If you’re a coffee drinker who consistently makes coffee at home, you might be generating a large amount of used and leftover coffee grounds after your morning latte, cappuccino, espresso beverage, or simple cup of coffee.
Rather than simply dumping your grounds into the trash where they will end up in a landfill, or down your kitchen sink drain which can lead to plumbing issues, consider opting for a more eco-friendly alternative.
Since coffee grounds won’t actually break down in a landfill, tossing coffee grounds in the trash leads to more earth pollution and waste accumulation.
Instead, you can dispose of your leftover grounds by turning your coffee grounds into fertilizer, using them as bug repellent, or even as an air freshener. To learn more about the best ways of disposing of and recycling coffee grounds, continue reading our in-depth guide below.
Turn Your Coffee Grounds Into Fertilizer
One of the best ways to dispose of coffee grounds is to turn your coffee grounds into a healthy and earth-conscious fertilizer alternative for your plants or garden. Since coffee is acidic and very high in nitrogen, it is the perfect fertilizer for stabilizing the pH of your plants’ soil.
Coffee grounds are also granular, making them easy to spread evenly throughout the soil and helping them reach the roots of your plants more efficiently. It can easily be dug into the soil or sprinkled sparsely on top of the soil in between plant rows to stimulate additional growth.
Since coffee is a natural, organic material that is safe for adults to consume, you can choose to handle it without gloves if you prefer.
This non-toxic substance will improve the ability of your plants to retain nutrients and supply additional nitrogen to plants that are lacking. It also smells like your favorite coffee shop and lets you avoid stinky and harmful fertilizer options. Who doesn’t love the smell of coffee?
Recycling coffee grounds in your garden, or even a compost pile, rather than in a landfill is an excellent alternative to throwing them away.
Make a Homemade Hair and Face Product
Coffee grounds are coarse and rugged, making them an excellent exfoliant. If you’re a beauty fanatic who is always keen to try the latest health-conscious and earth-friendly products, creating a homemade hair product from your leftover coffee grounds is a great option for you.
A homemade coffee body scrub can exfoliate and stimulate dry skin that needs a little extra love. You can also use those old coffee beans if you suffer from oily hair or dry and flakey ends. Cleansing your hair with coffee can help it feel fresh and reinvigorated. And, if your skin has impurities and residue build-up, why not try a coffee face mask?
To create a coffee ground hair or face mask, simply add a few drops of water or even micellar water to a clump of coffee grounds and lather on your face and hair. Leave it for about 10 minutes before continuing to gently rub, then wash away with warm water.
You will feel the effects of coffee grounds’ exfoliation right away. Your hair will be shinier and bouncier with more body and fullness, and you’ll have healthier skin that feels soft and looks vibrant for days.
Coffee grounds dye lighter colors, however, and can potentially make your hair a bit darker than its current color. If you have very light hair that you would not like to dye, consider using the loose coffee grounds as a face exfoliant only.
If you’re interested in dying your hair darker using the coffee grounds, follow these simple steps: lather it into your hair, leave the grounds in for at least an hour, wash them out, and repeat a second time. Your hair should then take on a slightly darker, coffee-colored tone.
This process is similar to coffee dying, tea-dying a shirt on the stove with hot water, or even dying your hair with henna paste.
While the results last a long time on those with fine, porous, absorbent, or light hair, the length of the effects of dying your hair with coffee waste is not guaranteed for everyone.
Turn Your Grounds Into Bug Repellent
Another excellent way to repurpose coffee grounds is by creating insect repellent. One of the benefits of coffee grounds is that they make a wonderful and effective natural bug repellent because of their acid levels.
Some bugs hate coffee so much that they avoid it altogether, and other bugs will consume it before quickly perishing.
To make your bug repellent out of used coffee grounds, you should:
- Gather fresh coffee grounds
- Transfer your coffee grounds into a jar
- Fill the jar a couple of inches with a layer of coffee grounds
- Line the jar with sticky tape or fly tape
- Leave the jar in an area that is populated with unwanted bugs
Additionally, you can sprinkle a line of coffee grounds around your garden so that snails, worms, and other destructive garden pests will leave your plants, flowers, and garden veggies alone.
Doing this will allow you to enjoy the seasonal fruits of your labor in the garden without coming across those unsightly insect holes.
Create a Natural Air Freshener
Suppose you have been wanting an air freshener to clear out the funky odors coming from your kitchen, bedroom, or bathroom. Lucky for you, coffee grounds are an excellent alternative to traditional chemical air fresheners.
Instead of being tossed in the landfill, you can use your used coffee grounds to remove unwanted odors because they soak up strong and pungent food odors like fish, onions, garlic, meats, and curry.
Due to their neutralizing quality, coffee grounds can also remove odd smells from sinks, garbage disposals, drain pipes, and even around indoor garbage or compost bins.
If you need to eliminate a foul odor from your home and have decided that you want to create your own coffee ground air freshener, you can do the following:
- Grab a clean ice tray and a small baggie with coffee grounds
- Pack the grounds with water into the ice cube tray
- Freeze the tray of grounds for from 5 hours to overnight
- Remove the coffee ground ice cubes and add a few to each smelly area
- If the area cannot get wet, simply place a handful in a small bowl nearby or on the kitchen counter
- Replace the grounds every couple weeks
If you notice your fridge doesn’t smell great, you can also put some coffee grounds wrapped in cheesecloth on one of your fridge shelves to neutralize the odors in the same way that a baking soda pack might do.
Add Your Coffee Grounds To the Compost
Composting your coffee grounds is one of the most traditional and genius ways to recycle used coffee grounds.
Whether you have your own backyard compost heap, send your compost off to a local, sustainably conscious farm, or compost with your city’s compost bin for reuse, composting can help put your grounds to good use after they leave your coffee pot.
One of the best reasons to compost your coffee grounds is because of their macrobiotic powers.
Coffee grounds help microorganisms in soil grow and help balance the compost’s pH with their high nitrogen content and acidity levels. These microorganisms work to speed up the composting process, which helps things regrow even quicker.
Try Some Coffee Ground Tie-Dying
If you have finished with your delicious brunch americano and are wondering what to do during a lazy weekend with your kids, consider trying some tie-dying using your used coffee grounds from the morning.
Instead of gathering a bunch of toxic and unnatural colors to spread all over your white t-shirts, grab a handful of coffee grounds and mix them with boiling water into a paste. Make sure not to add too much water, or you’ll create a mixture that is too thin and too similar to coffee.
Then, bunch up your white shirt with rubber bands and start dipping. The effect will turn out more light brown and beige than black or dark brown like coffee, but it will supply you with lovely subtle patterns that you’ll enjoy wearing time and time again.
Your kids will love this fun and easy activity, and better for you, it involves minimal clean-up. Meanwhile, you can also rest easy knowing that your family craft isn’t exposing them to artificial dyes, harsh smells, or toxic chemicals.
One of the best things about this form of coffee ground recycling is that tie-dying can be repeated every time you make your coffee at home.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Coffee grounds can have many uses, from exfoliating skin and dying hair to tie-dying t-shirts, feeding plants with essential nutrients, balancing the pH of the soil, and making bad smells disappear.
By disposing of your coffee grounds and reusing them for crafts, bug repellent, plant fertilizer, beauty products, and more, you are not only saving money but also being Earth-conscious with your choices.
Rather than dumping your used coffee grounds directly into the landfill, disposing of them through compost or crafty uses will help you get the most for your money while feeling good about it.