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Many of us adore a cup of steaming, freshly brewed coffee – whether it’s Colombian, Italian, or Kenyan. And many people can’t function without several cups a day. But what do you do with the grounds? Chances are, you throw them away – but wait – there’s a whole bunch of ways you can use old coffee grounds!
Remember, if you’re aiming for an organic life and an organic garden, make sure you only use organic coffee grounds, otherwise you’ll be introducing inorganic substances.
1. Composting Old Coffee Grounds
Old coffee grounds are packed with nutrients – and they are of huge benefit to the garden. If you’re using organic paper coffee filters, too, simply dump the filter and its contents straight into your compost heap. Containing huge amounts of nitrogen, coffee grounds make nutrient-rich compost and act as “green” matter. Just don’t forget to add “brown” matter, too. Otherwise you’ll end up with highly acidic compost that’s great for some plants, but not for others.
2. Nitrogen-rich Fertilizer
There’s an array of plants – both edible and ornamental – that thrive in acidic, nitrogen-rich conditions. Blueberries, for example, need lots of nitrogen and a high acid content to really flourish. Old coffee grounds also contain a large amount of potassium – another essential for plants like blueberries, roses, and hydrangeas. Sprinkling old coffee grounds around the base of the plants, mixed with some dried leaves or grass clippings, provides a welcome boost. You can also sprinkle some grounds in the bottom of the hole when you’re planting. For a complete, well-rounded fertilizer, mix the coffee grounds with wood ash. This ensures you have an ample supply of potassium, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus. You really don’t need synthesized chemical fertilizer to encourage growth and an increased fruit or bloom yield – this simple mixture works just as well, isn’t full of chemicals, and doesn’t cost a penny. And, if you drink a lot of coffee, you’ve got a ready supply of old coffe grounds lurking around.
3. Carrots on Caffeine
Carrots are supposedly easy to grow – but many new gardeners struggle with them. Their carrots experience sporadic germination, remain tiny, fork, or end up being decimated by carrot fly. But with a little know-how, you can experience the joy of harvesting long, straight, fresh carrots. Turn the soil where you plan to plant the carrots and remove any stones or other hard debris. Make sure the soil is reasonably fine. Take some potting compost or screened, blended topsoil, and put a generous layer in the drill you’ve dug for your carrots. Then mix in a generous sprinkling of old coffee grounds. Sow the carrot seeds directly on top of the coffee grounds and topsoil mix, and cover with a fine layer of topsoil. Water lightly, step back, and watch them grow! The coffee grounds give the carrot seeds a healthy boost right from the outset, encouraging fast, vigorous germination. This helps to ensure your carrots are ready for harvest before the dreaded carrot fly strikes.
Deter carrot fly or black fly strike by planting rows of onions between rows of carrots, at a ratio of one row of onions for every two rows of carrots.
4. Odor Removal
Like onions and baking soda, old coffee grounds readily absorb odors. Place some used grounds in an open container and stick them in the back of the fridge, in the freezer, on the kitchen windowsill, or anywhere else that whiffs. It’ll absorb unwanted odors for around two weeks, after which you can throw the contents of the container on the compost heap.
5. Trash Can Deodorizer
Not only do coffee grounds absorb smells in your fridge, they’ll readily absorb strong odors from your garbage can. Fill the leg of an old pair of pantyhose, an old stocking, or some cheese cloth with coffee grounds and hang it inside your garbage can. It’ll help eliminate the unpleasant odors that tend to linger around where we discard our trash.
6. Pest Repellent
Insects dislike the scent of coffee. Let the grounds dry out if you plan to use them indoors. If you’re plagued by insects inside your home, place small open containers of grounds or little cheese cloth bags full of grounds on your window sills. To stop pests attempting to get inside, lay coffee grounds on the outside of window sills, along exterior doorways, and along the foundations of your home.
To deter pesky insects from plants, place the grounds around the base of the plants and around the edge of garden beds. As an added bonus, this will help fertilize your garden, too.
7. Abrasive Cleaner
If you’ve got heavy grime or baked-on food deposits on your cookware, or even your kitchen countertops, you can repurpose old coffee grounds as an effective abrasive cleaner. Before you go coffee cleaning crazy, we recommend you test a small, hidden section of countertop to make sure the coffee doesn’t cause a stain. Whether wet or dry, coffee grounds are naturally abrasive – but not so abrasive that they’ll scratch and damage pots, pans, glassware, and most countertops. Simply place the grounds onto the surface you want to clean, and scrub with a cloth or sponge. Just avoid working the grounds into cracks and crevices where they’ll get stuck.
8. Shoe Deodorizer
Who needs to go buy expensive Odor Eaters when you can simply use your old, dry coffee grounds to do the same job? Just sprinkle a little of the dried grounds into your shoes, leave them overnight, then empty them the next morning. That dreaded “cheesy feet” smell will vanish.
9. Freshen Drains
Because it’s abrasive and great at absorbing odors, old coffee grounds make a cheap, easy way to freshen drains and remove build-up in the pipes. Simply boil old grounds in a pan of water. Once the mixture boils, pour it straight down the drain.
10. Craft Projects
Old coffee grounds are incredibly versatile when it comes to crafts. If you’ve got a coffee-stained t-shirt, for example, instead of throwing it away, dye the whole thing in a mixture of used grounds and hot water. Or, make some tight knots – or wrap sections of the cloth tightly with rubber bands for a retro tie-dye effect.
If you want some “aged” paper, antique it in a shallow dish of coffee grounds and hot water. The dish must be large enough to accommodate the flat sheet of paper, and you need to let the grounds steep for at least five minutes. Then lay your paper in the tray, let it soak until it’s a shade or two lighter than you require, then carefully hang it up to dry. It’ll darken a touch more as it dries.
For those who adore the smell of freshly brewed coffee, use your old coffee grounds to make coffee-scented candles.
To get some other awesome simple green tips to help you reduce waste, save money, and help the planet, check out 50 Simple Ways to go Green in 2016.
These are our top 10 ways to reuse old coffee grounds. How do you use yours?