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Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Most of us are familiar with this group of words. They are thought to stem back as far as 1976 when Congress passed the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
We mentally associate that group of words with ways in which we can healthily benefit our planet. But, have you thought of how those practices may benefit you directly?
Obviously, we directly benefit from caring for our planet. I mean, this is our home. But, I'm referring to very specific benefits that you can reap from these practices.
Especially when referring to reuse, there are some products that you may want to think twice before tossing into the trash can.
The old saying that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” may hold true in ways that can even benefit your health, your food supply, your skin, and your home.
Still, with all that being said, would you have guessed that your used coffee grounds could fulfill these promised rewards? Yes, coffee grounds. You can enjoy your daily cup, or two, or three, and reuse the grounds.
Let’s face it, cleaning up after dinner is just not a favorite chore. I mean, does anyone like doing that...anyone? Okay, maybe Monica from Friends, but anyone else?
Scrubbing dirty pots and pans, cleaning your grill, or scouring the kitchen sink can be tough jobs. So, recycle your used coffee grounds and let them make those tasks a bit easier.
The abrasive texture of the grounds work in the same manner as a scouring pad to clean and shine kitchen sinks, clean grill grates, and those messy pots and pans.
Sprinkle the used grounds on these surfaces and scrub as normal, giving a good rinse when finished.
Be sure to avoid porous surfaces, however, as the grounds may cause staining on such areas.
Normally, when cleaning out a fireplace, shoveling out the ash can create an unwanted, dusty, smoky mess.
Sprinkle damp, used coffee grounds over the ash in your fireplace before removing to avoid the seemingly inevitable clouds of dust and smoke that occur during the process.
The coffee grounds weigh down the ash, making for an easier, less messy removal.
We love our pets, but with fur sometimes comes fleas. Avoid chemical flea treatments on your pets with your used coffee grounds.
When bathing your dog or cat, massage 1-2 cups of used coffee grounds into its fur. This will kill any fleas, and can even add a nice shine to that fur coat.
Be sure to thoroughly rinse the grounds out of your pet’s fur, and don’t allow your pet to ingest the grounds as eating them can be harmful to your canine or feline friend.
Fleas aren’t the only pest that coffee grounds combat. Many insects and other unwanted pests can be repelled with them.
Many insects do not like the smell of coffee, and due to the caffeine, the grounds can actually be toxic to these pests.
Because of this, you can spread the used grounds around the foundation of your home, or throughout the interior of your home in small bowls to keep away insects like ants, some beetles, wasps, bees, and fruit flies.
Note: this method is most effective when you add (outdoors) new grounds or replace (indoors) them often.
Growing up, my mom kept an opened box of baking soda in our refrigerator to absorb unwanted odors. Childhood confession: I was notorious for knocking over that opened box of baking soda. (Just don’t tell my mom, because I usually blamed it on my brothers!)
But now, as an adult, I’ve found another way to combat those unwanted odors that can sometimes lurk in the fridge...used coffee grounds.
Simply take your used coffee grounds, spread them out to dry on a countertop covered with wax or parchment paper or on a cookie sheet lined with the same. Once dry, you can store them in an open jar in your refrigerator where the grounds will act in the same manner as the baking soda, absorbing any odors from within the refrigerator.
An extra tip: this is exactly why you should never store your (unused) coffee in the refrigerator. The flavor profile of your coffee will be altered as it absorbs the odors inside your fridge.
While on the subject of odors, another confession: the odor on my hands after chopping onions has to be right up there with skunk and dirty diapers in my book. It truly gags me.
And, until now, I thought that smell was something that just had to wear off, because excessive washing never does the trick for me.
Thankfully, once again, used coffee grounds come to the rescue.
So, if you’re like me, and the smell on your hands after chopping onions is a bothersome one, you can simply pull out those used coffee grounds, rub them on your hands while washing, and the coffee grounds will absorb the onion odor.
Another odor that can clear a room rather quickly? Smelly shoes! When your feet sweat, the bacteria that live on your feet actually feast on that sweat. This produces an acid that can cause an unpleasant odor.
After you remove your shoes, sprinkle used, dried coffee grounds into them. Allow the shoes to set 10-12 hours, or overnight. The grounds will absorb the unpleasant odors.
Simply shake out your shoes over your trash can or outdoors before wearing your shoes again.
...how does my garden grow, you ask? Well, it doesn’t grow so well when the rabbits, deer, slugs, beetles, and other insects come to invade it!
To keep these garden invaders at bay, sprinkle used coffee grounds around the perimeter of your garden and around each individual plant.
Slugs do not like to crawl over the grounds. And, as we mentioned when dealing with insect pests in your home, the caffeine is toxic to insects, which causes them to avoid areas where the grounds are present.
Rabbits and deer, though cute, can wreak havoc on a garden as well. But, the smell of coffee grounds can deter these garden destroying animals, thus saving your corn and your lettuce...and carrots, and beans, and broccoli, and strawberries, and parsley...
Several years ago, there was an older gentleman in our church who shared his garden tomato bounty with me every summer. I always looked forward to tasting those tomatoes in my salads or even just plain. They were delicious.
