Coffee is delicious, and, if you’re like me, an absolutely necessary part of your daily routine. The caffeine in coffee that helps you get going in the morning is also a powerful antioxidant that can help protect against certain diseases. Additionally, caffeine constricts blood vessels, so when coffee (either brewed coffee or coffee grounds) is applied topically, it can help your skin appear firmer and brighter. But coffee is so much more than its caffeine content. Coffee is acidic, which means it’s great for the garden, and the grit of coffee grounds makes a great natural cleaner. Brewed coffee and coffee grounds can be turned into anything from clothing dye to furniture polish (yes, really). So, before you dump your leftover coffee (or grounds!), try some of these creative ways to recycle whatever’s left after you’ve had your daily fix.
For leftover brewed coffee:
1. Replace water or milk with coffee in overnight oats.
Need a double shot of caffeine to get you going in the morning? Then you’ll love this overnight oats recipe that uses leftover coffee. If you prefer warm oatmeal in the morning, simply replace half the water or milk you normally use with coffee for extra flavor and a little bit of caffeine.
2. Make coffee cubes.
Freeze your leftover brewed coffee in ice cube trays. They make perfect bite-sized treats on hot days, and they’re also great to throw into cold brew because they won’t dilute the coffee like regular ice cubes do.
3. Bye-bye, coffee stains!
Spilled coffee down the front of your favorite button-down? Instead of tossing your shirt, dye it using brewed coffee. Here’s a handy how-to guide for dying textiles using coffee or tea.
4. Cover up those dents and dings.
There’s no need to buy expensive products to treat scratches on wood furniture when you have coffee on hand. For darker woods, coffee can be used as a stain to mask scratches on the wood’s surface. Simply brew a strong cup, and use a cotton ball or Q-tip to dab coffee on the scratch. Let it dry completely before applying another coat so you can make sure the colors match.
5. Unleash your inner artist.
Depending on the blend and brew strength, coffee can actually be a variety of shades, which makes it the perfect medium for watercolor painting. DIY your own masterpiece using this Design Sponge tutorial.
For coffee grounds:
6. Help your garden grow.
Coffee grounds are highly acidic, and they can be used with crushed egg shells to fertilize the soil of plants that like acidic soil, like tomatoes, carrots, and cucumbers. Here’s a complete list of plants that love acidic soils and will enjoy your coffee almost as much as you do. An added bonus is that the acidity of coffee grounds can keep some pests out of the garden. Mixed with orange peels, coffee grounds give off a scent that most garden pests hate.
7. Get glowing skin.
There are a ton of skin scrubs that use coffee grounds as a base, but my favorite way to use coffee grounds is as a scrub to temporarily mask pesky pockets of cellulite. The caffeine in grounds energizes your skin and increases blood flow to fill in those little dimples.
8. Destroy medication.
If you can’t find a drug take-back location, you can safely dispose of medications by mixing them in a plastic bag with used coffee grounds and water before tossing the whole bag. Don’t pour the contents of the bag onto the ground or down your sink because those dissolved medications can still leach into the soil and water. Instead, zip, toss, and let the coffee do the work of breaking down the medications.
9. Beat the stink.
If your refrigerator is smelling less than fresh, simply place a bowl of used coffee grounds in the back of the fridge overnight. The coffee grounds are similar to baking soda and will soak up most stinky smells. Simply remove in the morning, and if you have a garbage disposal, toss the grounds in there and grind them up to keep your sink smelling fresh as well.
10. Set the mood with coffee candles.
My husband hates coffee but loves the way it smells (he’s so weird). He can enjoy the scent of a fresh bag of coffee anytime with these DIY coffee ground candles. Not only do they smell delicious, but they look extra fancy too.