We love coffee. It’s a staple of society, and whether you’re in America, Columbia or Italy, you’ll always be able to find a cup, with more than 400 billion cups consumed by the world each year. 

While drinking a cup is the best part (in our humble opinion), the brewing process yields valuable leftovers – used coffee grounds.

Used coffee grounds can actually be quite useful, even after you’ve finished your cup of joe. In honor of our partnership with Keep Knoxville Beautiful, we’re reviewing some of the most useful applications for used coffee grounds and how you can benefit from them.


Coffee is as natural as it gets. A raw, earthy substance, it’s easy for coffee grounds to go back into the planet and provide it with some much-needed nutrients.

One of the most popular ways to use coffee grounds in this way is as a fertilizer or soil amendment. Coffee grounds are rich in nitrogen, which is an important nutrient for plants. They also contain other minerals like phosphorus and potassium, which can help to promote plant health.

This makes coffee an excellent addition to any garden fertilizer recipe, as it can help to support growth in plants. Used coffee grounds can also be used as mulch, which can help to retain moisture in soil and mitigate the development of weeds.

If you have a garden, simply work some coffee grounds into the soil before planting and sprinkle them onto the topsoil as necessary.

Odor Neutralizer

While you may already appreciate the smell of fresh coffee for its ability to wake you up, you may also find it helpful in managing those odors you don’t like. Coffee grounds are a great odor neutralizer, with the capacity to both absorb and remove foul smells from small spaces. Because they contain nitrogen, coffee grounds are able to eliminate sulfur gas from the air when combined with carbon. Sulfur gas is a prominent component of many offensive smells.

This makes them an excellent tool for removing smells like cigarette smoke, paint fumes, and even skunk spray. To use coffee grounds as an odor neutralizer, simply place a bowl of them in the desired location and let it sit overnight. You can also consider combining it with other odor absorbing products like baking soda to support your impact. The grounds will absorb the odors from the air, leaving your space smelling fresh in the morning.


In addition to their other uses, coffee grounds can also be used as a physical exfoliant. When applied topically, the rough texture of coffee grounds can help to remove dead skin cells and promote cell turnover. This process can leave your skin feeling softer and looking brighter.

Coffee grounds can be used as an exfoliant in a number of ways. One popular method is to mix them with coconut oil or olive oil to create a coffee scrub. This can be used in the shower on damp skin and then rinsed off with warm water.

You can also add coffee grounds to your regular face wash or body soap for a gentle exfoliation. Simply massage the product into your skin as you would normally and let the coffee grounds work their magic. Rinse off thoroughly afterwards.

Pest Control

Coffee grounds can also be used as a pest control measure, both indoors and out. The strong smell of coffee is often enough to deter many common pests like ants, mice, and cockroaches.

To use coffee grounds as a pest repellent, simply sprinkle them around the perimeter of your home or in any areas where you’ve seen pests. You can also place bowls of coffee grounds near entryways to keep pests from coming inside.

If you have an outdoor garden, coffee grounds can also be used to keep slugs and snails at bay. Simply sprinkle them around the base of your plants and on any leaves that are touching the ground. The coffee grounds will act as a barrier, deterring pests from getting to your plants.

Natural Dye

This is one application for coffee many have inadvertently used before. We all know  what happens when we accidentally spill coffee on our clothes, but many people are unaware of the value it can offer when we do it purposefully.

Coffee’s ability to stain can actually be used as a natural dye for fabric and other materials. This is a great and natural way to add color to textiles without resorting to harsh chemicals.

To use coffee as a natural dye, simply brew a pot of very strong coffee and let it cool. Soak your fabric or other material in the coffee for at least an hour, stirring occasionally. The longer you let it soak, the darker the color will be.

Once you’re happy with the color, remove the fabric from the coffee and rinse it thoroughly. Let it air dry or wash it as normal.

coffee in cone filter

There are many ways to put used coffee grounds to good use. Coffee grounds can be a helpful addition to your beauty routine, your cleaning arsenal, and even your garden. Next time you make that delicious pot of coffee, consider saving the grounds and putting them to good use. You may be surprised at just how versatile they can be.

Need another reason to love coffee? Stop by one of our coffee shops in Knoxville and see what all the rave is about.