What do you do with your spent coffee grounds? If you've just been throwing them away, you're tossing out a treasure that you could be using in many other ways. From gardening to beauty routines, here are a few of the many uses for used coffee grounds.
Coffee Grounds in the Garden
Used coffee grounds contain a lot of nutrients that will make your acid-loving plants happy. Mix in about 1/2 cup of used grounds per gallon of soil in containers. For garden beds, use about 1/2 cup per 5 square feet. Sprinkle the grounds over the surface and work them in to the top six inches of soil before planting. To make them even more nutritious, mix them with a couple of finely crushed eggshells.
Your plants like coffee as much as you do, but it's best not to dose them directly. Instead, most horticulturists recommend adding coffee grounds to compost, where they'll break down and add valuable nutrients to the fertilizer mix.
Do you have problems with slugs and snails munching on your growing vegetables? Draw a 1/2-inch wide circle of coffee grounds around the plants you want to protect. It won't kill the slugs, but it will turn them away. Apparently, they don't care for the gritty texture against their bodies.
If you don't garden, you probably know someone who does. Check with local schools and youth groups, or call your Regional Environmental Council to find a nearby community garden that would love to have your used coffee grounds.
Coffee Grounds in Your Beauty Routine
Coffee scrub hand cleaner probabably had a place on grandma's kitchen sink -- and grandpa's workbench. Toss unused soap ends in a small jar. Add a few tablespoons of coffee grounds and enough water to cover it all. In a day or two, you'll have thick, creamy liquid soap scrub. The grittiness of the grounds work together with the very mild acids to remove ingrained dirt and soften your skin. As an added bonus, coffee is a great deodorizer, so your hands won't smell like the garlic, onions or fish you cooked.
Coffee Body Scrub
Why spend a fortune for designer body scrubs when you can make your own for just a couple of dollars? Mix together equal parts of sugar, coffee grounds and vegetable glycerin (available at your local pharmacy for a few dollars a bottle). Stir well and let it sit overnight. The glycerin is a humectant, attracting moisture to your skin, and the coffee grounds and sugar gently strip away dead skin and help encourage healthy circulation.
Save up a few pots worth of used coffee grounds in a covered container. Add a cup or two of warm water and let it steep while you wash your hair. Strain out the grounds and pour the liquid over your hair. Massage it in well and leave it in your hair for about five minutes, then rinse well. The nutrients in the coffee stimulate your scalp and give your hair a glossy, healthy shine.
Bonus: Crafty Coffee Ground Uses
Coffee stains, so why not use that to your advantage? Reuse spent coffee grounds to make a weak dye solution to color natural fabrics, yarn and paper. The resulting color will depend on the strength of the dye and the length of time In the dye bath, but you'll generally get a soft, antique tan rather than a dark brown. For variations, try sprinkling old coffee grounds over wet fabric or paper and letting it dry.
Do you do something different or unusual with your spent coffee grounds? We'd love to hear about it in the comments!