Don't Throw them away! Reuse them!
by Casey Nicholson of www.howtodothings.com
According to CBS News, “More than 50 percent of Americans drink coffee everyday — three to four cups each, more than 330 million cups a day and counting.” If you are reading this article, you most likely fall within that 50 percent. Now that all the coffee is accounted for, what about those leftover grounds? They often sit until the next morning in the coffee maker, and then it’s off to the trash with them! What if... just what if you took those coffee grounds and made use of them? What if you incorporated them into your everyday life?
In this day and age, recycling is undeniably important! Leftover coffee grounds may not seem like much, but in the grand scheme of things, they may just save you a bit of money. You may start looking at your morning staple in a whole new light.
Keep the kitchen drains smelling fresh — Do you ever walk through your kitchen and smell a foul odor, only to discover that it is emanating from your drain? You can use coffee grounds about once a week to remedy this problem. The first step is heating some water to a boil in either a teapot or a pan. Once the water is hot, bring it over to the sink. Pour about a half cup of used coffee grounds down the drain, immediately followed by the hot water. You should follow the coffee grounds with at least 5 cups of boiling hot water. The hot water will push the grounds through, ensuring that they will not clog the drain. Your drain should smell fresh for at least a week afterward.
Dye—Dyeing objects may not be your frequent pastime, but when it needs to be done, it’s nice to know there is an easy solution. Used coffee grounds can serve as a great brown dye on anything from fabric to paper or even Easter eggs. Take the coffee grounds and band them in either a filter or a nylon. Soak the grounds in two cups of hot water for five to ten minutes. Once you have done this, you have a dye ready for action. When dyeing a larger piece of fabric, simply increase the amount of water and the amount of grounds. If you have brown furniture, a dye made from coffee grounds can also be used to cover up unwanted blemishes.
Cleaner—We all have hard-to-clean objects. Whether yours is a pan that just won’t come clean or an ashtray full of stains, coffee grounds as a cleaner may be your solution. The grounds are extremely abrasive and acidic, giving them the edge when it comes to difficult cleaning. Simply mix them with a little bit of water, and then scrub with a firm brush. Do make sure that the dirty items are stain-resistant.
Otherwise you must make the cleaning a quick process because, as mentioned above, coffee grounds may dye surfaces.
Cat/pest repellant—While some of us may love cats, we don’t love them in our gardens; outdoor cats often have trouble distinguishing between a litter box and your garden. You may be surprised to discover that your used coffee grounds can help them make that distinction! Simply mix the coffee grounds well with used orange peels and then spread them around the outside of your garden. Since cats dislike the smell of coffee, as well as any citrus smells, this mixture will drive them away quickly!
Not only can it keep cats out of your garden or yard, but coffee grounds keep ants away as well! Ants also dislike the smell and, most likely, the acidity of the coffee. If you have an ant problem and some spare time, spread your coffee grounds over each ant hill. After about a week of persistently spreading the grounds, most of those pesky ants will find a new place to live!
Enhance carrot and radish growth—We all have heard that coffee grounds make a great fertilizer in garden soil. And you may also know that your grounds are a great asset to compost piles. What you probably haven’t heard is that coffee can enhance the growth of carrots and radishes in particular. Before you plant, mix your carrot and radish seeds with used coffee grounds. Then plant them all together. Not only will the grounds increase your carrot and radish size and amount, but they will also ward away any underground pests attracted to your veggies. Give this a try and watch your crop flourish!
Deodorizer—Whether you love or hate the smell of coffee, that smell is not an issue when it comes to using coffee grounds as a deodorizer. Coffee grounds attract and trap unwanted odors, without imparting that unmistakable coffee scent. After you have dried them, preferably on a cookie sheet or foil, place your coffee grounds in old pantyhose. Tie the hose off, and then simply place them in any closet or area that needs freshening up. Results should last for a few weeks or even an entire month.
You can apply the same method to your freezer. Why spend money on baking soda when your old coffee grounds do the same job? After drying them as you did above, place the grounds in an old used margarine tub or something similar. Place the lid on, but poke holes in the top to allow the flow of oxygen.
Without this oxygen, the coffee grounds will not be able to suck up odors effectively.
Give your hair a boost—Already you may be ready to dismiss this tip entirely, but coffee grounds can help your hair, especially if you are a brunette! On a cosmetic level, coffee grounds enhance the color of brown and black hair. Coffee also gives your hair added shine. By rubbing the grounds into your scalp, you can even improve skin health, helping to prevent dandruff.
So how does this work? When you are in the shower and have washed your hair, grab some used coffee grounds—it doesn’t matter if they are still wet—and rub these grounds throughout your hair. Once you have thoroughly distributed and rubbed them into your hair, rinse. It’s a good idea to do this between shampooing and conditioning to ensure that you’ve completely rid your hair of the grounds and the smell. It is also probably best to refrain from this tip if you have a very light hair color; black hair and brown hair are ideal.
You can also use coffee grounds to give your dog a shinier coat. Some have suggested that the grounds can serve as flea control. Although grounds can be used as a pest repellant in other situations, no hard evidence confirms that coffee acts as a flea repellant.
Dust inhibitor—No, I’m not asking you to dust your home with coffee grounds! This is simply a trick for those who have a fireplace in their homes. If you have a fireplace, chances are you use it often, which necessitates cleaning. Cleaning a fireplace is notoriously troublesome, as the ashes that build up are light and airy, often flying all over your house as you try to clean. Once again, the solution to this common problem is sitting in your coffee maker—wet, used coffee grounds. Before you clean your fireplace, take a good amount of wet grounds and gently place them over the top of the ashes and soot. They will quickly begin to soak up some of the dust, allowing you to clean your fireplace without the mess and the headache.
Grow your own mushrooms—This is by far one of the most interesting uses for used coffee grounds, as well as a practice you can enjoy indoors year-round. If you are a fan of mushrooms and coffee, you will be surprised at how easy it is to combine your two loves and have your own mushrooms growing within days.
First you need a glass jar or bucket. Then you will need to obtain inoculated mushroom plugs, available for purchase from many places including companies such as Fungi Perfecti, LLC. After enjoying a cup or three of coffee, place the wet grounds in your jar or bucket, and then push one of the mushroom plugs into the grounds. Every time you drink coffee, place the grounds in your bucket and add another plug. Be sure to keep the grounds wet. Within a few days you should begin to see mushroom growth. Keep adding new grounds and plugs until you run out of space in your container. You may experience a bit of mold growth on the coffee grounds; simply remove the mold so that it doesn’t affect the mushrooms.
Cooking—For cooking, don’t reach for those used coffee grounds.
Instead, opt for your leftover coffee or fresh grounds. Rather than throwing away the leftover coffee in the bottom of the pot, use it as a meat tenderizer; soak your steak in it to make the meat more tender and add a great new flavor at the same time! You can also add fresh grounds to chocolate cakes and brownies for a richer and unique flavor. Technically you could add used grounds, but fresh grounds give the desserts a stronger, fresher taste!
Now that you are familiar with some of the lesser known uses of coffee grounds, you’ll hopefully think twice before throwing them out. There’s no telling how many applications for used coffee grounds await discovery. In fact, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal, coffee grounds have recently been discovered as a source for biodiesel fuel. Tomorrow, coffee grounds may be the force driving you across town!
You can read more of Casey Nicholson’s writings at www.howtodothings.com.