite treatment at home.

➡️ Massage the affected areas with circular movements, pressing gently from bottom to top to improve blood circulation. This natural alternative can help you reduce cellulite and improve your skin’s appearance.

7. Body scrub

Coffee grounds combined with olive oil can be the natural solution for exfoliating skin.

➡️ To obtain a fluid mixture, mix the coffee grounds with olive oil. Once you have obtained the desired consistency, you can apply it to the skin by gently massaging it in circular motions on your face and body.

The results will be visible immediately: clean and well-nourished skin. This natural exfoliant will help you improve your skin’s appearance and texture without resorting to chemical products.

8. Foot bath

Coffee grounds can benefit the feet due to their exfoliating, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties, which could help treat common foot problems, such as inflammation and athlete’s foot.

➡️Frota the coffee grounds on your feet to remove dead skin cells, leaving them softer and cleaner. You can dilute the grounds with warm water and let your feet soak for 20 to 30 minutes.

❌ Myths about the use of coffee grounds

1. Fertilize flowers and garden

In a report published on the U.S. Department of Agriculture website and a research from the University of Melbourne (Australia) found that direct application of spent coffee grounds to urban agricultural soils reduces plant growth.

The study showed poor growth in horticultural plants, such as leek, radish, viola, sunflower, and broccoli, in coffee-amended soil treatments compared to control and fertilizer-amended soil treatments.

The research suggested two possible explanations for this: nitrogen drawdown by microorganisms in the soil and the plant’s toxic stress response when the spent coffee grounds are introduced to the soil.

  • The study recommends composting coffee before application to extract good elements and decompose toxic components harmful to the plants.
  • The study advises against adding fresh, uncomposted coffee to gardens and crops at a volume quantity rate of 2.5% and higher, as it will likely decrease all plant growth and development.

✔️ However, the report recommends using spent coffee grounds as mulch over any field or garden lying fallow for six months, reducing weed growth and giving the coffee grounds time to detox.

➡️ The study suggests that adding coffee grounds at no more than 20% to compost will allow the microbes involved in composting time to decompose any toxic components harmful to the plants and extract any good elements from the coffee grounds.

Note: The study did not cover all plants; as with life, there are always exceptions.

2. Cleaning washable household objects and surfaces

It is said that coffee grounds can remove stubborn stains from different kitchen utensils, such as coffee pots, pans, pots, and even the oven.

➡️ It is said that to clean these surfaces, you need to moisten the coffee grounds with water, place them on the surface you want to clean, and rub it with a sponge. Simple, isn’t it?

❌ Choose your favorite pan to apply coffee, and moisten it before rubbing it with a sponge. You’ll notice that no matter how hard you scrub, the stains do NOT disappear. Also, this task is usually done in the sink, so you risk clogging it with the ground.

✔️ Acquire a good specific degreaser, and do not complicate yourself rubbing with coffee grounds.

3. Polishing steel surfaces

Coffee is also said to be perfect for polishing due to its texture and natural acidity. Coffee grounds are mild abrasive that can remove stubborn dirt and stains from surfaces without scratching them.

➡️ The way to apply it is similar to the previous one, and in theory, it can polish surfaces somewhat since you are rubbing a soft material (the coffee grounds) against a hard one (the steel surface).

❌ As I told you in the previous section, I invite you to try rubbing coffee grounds on a steel surface. You will have to spend hours rubbing to achieve any results.

✔️ If you want to polish steel surfaces, I recommend purchasing a specific polisher. Nowadays, they are manufactured in an environmentally friendly and very effective way.

Coffee grounds for polishing or cleaning steel surfaces
Coffee grounds for polishing or cleaning steel surfaces