Before you drop that used coffee filter in the trash, pause to consider how you might use those coffee grounds. The same goes for when you use a French press and are about to flush the grounds down the sink.
UPDATE: We now have 7 uses, not just 5. Readers keep writing in with new ideas! Keep reading to find them all...
Here are the 7 ways you might want to consider using your used coffee grounds instead of throwing them out.
1. Add used coffee grounds to your compost
If you have a back yard and a compost bin or pile, it makes good sense to put your used coffee grounds there instead of in the trash. Everything, the filter included, is biodegradable.
Coffee is high in nitrogen, which stimulates growth in all your plants. It is also acidic, which makes it particularly good for plants such as azaleas, rhododendrons, and hydrangeas.
You can even use the coffee grinds to make a weak water mixture and then use that to water your indoor plants.
2. Repair scratches on your furniture
If you have pets or small children in your home, you probably also have wooden furniture that has been dinged or scratched, revealing the paler wood under the surface.
Mix some coffee grounds with a light oil, like olive oil, mix it well until it is quite dark, and then use a Q-Tip to rub the mixture into the dings and scratches.
3. Soak up odors in your fridge
Take some of your used coffee grounds, spread them out to dry on a plate or some waxed paper, and then, once dry, put them in a pot or jar in your fridge. The coffee grounds act in the same way as baking soda, absorbing any lingering smells and odors in the fridge.
(This is also why you shouldn’t store open bags of coffee in your fridge. The coffee absorbs the same odors and spoils your coffee!)
4. Dye your hair
This is the only one of these tips I haven't tried personally. So this idea comes to you courtesy of information I have found elsewhere.
Make about three jugs of coffee, pour them into a basin or sink and leave it to cool. Then wet your hair repeatedly with the coffee. As for the intensity of the result, you’ll have to experiment and find out!
5. Keep slugs off your plants and ants out of your house
The caffeine in coffee is a mild insecticide. Beyond that, slugs hate to cross it. So you can scatter the coffee grinds around the base of your plants and keep the slugs away. Of course, the coffee grounds also add biomass and nitrogen to the soil, so you win twice.
Used coffee grinds can also be used to keep ants out of your house. Find where the ants are coming in and then create a coffee ground barrier. It’s not 100% effective but it certainly makes a difference. At least, it has in our house.
6. Make your own face, hand and body scrub.
I know, I promised 5 uses, and here’s a 6th. But after publishing this page one of our readers - Ellen Schultz - wrote in with her own use for coffee grounds. Here’s what she said:
“After I've brewed my morning coffee I take a few tablespoons out and cool them down. I use the grounds to do a gentle face scrub. I sometimes use the grounds in the shower to do a body scrub. Use the grounds as often as your skin feels comfortable with them.
You can also use the grounds to do a nice hand scrub every few days, especially in colder climates where hands get rough and scruffy.”
7. Make coffee pucks to clean your garbage disposal unit.
OK, this is getting crazy. We now have 7 uses, not 5. Another reader - Jesse Cohen - wrote in and said he was going to make coffee pucks to clean his garbage disposal machine in the kitchen.
When I asked him to explain, he wrote:
"There was a recipe I found once that uses old coffee grounds, mixed with other agents, and placed in small muffin tins. The result is a hard-ish puck you drop into your kitchen sink garbage disposal. It's supposed to clean and sharpen the disposal blades, while filling your kitchen with a pleasant coffee smell."
In these posts I share my thoughts and opinions on various aspects of gourmet coffee – sometimes thoughtful, and sometimes more lighthearted. Find my posts here...