But, when he told me how he fertilized them, it kind of made my stomach turn. Cow manure. He fertilized his tomatoes with cow manure.
I know, I know. Many folks fertilize their gardens with manure. I mean, I’m from rural Indiana. There were times...unforgettable times...when farmers would spread manure over their entire fields as fertilizer. (When used in large quantities, just trust me, you don’t forget that smell.)
But, if you’d prefer to “turn your nose up” to using manure as fertilizer and also don’t want to compromise your garden crop with toxic chemicals, opt for a nutrient powerhouse by using coffee grounds as fertilizer for your garden.
Nutrients like calcium, nitrogen, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium are abundant in coffee. These nutrients are essential for plant growth. And, it is even thought that coffee grounds can help to absorb harmful heavy metals that may be present in the soil.
To use as fertilizer, simply sprinkle the used grounds around the plants in your garden, or mix with the soil as you plant.
Any composters here?
Not only can adding coffee grounds to your compost bin help to neutralize the odor, the grounds can also speed up the composting process.
The grounds help to balance the pH levels in your compost heap, thus speeding up the decaying process of the foods in your pile.
Does your self-care routine involve a long, hot bath? Candles. Music. A glass of wine.
While you may not sip on a cup of coffee for relaxation in the tub, take the grounds from the cup that you enjoyed earlier in the day, and add a little bit of color and shine to your hair while you unwind.
Take approximately 1-2 cups (depending on the length and thickness of your hair) of used coffee grounds, add a few tablespoons of warm water or your favorite conditioner to keep the mixture moist, mix together, and massage throughout unwashed hair.
This can be messy, so I would recommend placing an old towel on the floor to catch any grounds that may drop while incorporating into your hair.
Once you’ve thoroughly massaged the grounds throughout your hair, wrap your hair onto the top of your head and cover your hair with a shower cap.
Enjoy your hot bath, allowing the grounds to darken your hair without the use of harsh, potentially cancer-causing chemicals like those found in many hair dyes.
After approximately 30-60 minutes (once again depending on the length and thickness of your hair), thoroughly rinse the grounds out of your hair. And, get a bonus scalp massage in the process with the exfoliating benefits of the coffee grounds.
Note: Most sources say that this is mainly recommended for brunettes and those with dark red hair and is even discouraged for those with blonde or silver hair. But, having tried this on my medium to dark blonde hair, I will say that my hair benefited by gaining a healthy shine and did appear subtly darker in color for about two weeks, even with regular washing.
Both dirt and dead skin cells can leave our skin looking dull. Many opt for store bought exfoliating products to cleanse and brighten their skin and thus their appearance.
The problem with many of these products, however, is that they contain harmful chemicals like phthalates, sodium lauryl sulfate, fragrance, and petroleum products.
You can use your old coffee grounds and their antioxidant filled, abrasive qualities as an all-natural exfoliant to remove dirt and dead skin cells, and brighten your skin.
Simply add a small amount to your hand and gently scrub onto your face (avoiding your eyes) and body, rinsing afterwards.
If you’d like to take it a step further and make a scrub to store and use regularly, consider the following recipe:
Melt coconut oil and allow to cool but not solidify. Once coconut oil has cooled, mix all ingredients together and store in an airtight container. Use 1-2 times per week.
Dry, cracked lips aren’t the most kissable, are they?
You can soothe and soften your chapped lips with your used coffee grounds.
Try the following mixture:
Gently rub the mixture into dry, chapped lips for approximately 30 seconds, and then wash the mixture off with a warm, damp cloth. Finish by using your favorite lip balm to keep your lips moist and soft.
Late nights at work. New baby at home. Allergies. Tearful season of life.
There are many reasons that we may be plagued with dark circles and puffiness under our eyes. But, coffee grounds can help there too.
Many store bought products for aging, including eye creams, boast of caffeine as their powerful anti-inflammatory ingredient that can lessen the appearance of dark circles and puffy eyes.
But, why buy expensive store bought products when you have a solution available to you each time you brew a cup of coffee?
The caffeine in your coffee grounds, when applied to the area underneath the eyes, can reduce dark circles and fight the effects of aging.
Chill your used coffee grounds, then apply a thin layer to the area underneath the eyes. Let set for approximately 10 minutes before rinsing.
Many recipes call for coffee grounds to add the well-known and well-loved java flavor to their dishes.
But, you don’t have to diminish your supply to accommodate for these recipe additions.
Used coffee grounds can add just as much flavor as fresh grounds to your recipes.
You can also use the grounds as a component in dry rubs (see recipe below) for meats and gain both flavor and the added benefit of a built in tenderizer due to the naturally occurring enzymes in the grounds.
Mix ingredients thoroughly. Sprinkle a thin layer of the rub onto steak and pat with your hand to ensure that it adheres before grilling.
After reviewing all of those benefits, I have to admit, I feel a little like Jack...you know, from Jack and the Beanstalk. And, while they probably won’t grow a giant beanstalk, the more I learn about coffee, the more I’m convinced that these are the real magic beans!
So, after sipping your routine Lifeboost cup of joe, cut down on waste and help your skin, your home, your recipes, and even your health by reusing the grounds!
MEDICAL DISCLAIMER This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Charles Livingston nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.