11 ways to reuse your coffee grounds!

You are a coffee addict (like the Clean Green Cambodia team) and don’t know what to do with your leftover coffee grounds? You have a heartache every time you get rid of it? Indeed, a mountain of used coffee grounds decomposing releases methane gas and carbon dioxide into our lovely air, so it is better to reuse the coffee grounds instead of dumping them in landfills. But don’t worry, Clean Green Cambodia gathered for you all the different and useful ways you can reuse your coffee grounds… and therefore avoid throwing them away!

Coffee grounds
Almost 10 million tons of coffee are consumed each year worldwide... that's a lot of coffee grounds!

Use it in your garden

For every one who is lucky enough to have their own garden, it turns out that coffee grounds can be really helpful if you have a green thumb!


Composting coffee grounds helps to add nitrogen to your compost pile. It is really easy: you just have to integrate the coffee grounds onto your compost and stir the mix. Used coffee filters can be composted as well! Nevertheless, keep in mind that coffee grounds are considered green compost material (despite its colour), and therefore need to be balanced with brown compost, such as leaves, paper or wood ashes (click here to learn more about the art of composting).

Directly on the plants

Other than composting, you can also choose to use coffee grounds as fertilizer and place it directly onto the soil. As coffee grounds comprises organic material (such as potassium, phosphorus and other nutrients) it can improve drainage, water retention and aeration in the soil. However, coffee grounds tend to raise the acidity of the soil, so it is better to keep it for acid-loving plants (i.e sweet potatoes or carrots).

Keep slugs (…and cats) away from your garden

Another way you can use coffee grounds is to keep slugs, ants and snails away. Those insects have trouble crawling over the grit of coffee grounds, so it is best to put some at the bottom of your plants. Surprisingly, this trick also works to keep at distance…cats. Indeed, cats are known to dislike the pungent smell of coffee, and will avoid entering your garden if you scatter some coffee grounds around the areas where you don’t want cats to go.

coffee grounds in the garden
Coffee grounds can be quite useful in the garden!

Keep unwanted insects away

Not only can coffee grounds keep your favourite plants safe from bugs, but it can also prevent them from entering your house!

Mosquito repellent

Mosquitos can be quite a bugger, especially in Cambodia. But what if there was a natural solution to get rid of them? Coffee grounds are once again saving the day! As mosquitos have a highly sensitive sense of smell, they are repelled by the odour of burning coffee grounds (just like other annoying insects like wasps and bees). You can see how to create an effective and natural mosquito repellent here. To do so, you just need coffee grounds, a lighter, a bowl and a towel/cloth.

Make a cockroach trap

You have tried everything to get rid of cockroaches but they keep coming back? Make a cockroach trap! All you need is an inch or two of moistened coffee grounds, a jar and double-sided tape. Put the coffee grounds in the jar and line the container’s neck with double-sided tape. All you need to do now is wait for a cockroach to be drawn by the sent and get caught in the trap.

Make a flea bath

To get rid of your pet’s fleas, just rub 1 to 2 cups of coffee grounds into his fur and rinse well. Some also prefer to directly add some coffee grounds to their pet’s shampoo.

Coffee grounds can be used an insect repellent
Coffee grounds is a natural and really effective insect repellent.

Useful in the house

Absorb food odours

You have surely noticed that coffee is used in perfumeries for customers to smell and eliminate the sent of all the perfume. Well, you can use coffee grounds in your own house to absorb unwanted food odours. You can even clean your hands with coffee grounds after chopping garlic or other smelly food to neutralize the bad smell.

Natural abrasive

Coffee grounds are abrasive and can help remove buildup on hard-to-clean surfaces. You can use them to scour your sink, polish your cookware or clean your grill. Also, use them to scrape your dishes clean and remove caked-on food from pots and pans: it works wonder.

Touch up furniture scratches

You desperately want to get rid of the scratch on your wooden table? Once again, coffee grounds can help you. Just mix 1 tablespoon of coffee grounds with 1 teaspoon of olive oil (or water). Apply with an old towel or a used tissue and wipe dry to minimize the appearance of scratches.

Picture of someone smelling coffee grounds
Coffee grounds have many properties, and absorbing food odors is one of them! © ScienceMag

Beauty Tips

Other than being an insect repellent and useful for the house and the garden, you can also use coffee grounds for beauty purposes.

Exfoliant & scrub for your skin

Coffee grounds are a fabulous natural exfoliator for your skin! To remove dead skin cells and smoothen your skin, you need :

–          3 teaspoons of coffee grounds

–          1 teaspoon of your favourite natural oil (coconut, almond or olive)

–          1 teaspoon of sugar (preferably brown)

Mix everything together and apply the scrub over your body. It can also be applied on your face if you do not have highly sensitive skin.

Author’s note: you might want to apply this scrub in the shower as it can get messy 😊

Mask against dark circles

Who knew adding coffee grounds to your skincare routine could help you get rid of those puffy, dark circles? The recipe is once again very simple: just mix one egg white with 3 teaspoons of coffee grounds and carefully rub it on your dark circles – but not too close to your actual eyes. Let the mask sit for 10 minutes and rinse with water or a soft, wet towel to gently clean off the mask.

coffee grounds mask against dark circles
First image: what the mix is supposed to look like. Second image: Before/During/After the application of the coffee grounds mask.

Did you like those tips? Do you have any other tricks to reuse coffee grounds or any other food waste? Share them with us in the comments!


  • Kannitha S
    August 3, 2019 at 1:01 pm

    Great article! Do you have any resources where I can find free used coffee ground in Phnom Penh?

    • Cleangreencambodia
      August 7, 2019 at 9:13 am

      Thanks Kannitha for your kind message! I don’t know places where you can get coffee ground but I would suggest either asking on the GoGreen group on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/892120540904745/ or ask a coffee place that you know to get their coffee ground. We, for instance, get coffee ground for a nearby garden at Footprint Cafe in Siem Reap and we just asked them to get theirs 🙂 Hope that helps!

Add a comment
kmKhmer en_USEnglish