Coffee

Why You Should Save All Those Used Coffee Grounds

Come winter, you'll thank us.

by:
September 10, 2019
Photo by Ty Mecham

The end of summer is here, and in all seriousness, I have officially begun planning my winter moisturizing regimen. Which is to say that, in conjunction with the single, beautifully variegated green-to-red leaf I saw on the ground today, I have to accept that winter is, at the very least, lurking in the distance.

I’m decidedly not a cold weather person and prefer to spend December through February in another climate, or else, inside with my windows plastic-wrapped. But in my quest to figure out how to have the mildest winter possible, I stumbled on a piece of advice that’s clever enough to make me look forward to putting on my winter coat and boots—that is, for as long as it takes me to try out this new winterizing technique.

Okay, here goes. You know how everyone says your leftover coffee grounds are great for composting and gardening? Well it’s true, plus they’re perfect if you’re looking for natural way to scour something greasy, whether that’s a kitchen pot, or your hands after changing the oil in your car. But once winter hits (and you know it's coming!), you should be saving your coffee grounds—so that you can throw them on the icy ground.

While your leftover coffee is no replacement for rock salt (or ice melt, which are two different things), your used-up grounds are good for adding extra traction to slippery sidewalks and steps. And though one pot’s worth of grounds might not seem like enough to make a difference, you can probably amass a decent supply of useful grit after a week or so of brewing.

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Top Comment:
“Please be aware that you CANNOT just throw wet coffee grounds down anywhere. They must be thoroughly dried first or they will definitely mold and rot. Don't throw wet ones down in your garden, and certainly do NOT just plop them into your houseplants, unless you're conducting a mold-growing experiment. Spread them out thinly on a sheet pan and, if you have a gas oven the pilot light alone will dry them in about 24 hours. Air drying will take longer. If you're saving them up, transfer each batch to something like an old coffee can or large jar after they dry. This is the voice of experience speaking. ”
— Sharon
Comment

Like sidewalk salt or sand, the coarse texture of ground coffee provides a safer surface to walk on than slippery ice. It also happens to be an existing part of your grocery list—which means that this cold weather utility won’t cost you any extra.

I should note that some sources would like to have us believe that the coffee grounds actually help the ice melt faster, which would be amazing, but this has sadly been debunked. Still, don’t let that stop you from using your leftover coffee grounds this winter instead of throwing them directly in the trash!


Have new and interesting uses for your coffee grounds? Share them in the comments!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Kirk Russell
    Kirk Russell
  • Mumsy01
    Mumsy01
  • catalinalacruz
    catalinalacruz
  • epicharis
    epicharis
  • Susan Snow-Plank
    Susan Snow-Plank
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Karen Lo

Written by: Karen Lo

lunch lady

64 Comments

Kirk R. December 17, 2019
Hmm... what about the coffee stain that’s left behind? I’ll not use my toothbrush on it.
 
Mumsy01 November 2, 2019
Don’t rinse them down the drain! And yes they get moldy very fast. You have to be careful when using around plants for the same reason if too thick!
 
catalinalacruz October 30, 2019
It's really very simple. Compost coffee grounds or put them in the garbage. Don't risk exposing animals to them.
P.S. My compost area is fenced to keep my pets and wild animals out.
 
epicharis October 27, 2019
This comment section is a beautiful journey and a reminder that F52 needs to stick to food and not lifestyle articles. As everyone has pointed out, this article isn't just wrong, it's irresponsible. Your best-case scenario is a dirty house and sidewalk; your worst-case includes poisoned dogs and mold everywhere. Just compost your grounds, folks.
 
Susan S. October 27, 2019
You can put them in a small container and take them with you in the shower. They make a nice exfoliating scrub and the caffeine has an added benefit of reducing and breaking down cellulite bumps on the buttocks and thigh areas. I would first use the scrub and then follow up with a moisturizing body wash.
 
Mari O. October 26, 2019
There's a type of edible mushroom you can grow on spent coffee grounds...check YouTube for instructions.
 
Virginia H. October 26, 2019
Will do!
 
Rhonda October 25, 2019
So,, the downside is you are tracking coffe grinds into you house. Right?
 
[email protected] October 25, 2019
A up of coffee grounds added to brownie batter adds great flavor. Added to vanilla ice cream. Mix does wonders, too.

A cup of coffee grounds added to pot plants feeds them and perks them up.
 
John T. October 25, 2019
My experience with saving coffee grounds is that they can become moldy in a relatively short time. They are great for making compost, but there is no good way to store them if you need enough to provide traction on a sidewalk or driveway.
 
Virginia H. October 25, 2019
I got excited thinking there was another use for my coffee grounds, but alas I live in Los Angeles near the ocean and snow is not likely to happen here. Well once I saw flakes but when they got close to the ground...gone! Thank you anyway, I love your recipes and ideas! Keep up the awesome work!
 
Grammy October 25, 2019
My cats like to poop in the bushes by the front door. If I remember to put coffee grounds there a few times a week they poop elsewhere.
 
Megan D. October 25, 2019
Please don't, it's not just that they don't like it, it can harm them. Black pepper would be a better option as they don't like it but it will not harm them. You can sprinkle pepper ground, or I use black pepper essential oil diluted in water and spray as needed.
 
Sandy A. October 25, 2019
I did double check with the CDC and yes indeed coffee grounds can be lethal to cats and dogs, so they are likely toxic to other wildlife.
 
Grammy October 25, 2019
I have watched my cats and they don't even go near it. So I know they don't eat them.
 
Leslie October 28, 2019
But other animals might . . .
 
Vicki M. October 25, 2019
Please retract this story ...this is poison to dogs even if you dont have dogs... no area has no pets....if my dog gets sick, I'm sueing my neighbors...this is not a normal use and they should have investigated the possible dangers. AS YOU SHOULD HAVE.
 
Anna October 25, 2019
Love the idea.... until you start tracking coffee grounds into your house/car on your boots. Even if you take your boots off right away, they spread around inside.
 
Kathleen I. October 24, 2019
As someone who already uses a walker to prevent falling, using coffee grounds to provide more traction is a welcome idea. We do not have a pet, nor are there any loose pets in our neighborhood. The idea that the grounds can be swept into the lawn sounds very do-able and environmental.
 
Mari O. October 26, 2019
You can use organic kitty litter. Once frozen it's quite nubbly.
 
Gail M. October 24, 2019
Dig a hole in your flowerbed throw your dried coffee grounds and egg shells to feed your earthworms. Help break up your soil.
 
Shannon S. October 24, 2019
I would be concerned about staining the sidewalk or paver walkways.
 
Janee’ October 24, 2019
I save them all the time to put around all my acid loving plants in spring !! Blueberries love them !! Can’t imagine the mess on my sidewalks!! I will keep them in the garden !!!
 
Uki October 24, 2019
Dry coffee grounds when ignited in a safe container seem to chase away wasps. I learned that on a recent trip to Germany from an outdoor cafe owner.
 
Megan D. October 24, 2019
As I live in LA no slippery sidewalks! But I use mine in face masks, body scrubs and I make garbage disposal pods mixing with baking soda and epsom salts! The rest I compost! (yes, a lot of coffee is drunk at my house!)