15 clever ways to use coffee around the house

There's more to coffee than a caffeine kick.

Taylor Martin CNET Contributor
Taylor Martin has covered technology online for over six years. He has reviewed smartphones for Pocketnow and Android Authority and loves building stuff on his YouTube channel, MOD. He has a dangerous obsession with coffee and is afraid of free time.
Taylor Martin
5 min read
Taylor Martin/CNET

Coffee is usually just something we reach for in the morning (and sometimes throughout the day.) But there are so many more uses for the magical bean.

From helping grow a better garden to scouring pots and pans, there's a whole lot coffee can do.

Here are 15 ways to use coffee for more than a caffeine kick.


Deterrent: The acidity and strong scent of coffee makes it a great deterrent in the garden. The acidity will keep slugs and snails out, while pairing coffee with some orange peels can overload the olfactory receptors in felines and some rodents.

Attract worms: In addition to keeping some pests out of your garden, coffee will attract helpful worms, which turn and enrich the soil underground.

Compost: You might want to start tossing your used grounds into your compost rather than the trash can. Coffee grounds can boost nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and copper levels in soil, which makes it a great natural fertilizer. With some vegetables, such as carrots or radishes, throwing coffee grounds in with the seed will help germination and promote healthier growth. It also changes the pH level in the soil, resulting in a change of color in flowers like hydrangeas.



Candles: While coffee itself has the ability to enhance your focus, sometimes something as simple as the smell of coffee can have a similar effect. Bring the smell of a coffee shop into your home by making coffee candles. Purchase some long wicks from a craft store, melt seven or eight tea light candles, and slowly pour the wax into a small jelly jar, adding coffee grounds as you go. Light one of these and it will turn your living space into a coffee scented heaven. Here's a video tutorial for this project.

Paint: Some artists have been known to use coffee as a medium. And they have been known to make some seriously impressive and beautiful paintings.

Age or stain wood and clothes: Coffee grounds by themselves can stain clothes and wood. Steep the grounds in hot water for several minutes and soak the cloth in the water or apply to wood with a brush. When dried, the cloth or wood will be a few shades darker. You can apply several coats to wood for an enhanced stain, or you can mix the coffee grounds with vinegar and steel wool to create an aged look. Here's a step-by-step video of this project.


Dry rub: If you haven't tried cooking with coffee, you should. Ground finely, coffee pairs nicely with paprika, brown sugar, pepper, onion, garlic and coriander to make a delicious dry rub for ribs, steak, and chicken.

Chili: In addition to dry rub, some people add brewed coffee to their chili to give it some added depth.

Refrigerator deodorant: If you have some funky smells emanating from your freezer or refrigerator, place a cup of unused coffee grounds inside and wait. The coffee grounds will absorb the odor.

Scour pots and pans: If you have a sauce pan or a pot that is particularly difficult to clean, toss in a dash of coffee grounds. Paired with a wash cloth, the abrasive nature of the coffee grounds will scour the surface, helping remove leftover debris from cooking. Rinse and rewash with soap and hot water to remove the grounds and sanitize.

Hand deodorant and soap: If you have been handling garlic or chopping onions and you want to remove the smell from your hands, thoroughly rub some coffee grounds on them and rinse with water. The coffee will absorb the smell and replace it with a coffee scent. Alternatively, you can create a coffee-based hand soap or scrub by combining a melt-and-pour soap base with coffee grounds (and essential oils of your choice) so that the coffee smell isn't so intense.

Living room

Air freshener: If you don't want to to through the effort of making a candle, you can simply place a cup full of whole coffee beans in your bathroom or on a side table. The scent won't be as strong, but as people walk by or open and close doors, you will get sudden, short bursts of coffee scents floating around the room. Also, you can place coffee grounds in an old sock (clean, obviously) or stockings and tie it off to make a portable air freshener. Place it under the seat in your car or over a hidden air vent in your home to spread the scent.

Hide scratches on furniture: If you have some wooden furniture with scratches on it, you can hide those scratches with some coffee. Use a tablespoon of ground coffee and place in a small amount of hot water (approximately 200 degrees Fahrenheit, 90 degrees Celsius) and let sit for a few minutes. Use a cotton swab or paint brush to rub some of the steeped coffee grounds on the scratches. It may not perfectly match the color of the surrounding wood, but it will help hide scratches.



Coffee and coconut oil make a great exfoliant.

Taylor Martin/CNET

Hair dye and rejuvenation: If you want to darken the color of your hair, brew a pot of strong coffee and let it cool. When in the shower, pour the cool coffee through your hair and let it sit for up to 60 minutes. This will make your hair darker, shinier, and healthier.

Coffee can actually add some shine to your hair and kick-start growth, as well. Simply soak coffee grounds in hot water for several minutes, then strain out the water. Take the cooled grounds and work them into your wet hair and scalp, then rinse. This will exfoliate your scalp and promote hair growth.

You can also add the grounds to your shampoo or body wash to make a daily scrub. (This, too, can darken your hair, so you may want to seek an alternative if you want to maintain a lighter hair color.)

Use a coffee filter over the drain to catch the grounds as you rinse and to prevent clogging, and be sure to quickly rinse any coffee or grounds out of the shower to prevent staining.

Exfoliant: Mix coffee grounds with a carrier oil (coconut, olive, almond, jojoba, etc.) and spread onto your face to moisturize, reduce wrinkles, remove dark circles or puffiness under the eyes and tighten the skin.