Can You Reuse Coffee Grounds? 7 Awesome Ways You Can

used coffee grounds in an espresso portafilter

Most used coffee grounds go straight in the trash. 

Here’s the thing, though:

It’s kind of a waste. 

See, there’s actually a lot that you can still do with them. 

But whatever you do, just don’t use them to brew more coffee. Ever.

So, how can you reuse coffee grounds then?

In this article, we’ll take a look at a bunch of ways you can use them in the garden, around the house, and even as cosmetics. 

Plus, you’ll learn all about why brewing coffee with used grounds is a big no-no.

Ready to find out how you can get the most out of your coffee grounds?

Let’s get started!

Can You Reuse Coffee Grounds To Brew More Coffee?

man at an office desk looking into a cup of coffee disgustedly

No.

Well, OK – so technically you can, but you definitely shouldn’t under any circumstances.

Why not?

First off, it’ll taste terrible. I mean, really terrible.

Weak, watery, bitter, and just plain disgusting – to be precise.

And this will be apparent as soon as you take a look at it. The liquid you end up with will look more like dirty water from a muddy puddle than a cup of coffee. And this is a pretty accurate reflection on the way it tastes, too.

See, the art of brewing coffee is all about getting that perfect extraction. This can be tricky, even when you’re brewing coffee from fresh ground beans. You need to pay attention to a few factors, including the coffee grind size, extraction time, and water temperature.

With used coffee grounds, getting a good brew isn’t tricky – it’s plain impossible. Coffee has already been extracted from the grounds, so trying to extract it again can’t end well.

But the horrendous taste and appearance isn’t the only reason you should avoid brewing coffee from used grounds. It could actually pose a threat to your health, too.

If the grounds have been sitting out for a while, there’s a good chance they’ve started to grow bacteria and fungi. So, you could be ingesting more than just terrible tasting coffee.

Moral of the story – don’t use old coffee grounds to brew coffee. Just don’t. 

7 Brilliant Ways To Reuse Coffee Grounds

So, you can’t brew coffee with your used grounds.

But what can you do with them?

Plenty!

From your veggie garden, to inside your home, to all over your body – used coffee grounds can be used for a wide range of purposes.

Here are a few great ideas to get you feeling inspired:

Use Them In The Garden

used coffee grounds being used on plants

There are actually a few different ways that used coffee grounds can come in handy in the garden.

First of all, they make a great addition to your compost heap.

You can throw them in your worm farm, too. (Yeah, that’s a thing.) If you happen to be into vermiculture, you probably already know that worms can’t get enough of the stuff. 

Another thing you can do is scatter them over the roots of acid loving plants. The minerals and acidity can do wonders for your veggies, flowers, and trees alike.

However, you need to keep a few things in mind when doing this, because it can do more harm than good if you’re not careful.

The trick is to use them as fertilizer, rather than mulch. Scattering them across the soil and raking them in is the best way to go.

If you apply too thick a layer of used grounds on your soil, you risk them clumping together. When that happens, water can’t make its way through, and your plants will end up dehydrating.

Coffee grounds can still be used as mulch, just not on their own. Mixing them in with your compost and using that is a much better option. 

You also want to avoid sprinkling grounds over seeds and seedlings. This can inhibit germination, and stop them from growing.

And, finally, old coffee grounds are great at repelling pests like slugs, rabbits, and cats. Just sprinkle some over your garden, and you won’t get as many critters munching away at your produce. 

Get Rid Of Unpleasant Odors

Another thing used coffee grounds are great for is getting rid of unpleasant smells.

Whether it’s in your fridge, your kitchen cupboard, or your wardrobe – your used grounds can absorb any funky smells that might be lingering around.

All you have to do is dry the grounds out, and wrap them up in a cheesecloth or some pantyhose. Throw them in the fridge/cupboard/wardrobe/whatever and leave them in there for a few days, or until the smell is gone.

This works a treat for smelly sneakers, too! 

Just sprinkle some dry coffee grounds in your shoes and leave them there overnight. Be careful if your shoes are white, though, because the coffee grounds might stain them.

And if you’ve been cutting up onions and garlic and your fingers smell like you’re heading into a battle with Count Dracula – old coffee grounds will save the day. 

Just rub some used grounds between your hands while you’re washing them, and the smell will disappear like magic. 

Scrub Your Dirty Pots & Pans

person washing a metal cooking pot

You know how sometimes your pots and pans get so dirty that it seems like you’ll never get them clean again?

Well, scrubbing them with dried out used coffee grounds is definitely worth a shot.

Coffee grounds are abrasive, so they can scrape the dirt off stubborn spots really effectively. 

But there’s another reason they’re so effective, and that’s the acidity. Your dirty dishes are no match for the coffee grounds’ acid in combination with their abrasiveness.

