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Something’s brewing with old coffee grounds

By on May 9, 2008

photo by Jonny Hunter
coffee grounds
Coffee drinkers unite! It’s time to get green and frugal with your coffee grounds. Don’t home brew? Starbucks is on board with a program that provides free grounds for customers to use in their gardens. Establishments, family and friends can provide them, too.

According to J. Trent of the University of Nevada, Reno, newsroom, Manoranjan Misra, a professor at the university, has developed a process to extract biodiesel from used coffee grounds. While we wait for them to be used as an alternative fuel, here are a few ways you can reuse your grounds.

PIN CUSHION: Make your own pin cushion with a teacup filled with used, dried coffee grounds. Cover and glue fabric onto the teacup and edge with ribbon or lace.

BREW TWICE: Add a scoop or two of fresh grounds to your used grounds and rebrew a second pot of coffee. Not strong enough? Combine with cocoa for a mochalicious treat.

Combine spent coffee grounds with melted leftover candle wax. Shape into a ball and place into newspaper tied with raffia for home use or tissue paper for gifts.

DEODORIZER: Don’t have a spare box of baking soda for fridge odor? Use your coffee grounds instead. Place them into a small container with a lid that has small holes poked in it. Bonus points for reusing a container from items such as cottage cheese, margarine, whipped topping or yogurt. The grounds will deodorize your microwave, too. Simply place them on a plate, close the door and zap for one minute. I use them in the microwave after nuking hot dogs. They’re good for preventing freezer odors, too.

CLEANER: I’ve mentioned before using them to scrub and wash your hands, but you can use them to exfoliate your face, knees, elbows and feet. Use them to scrub pans and counters, too. To keep the grounds out of your drains, put dried grounds into a spare section of pantyhose and tie it off. Add some dish liquid and scrub away. Work quickly to prevent staining.

NO-SLIP WALKWAYS: During winter, scatter coffee grounds instead of salt on sidewalks and steps.

INSECT CONTROL: Sprinkle around the exterior of your home to deter ants. No need for poison.

SWEEP HELPER: Spring cleaning often involves cleaning seasonal porches, fireplaces and garages. Scatter coffee grounds to limit the dust.

KIDS’ CRAFTS: Mix 1 cup used, dried coffee grounds with 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup salt and 1/4 cup sand. Slowly add up to 3/4 cup water until you have a mixture the consistency of bread dough. Form a chunk of dough around a “treasure” — small toys, cool stones, etc. It looks like a brown rock if you let it dry for two to three days. Kids have a blast breaking them open to find the treasures. Odilia in Nebraska shared this activity, and I’ve tried it. Make sure that the ball has dried and hardened thoroughly; otherwise, it peels rather than breaks.

BAIT-BOX BOOST: Say that three times fast. Add some coffee grounds to the soil in your bait box to keep those little guys happy and wiggling.


  1. phyllis

    7/3/2009 at 4:15 pm

    Can you use old coffee grounds and cooled coffee on roses?

  2. Raquel Bunn

    10/5/2010 at 12:24 pm

    Seriously, I love these ideas and I will try them. Actually, I just did the thing for detering ants; sprinkled along the inside of my front door where they were entering…and it worked! Thank you!

    • David Dohrmann

      4/28/2011 at 5:10 pm

      Raquel , I’ve also used this idea of coffee grounds at my door for ants . I took it a step further . I made a little sign that says Starbucks – now they stand in line & pay me $3.75 per serving . True story !

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