1. Use old coffee grounds to keep ants, snails and slugs away. Spread used coffee grounds on anthills or any place where ants might be entering your house. Toss a handful of coffee grounds in your yard and garden to keep slugs and snails away from your plants.

2. Old coffee grounds have been found by farmers to produce some of the biggest melons, tomatoes and carrots. Coffee grounds add minerals, vitamins and nitrogen to the soil so that the vegetables are stockier and less prone to insect infestation.

3. The next time you go to shovel the ashes from your fireplace try sprinkling used wet coffee grounds on top of them first. The wet grounds will settle down any dust from the ashes and make them easier to scoop up.

4. Sometimes its hard to keep cats from tromping through your garden or using your yard as a bathroom. Spread around a few orange peels and a handful of coffee grounds to solve that problem.

5. Brunettes can benefit from rinsing their hair in coffee. Darker redheads can also use coffee to rejuvenate the color of their hair. Steep the days used coffee grounds in 2 cups hot water for 15 minutes or so and then rinse through hair for a darker, more vibrant shine.

6. Coffee grounds are great for making homemade play dough. Mix a bunch of old used coffee grounds with ½ cup of salt, 1 ½ cups of cornmeal and add enough water to moisten it into a dough. You decide how sticky and wet you want your play dough.

Recycling Coffee Grounds

by Don Janssen, Extension Educator

With so many coffee houses around, there is interest in recycling used coffee grounds to divert them from the landfill. And being a plant product, a frequent question is whether coffee grounds are useful for gardening.

Coffee grounds are a low-level source of nitrogen, having a fertilizer value of around 2.0 N-0.3 P-0.2 K, as well as a minor source of calcium and magnesium. Post-brewed coffee grounds are reported to be slightly to highly acidic, depending on the source, but no more so than peat moss. So, you could apply them to the soil for acid-loving plants, such as rhododendrons, azaleas and blueberries. They might even help keep your bigleaf hydrangeas blue. Or, you could spread them out over a larger garden area to minimize the pH effect. It's difficult to make a specific recommendation for an application rate, but it's always better to err on the lighter side, since the pH can be variable. A rate of 10 pounds (dry weight) per 1000 square feet would be conservative.

Composting is an excellent method to recycle the grounds. They have a carbon-to-nitrogen ratio of around 20:1. Use the grounds as you would green, leafy material, mixing with some dry, brown plant materials in the compost. The Environmental Protection Agency suggests adding no more than 25 percent coffee grounds by volume. Vermicomposters can use coffee grounds but be sure to mix the grounds with dry brown materials before adding them to the bin.

Because of the fine grind that is typically used for brewing, the grounds should not be used as mulch since they are likely to pack down tightly, decreasing aeration. Also avoid using coffee grounds with potted houseplants, because of the potential buildup of soluble salts.

(This resource was added February 2007 and appeared in the Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper Sunday edition. For information on reproducing this article or using any photographs or graphics, read the Terms of Use statement)



To remove bugs and tar from your vehicle, use a soft cloth and work up a lather with your regular washing solution. Add a tablespoon of coffee grounds to the cloth and use that to scrub the gunk off.

Dry coffee grounds can be burned in a charcoal pit to help heat it up. It burns hotter than charcoal, so be prepared to watch food more closely if you use it.

Coffee grounds make a very good addition to a compost pile or to work right into the top inch or so of soil in the garden and leave them there to compost.

If you leave them in a heap on top of the ground, they'll discourage mites and small bugs from attacking your plants. They'll also provide a slow release of nitrogen and, if spread thickly enough, keep down weeds and keep moisture in the soil.

Used coffee grounds are said to be especially effective against ants of all kinds, even fire ants. It's also said that if you put a ring of coffee grounds around a tree or plant, it will keep ants away from them.

If you have a worm bed, or if you'd like to encourage worms in your garden, coffee grounds are a great addition. If you have to transport worms, keep them happy in a container of moist coffee grounds.


Spread used coffee grounds on a cookie sheet to dry, then tie them up in a pantyhose leg or something similar and hang them in the closet to absorb odors, or push it under your car seat to rid your car of unpleasant odors.

They make a good, gentle abrasive for cleaning gunky things like ovens and grills, stinky ash trays, greasy pans and so on. Mix just a little dish detergent and scrub away.

Deodorize your hands while cooking by gently scrubbing them with used coffee grounds. Keep a shaker container filled with dried, used grounds within easy reach.

Personal Use

Got gray? Wash it away! Steep a day's worth of coffee grounds in a cup of hot water for 15 minutes or so, then strain and use it as a hair rinse to cover gray hair.

Fill a muslin bag with used grounds and use as an all over scrub in the shower. It's a gentle exfoliator and deodorizer in one. It works for your face, too. Just scrub gently and rinse with warm water.

If you need a toning and firming facial, mix a quarter cup of grounds with an egg white and massage it into you skin. Leave it until it dries, then rinse. Follow with a moisturizer.

What to do with those used coffee grounds

A Disclaimer:

These are just some ideas we found.

We have not tested these on ourselves, our gardens, mice or rabbits.