That being said, some coffee grounds are a lot less acidic than others, so certain types of coffee bean will probably do a better job than others.

One thing to keep in mind is that you should only ever use coffee grounds to scrub pots and pans that can’t be damaged by abrasives. Nonstick pans and pots with glossy surfaces, for instance, are likely to be completely ruined if you scrub them with anything abrasive.

As a rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t scrub it with steel wool, don’t scrub it with coffee grounds.

Rub Them On Your Meat

You’ve probably heard of a coffee rub. Adding ground coffee to a meat rub is a great way to tenderize the meat, while also enhancing the flavors in a unique way.

But did you know that you can make one using spent coffee grounds?

As it turns out, you can – and it works fantastically.

Just mix them into any dry rub and you’re good to go. 

Rub your meat in the mixture a couple of hours before you cook it. You want to give the enzymes and acid from the coffee grounds time to break down the muscle fibers and proteins. 

Then, when you cook your meat it’ll be lovely and soft. Because let’s face it – there’s nothing worse than a tough piece of meat.

And the best part is that it tastes absolutely delicious. The coffee ground rub creates a mouthwatering crust that complements the flavors of the meat beautifully.

Relax In A Coffee Bath

a full bath tub with epsom salts and soaps next to it

So get this – 

There’s actually still some caffeine left over in your coffee grounds after you’ve brewed your cup of joe. And that caffeine can do wonders for your body if you bathe in it.

To do this, you’ll need to pack your coffee in some kind of porous cloth, like a cheesecloth or a nut milk bag. Then, just pop it in your bath and hop on in. 

I like to throw some epsom salts in there as well, because they help relax your muscles, relieving aches and pains throughout your body.

The caffeine from the grounds can actually help repair damaged cells. And it can even reduce the appearance of cellulite by boosting circulation and dehydrating fat cells.

Keep in mind that some of the caffeine will be absorbed into your system through your skin. So, you might want to think twice before taking a coffee bath late at night.

In the morning, however, it can serve as a wonderful energy kick to get you going.

Note: If you’re using espresso grounds, you can skip the cloth and throw them straight in. 

Coarser grinds (like those used for French press, or cold brew coffee) will scratch your skin, and you won’t have a very comfortable bath. But espresso grounds are fine enough, and you can even rub them against your skin to exfoliate while you relax in the tub.

Exfoliate & Rejuvenate Your Skin

One of my favorite ways of reusing coffee grounds is by making a nice homemade coffee body scrub. You can use it to exfoliate your entire body, including your face. 

It’s best to use finely ground coffee beans. If the grounds are too coarse, the scrub could end up being too harsh on your skin. This is especially true if your skin is sensitive. 

First, spread the grounds out on a sheet pan until they’re completely dry. Then just mix them with roughly the same amount of brown sugar and organic refined coconut oil. 

If you suffer from acne, sub the coconut oil for 2 tablespoons of honey and 2 tablespoons of avocado oil. 

Scrub yourself from top to toe, but avoid applying it too close to your eyes. 

Instead, apply the used coffee grounds on their own under your eyes, and leave them on until they dry before rinsing them off. This will help reduce puffiness and dark circles around your eyes, thanks to the caffeine content of the grounds.

Warning: Coffee ground scrub can and will clog your pipes

If you use a coffee scrub, you should always rinse it off in a bucket or plugged tub, and filter out all the grounds before dumping the water down any drain. Otherwise, you’ll be looking at a serious plumbing emergency sooner or later, and it won’t be pretty.

Use Them As A Natural Fabric Dye

fabric dyed with coffee

Used coffee grounds make a fabulous fabric dye. 

Here’s how you do it:

  • Submerge a white or light colored top, dress, tablecloth, or anything else you want to dye in a pot of water
  • Throw in your used coffee grounds, give it a good stir, and bring the pot to a boil
  • Then, take it off the heat and let it sit for half an hour or so before you take the fabric out

And there you have it!

You end up with a really nice, subtle sepia tone.

I like to use this method to do tie dye tops, and they always turn out really cool. You just follow the steps above, but tie a few rubber bands around your top before you begin. 

The way you scrunch the shirt up before tying the bands will determine the tie dye pattern you get. So you can (and definitely should) play around and experiment to get different results.

The Bottom Line

Can you reuse coffee grounds?

Sure, just not to make more coffee. Reusing coffee grounds to brew coffee will result in what will likely be the worst cup you’ve ever had in your life – and it might even make you sick.

Instead, use your spent grounds to: 

  • Fertilize your garden
  • Repel pests
  • Eliminate odors around the house
  • Scrub your dishes
  • Scrub your skin
  • Soak your body
  • Tenderize your meat
  • Dye your clothes

Now, if that isn’t versatility, I don’t know what is. 

Makes you think twice about ditching your used coffee grounds, doesn’t it?