Grounds for Success
Every time you dump your used grounds into the nearest trash can, you’re adding to the millions of tons of coffee waste that piles up in landfills around the world each year. Do your part for the planet—and feel better about your habit—by keeping those grounds out of the waste stream and putting them to productive use. If you’re hooked on K-cups, take the time to collect the spent cartridges, cut them open, and empty out the grounds for use around the house. Then, with your conscience clear, sit down to savor a steaming, aromatic mug of magic.
1. Enrich Your Compost Pile
Coffee grounds are chock-full of nitrogen, which helps speed decomposition by feeding the microorganisms that break down the biological material in the compost bin. Coffee grounds also contain other trace nutrients, including potassium and magnesium. Just pour in the grounds, mix, and be on your way.
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2. Attract Worms
Everyone knows that worms are great for the lawn and garden, but what you may not know is that worms are attracted to coffee grounds. The grounds are gritty, and worms need that grit to aid in their digestive process. And if you are using worms as fishing bait, mixing coffee grounds into the soil in the bait box will help keep the worms fresh and wriggling all day long.
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3. Repel Slugs and Snails
The same gritty texture that attracts worms to coffee grounds acts as a natural repellent to slugs, snails, ants, and other insects that can’t stand coffee’s acidity. Sprinkling coffee grounds on the soil around sensitive plants or mounding up a ring of coffee grounds a few inches out from the base of those plants will keep these pests away.
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4. Fertilize Flowers
Coffee grounds are slightly acidic and therefore can be a great natural fertilizer for roses, azaleas, evergreens, rhododendrons, blueberry bushes, camellias, and hydrangeas. Adding coffee grounds to the soil around hydrangeas can produce vibrant blue blossoms because the extra acidity helps the flowers absorb aluminum, leading to a deep blue hue.
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5. Scat, Cat!
You may love the neighborhood kitties, but it's kind of gross when they use your garden as a litter box. Sprinkle some coffee grounds around your flower and vegetable garden beds to encourage cats to go somewhere else. You can also place coffee grounds around your indoor houseplants to deter kitty from snacking on the leaves.
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6. Freshen the Fireplace
Before you clean out your fireplace, sprinkle the ashes with damp coffee grounds to minimize flyaway dust and debris. When cleaning the hearth at the end of the season, sprinkle a layer of dried coffee grounds along the back and sides and leave them there to eliminate any leftover smoke odors.
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7. Sweeten Smelly Hands
Keep a small cup of coffee grounds near your kitchen sink and use them to scrub your hands after cooking with garlic, onions, fish, or other stinky foods. The grounds will absorb the odor and also help exfoliate the skin.
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8. Natural Deodorizer
Use dried coffee grounds as a natural deodorizer for the refrigerator, freezer, closets, or car. Dry a batch of coffee grounds, and then place the grounds in an open container to absorb odors in the fridge or freezer. For closets and cars, place dried grounds in a piece of cheesecloth or a section of old pantyhose; tie off the ends and then hang.
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9. Fix Scratches
Use coffee grounds to minimize scratches and scuffs on dark wood furniture. Start by placing some damp coffee grounds on the scratch, then work them in with a cotton swab. Let the grounds sit for 5 to 10 minutes, then buff with a clean, soft cloth. You may need several applications, depending on the darkness of the finish. You can also rub coffee grounds on light wood furniture to create a weathered or antique appearance.
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10. Dye It!
The tannins in coffee grounds make them effective for dyeing Easter eggs, fabric, or paper. Mix grounds with a little bit of water to create a slurry, and then dip the objects to be dyed into the mix. The longer you leave an item in the mixture, the darker the shade of brown you'll obtain. To create a streaky, antiqued look on fabric or paper, rub the grounds into the material.
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11. Produce a Nonskid Surface
Salt is a commonly used deicing solution for winter walkways and driveways, but it can also damage sensitive plants and over time can even wear away cement or asphalt surfaces. Coffee grounds are a great alternative for making sidewalks and driveways less slippery; the acid in the grounds also helps melt the ice.
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12. Clean Outdoor Tools and Pots
Because caffeine has antifungal and antimicrobial properties, coffee grounds are great for cleaning plant containers and gardening tools. And because the grounds are slightly abrasive, they’re also effective at eliminating caked-on mud. Just sprinkle the tool or container with used grounds (or make a paste of coffee grounds and water), then scrub with a rag or stiff brush. Rinse and dry the tool or pot, then let it sit in the sun before you put it away.
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13. Keep Cut Flowers Fresh
Stir a tablespoon or so of coffee grounds into the water before arranging fresh-cut flowers in a vase. The nitrogen in the coffee will provide nourishment for the flowers, and the grounds can inhibit the growth of microbes that slow the flowers’ ability to take up water. Replace the water every few days.
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14. Improve Your Soil
Amending your garden soil with coffee grounds can improve its structure and enhance its nutrient content, allowing it to release nitrogen slowly over time. This strategy is best for acid-loving plants like azaleas, camellias, and hydrangeas. Be careful, though: Caffeine has been shown to stunt root growth and suppress germination, so use coffee grounds sparingly or use decaf-coffee grounds.
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