Handy home hacks: 10 money-saving uses for used coffee grounds

Around 75 per cent of Australian adults drink at least one cup of coffee daily, with 28 per cent of us consuming at least three cups daily. Luckily, coffee grounds have many uses after they’ve fulfilled their primary purpose of brewing that invigorating morning cup of joe. 

Whether you’re aiming to trim your expenses, reduce your environmental footprint or ignite your creativity, here are nine ways to repurpose used coffee grounds.

Exfoliate your body

Creating a coffee exfoliating scrub is simple and requires just a few ingredients. Simply mix 1/2 cup of used coffee grounds with 1/4 cup of oil. Common choices include olive oil, coconut oil or sweet almond oil. 

Add 1/4 cup of brown sugar and mix until it forms a paste. You can enhance your scrub with various optional ingredients, depending on your preferences and skin type. Some people like to include essential oils or honey.

Once it’s mixed, use it gently over wet skin in the shower before washing off with warm water. 

Exfoliate your scalp

Exfoliating your scalp can contribute to healthier hair and overall scalp health, it also feels really nice. 

Make a scalp exfoliator by mixing three tablespoons of used coffee grounds with one tablespoon of natural oil such as olive oil, almond oil or coconut oil. After shampooing, use circular motions to massage the mixture on your scalp and then rinse with warm water. Finish the wash with your regular conditioner.

Although it’s safe to massage your scalp every day, you shouldn’t exfoliate your scalp more than once or twice a week. Exfoliation removes oil from the scalp, and more frequent exfoliation may cause the scalp to panic and overproduce oil.

You should avoid exposing your scalp to sunlight directly after exfoliating. If you need to go out in the sun, make sure you wear a hat or spray a SPF formulated for your scalp and hair.

Fertilise your garden

Your garden deserves a caffeine boost too! Used coffee grounds are rich in vitamins and minerals key for plant growth; including magnesium, calcium, potassium, nitrogen and iron. They also attract worms, helping to improve soil nutrient levels. 

Simply sprinkle your used coffee grounds around the base of your plants or mix them into the soil to give your greens a nutrient boost. Not only will this save you money on commercial fertilisers, but it’ll also help reduce waste in your home.

Make compost

If you’re an avid gardener, coffee grounds are a valuable addition to your compost pile. They introduce essential nitrogen and organic matter into your compost, helping it break down more efficiently. This means you’ll have nutrient-rich compost for your garden without having to spend extra money.

Grow mushrooms

Coffee grounds work particularly well for growing certain types of mushrooms such as oyster mushrooms and shiitake mushrooms. 

You’ll need mushroom spawn, which can be purchased online or from specialty mushroom suppliers. Spawn is essentially the mushroom’s seed and is typically sold on a substrate such as a grain. In your mushroom container, mix the coffee grounds with the mushroom spawn. The ratio should be roughly one part spawn to four parts coffee grounds. Mix thoroughly to ensure even distribution of the spawn.

Growing mushrooms can be a rewarding and sustainable hobby, but it does require careful attention to cleanliness and environmental conditions to prevent contamination.

Repel pests

Certain compounds found in coffee, such as caffeine and diterpenes, can be highly toxic to insects. This means it works well as a free pest repellent when spread in your garden to deter slugs, snails and fruit flies.

To use coffee grounds as an insect and pest repellent, simply set out bowls of grounds or sprinkle them around outdoor seating areas. Coffee grounds can also act as a protective shield for your plants, just scatter the grounds to create a barrier around them.

Odour neutraliser

Coffee grounds have properties that act as a natural air freshener, eliminating odours and gases. Place a small container filled with coffee grounds in the back of your fridge to absorb and neutralise the natural odour from spoiled produce.

Abrasive cleaning scrub

Their abrasive texture makes coffee grounds ideal for tackling stubborn stains and grease buildup in your kitchen or bathroom. Mix them with a bit of soap to create a cleaning scrub and simply rub the grounds onto pots, pans, utensils or your sink before wiping thoroughly with a damp cloth. 

Clean your fireplace

Cleaning ashes from a wood-burning fireplace can be an incredibly messy task. Scattering used coffee grounds over the ashes will weigh them down and prevent smoke clouds from forming.

This not only makes the ashes easier to remove, but it also keeps dust from escaping and travelling to other parts of the room.

Tenderise meat

Muscle fibres and proteins in some cuts of meat can make it tough. Tenderising meat makes it softer and easier to eat. Salt, enzymes and acids are three natural types of meat tenderisers. Coffee contains natural acids and enzymes, making it especially effective at tenderising meat.

Mix used coffee grounds into your favourite spice blend. Rub it all over the meat at least two hours before cooking. The coffee will cook onto the meat, creating a flavourful, crispy crust. Alternatively, you can rebrew used grounds to make coffee, allow it to cool and use it to marinade meat in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before cooking.

What do you do with your coffee grounds? Do you repurpose them or do they get thrown away? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: Could leftover tea and coffee feed your plants?

Ellie Baxter
Ellie Baxter
Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.


  1. Coffee grounds are great for acid loving plants. Just sprinkle the grounds on top of the soil and let nature do its thing. They are particularly good for blueberry bushes to keep the soil at the right acid level.
    Definitely add them to your compost pile too.

    • It’s true that coffee grounds can be used in many ways as shown in this article. However, rats are particularly fond of coffee ground and if using them on the garden make sure they are mixed in with the soil well.. Like us coffee seems to give them a lift.
      Also would not suggest to leave them out open around the house.

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