15 Fabulous Uses for Coffee You May Not Know About

coffee beans

My relationship with coffee began just after the birth of my first child. Like most first time parents, I completely underestimated how exhausted I would be. After the first few weeks, the days and nights blended together and my concept of time completely disappeared. It was especially difficult after I returned to work full-time. Coffee was like a comforting friend that also helped me to function throughout the day. While I admit that an excessive coffee habit probably isn’t going to make your dentist happy, I have come to learn over the past several years that coffee actually has many uses ranging from beauty to household helpers. Check out the top 15 ways to use coffee that don’t involve drinking it!

Fertilize your garden

Some flowering plants, like hydrangeas, change color depending on the pH level of the soil. Adding coffee grounds will change the acidity in the plant and reduce the pH level giving you bright blue flowers. If you grow azaleas, hydrangeas, rhododendrons, camellias, roses, or other acid-loving plants, then used coffee is the best fertilizer for you!  Mix your old grounds with dead grass clippings, brown leaves, or dry straw to neutralize some of the acidity, the spread around your plant beds.  Used coffee grounds also add nitrogen and potassium to the soil as well as a boost of magnesium which all plants need to stay healthy.

Keep Bugs Away

Unlike worms, slugs, snails, and other bugs do not like the acidity of coffee and will not cross the ground if it’s sprinkled with coffee grounds. Sprinkle used grounds around your plants to protect them against destructive garden pests like ants, snails, and slugs.  I have even heard that old grounds mixed with dried orange peels will keep away some small mammals like cats although I have never tried this method.

Increase Harvest of Some Vegetables

Mixing coffee grounds with the seeds before you plant carrots and radishes will keep pests and bugs away and potentially increase your harvest. If you love carrots like you love coffee, then this tip is for you! Your carrots will love you back if you share your old grounds with them at planting time.  Before you sow carrot seeds, mix them with some old dried coffee grounds to give them an energy boost right from the start. You will get better produce with the added bonus of deterring pests that want to eat your carrots before you do.

Attract Worms

On the flip side, there are some pests that you may want to attract to your garden. Worms might not be the best pets, but they are great for your garden. They turn the soil and fertilize it with their own body processes (which is why they are also used in composting). Worms are attracted to coffee grounds, so adding it to your garden beds will attract more of these helpful little wigglers.

Enhance your Compost

Coffee grounds will add much-needed nitrogen to your compost bin. Just pour them in your compost container. Coffee grounds make excellent “green” matter as they are rich in nitrogen.  Also, beneficial worms may be attracted to your compost with the addition of old coffee.  Just be sure to limit the amount of grounds that you add to your pile so that you don’t throw off the ratio of “green” to “brown” material.

Scour Your pans

A few coffee grounds on a rag can help remove caked-on dirt. Just make sure not to use it on ceramic or other surfaces that stain easily. Sprinkle old coffee grounds onto a cleaning cloth and use them to scrub away stuck-on food from counters or dishes.  While used grounds are abrasive, they aren’t so harsh that they will damage the surfaces in your kitchen or on your dishes.

Make Garbage Disposal Cleaners

With this recipe, you can make cleaners that will keep your garbage disposal clean and smelling fresh.

Remove Odors

Instead of baking soda, use a box of used coffee grounds to absorb smells in your fridge. Used coffee grounds can be used much like baking soda for absorbing food odors in the refrigerator and freezer. Fill a small open container with your old grounds, place it in the back of the fridge, then forget about it for a couple of weeks while you collect more.  As an added bonus, after you remove smelly old grounds from the refrigerator or freezer, you can then toss them on the compost pile or use them for fertilizer!

Strip Buildup from Hair

The abrasive texture of coffee grounds will help strip oils and buildup from your hair. This tip is best for brunettes since coffee can also darken hair. In fact, brunettes and dark redheads can benefit from rinsing their hair in coffee to rejuvenate their color. Just steep your used grounds in two cups of hot water and then rinse this through your hair. If you use a lot of hair products, your hair is probably weighed down by residue. Remove that build-up using old coffee grounds to give your hair a lift and restore its natural healthy shine.  Before you shampoo, simply grab a handful of used grounds and massage them into your hair.  The coarse texture is enough to break apart product residue, but also gentle enough that it won’t damage your locks.

Create an Exfoliating Scrub

Exfoliating with coffee grounds can help stimulate blood flow, promoting healthier and tighter skin. Just add mineral oil or vitamin E oil to old coffee grounds and apply it to your skin with a loofah. Or try our recipe for coffee scrub here.

Cellulite Treatment

Poor diet, frequent or extended periods of sitting, smoking, or genetic predisposition – cellulite has many causes and for every cause there are at least a dozen “cures” which may or may not actually work.  Well, here’s one that does: used coffee grounds. Try our recipe for Firming Coffee Scrub Bars. Use the bars twice per week on any areas affected by cellulite.  Results should start to become apparent within four weeks of steady treatment.

Pet Repellent

Is the annoying neighborhood cat always in your flower bed messing up your hard work? Sprinkling coffee grounds may keep those animals away. Most animals’ sense of smell is much greater than ours, and while coffee that may smell great to us can smell very unpleasant to a hyper-sensitive feline. Used coffee grounds can be mixed with orange peels (or other citrus) and spread around flowerbeds for an inexpensive pet deterrent.

Palate Cleanser

Many years ago when I worked for Bath & Body Works, we used to have small dishes of coffee beans near the product testing areas. The coffee beans were used as an effective way to “cleanse the palate”. The reason you want to smell coffee beans between perfume and lotion samples is that when testing out powerful scents it can get hard to discern one scent from another. The strong odor of coffee beans excites different areas in your olfactory, allowing a more sensitive smell for the next perfume you want to smell.

Meat Rub

We all know coffee is great for breakfast, but what about dinner? Try a coffee rub on your next steak dinner for a unique flavour experience! Toast fresh coffee grounds under a hot broiler for about 30 seconds, shaking often to prevent burning. Then add the toasted grounds with other steak spices and rub into the steak. Let marinate for a few hours in the fridge. Cook steak as desired.

Wood Stain

Coffee’s dark color makes it a good choice for giving surfaces a worn-look. You’re not going to end up with a very dark dye or stain, but you will get a unique, weathered look. Depending on number of applications and type of material the coffee is applied to, this method of dyeing and staining can produce some effective results. Brew a strong pot of coffee and place the grounds back into the pot, allow to dry slightly and then apply to untreated wood. The coffee will stain the wood a slightly darker stain, but don’t expect very dark results. Leaving the coffee grounds directly on the wood will result in a darker stain.
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