14 Crazy Alternative Uses For Coffee

by anna on May 25, 2009

[singlepic=51,560,560,,center]Photo by emolawn

For this week’s Monday list post, I’ve once again culled the interwebs View definition in a new window to collect crazy repurposing tips for common household products. Somebody, somewhere, must like these tip lists as much as I do–I know it, because there’s a bazillion of them everywhere. Now, I should note that I’ve not used most of these tips myself, except for the first one, which I highly recommend. But the rest? Who knows. Where appropriate, I’ve included objections that people might have to the uses, as well as a little commentary for your amusement. If you have any alternative uses for coffee that I’ve missed, please do add your ideas to the comment section. Enjoy!

  1. To eliminate objectionable odors.
    I use a mesh bag filled with whole coffee beans to destankify the diaper pail, but you can use whole coffee beans almost anywhere that you want to eliminate dank odors. Throw a few beans in stinky shoes, or in a gym bag, or in the bottom of your regular trash can. The beans will make the room smell like Starbucks for about a week, but after that they just absorb the smell. Listen, if it works for drug-sniffing dogs, then you know it will work for diaper stank. Other sites I’ve perused have suggested using coffee grounds to keep refrigerator odors under control. The idea is to put grounds in a pair of old nylons (does anyone wear these anymore?) or a sock for this purpose. I would probably use baking soda before coffee, personally, but if odors in your refrigerator are a big enough problem to require coffee to cure, you might want to look into a different place to keep your diaper pail. Because: 1) what else could be producing that bad of a smell, assuming there are no dead bodies in your refrigerator; and 2) do you want to eat something that smells like this?
  2. To scrub your dishes.
    Word has it that old coffee grounds can be used to scrub hard-to-clean dishes. Via Lifehacker, you can pack the grounds into a piece of square cloth and gather the ends with a rubber band to make a little scrubbing bag. Apparently the coarse texture is perfect for creating enough friction to get your pots and pans clean. And if that doesn’t work, you can always soak the pan with a dryer sheet. Or throw the pan out.
  3. To remove food smells from your hands and/or to soften your hands.
    If you are cooking and have garlicky hands, rub coffee grounds on your hands to eliminate the smell. Using the grounds as a scrub for your hands will soften them as well. Of course, then your hands will smell like coffee, so I guess it’s just a question of which smell is more objectionable to you.

  4. To repel garden pests.
    If you put some coffee grounds in with your plants, garden pests will stay away. Though many people suggested this idea on many different sites, several people also objected because the coffee grounds might be toxic to animals that go in the garden. I don’t really see a cat or a dog eating dirt mixed with coffee grounds, but then I didn’t realize until too late that cat shit is considered to be a delicacy on Planet Golden Retriever, either, so what do I know? Another side effect of putting coffee grounds on your plants that isn’t so widely discussed is the possibility of your plants wanting to wear horn-rimmed glasses, and starting to stay up late discussing Kierkegaard and smoking cigarettes with unemployed philosophy majors.

  5. To increase carrot and radish harvest.
    Mixing carrot and radish seeds with dry coffee grounds before planting them encourages their growth. Why? I don’t really know. But apparently, the coffee can offer protection against pests and animals while they are growing, and because carrot seeds are very fine, they are more likely to stay where they are planted if they are mixed in with coffee.
  6. As a flea rinse.
    According to Natural Home Magazine, you can dilute coffee grounds and use them as a flea-repelling rinse for your dogs. The instructions are to rub the grounds through the dog’s fur and brush to distribute. The advantage of this over using Frontline? I guess it’s theoretically less toxic–but as people point out, dogs can get very sick from coffee, so this seems like a bad idea to me. I’m sure it’s not good for them to ingest Frontline, either, but at least Frontline won’t turn their fur a grainy brownish consistency.
  7. As a facial mask.
    Caffeine is useful for reducing puffiness, so if you add an egg white to 1/4 C of coffee grounds, you can make a homemade, anti-puffiness facial mask. There are no instructions for how long to leave on said mask, but I’d say not more than 15 minutes, unless you want to smell like a greasy spoon diner.
  8. As an exfoliating, anti-cellulite treatment.
    Using old coffee grounds as an exfoliating scrub can slough away dead skin cells and break up cellulite pockets under the skin. Mix some coffee grounds up with body lotion, and rub it into the backs of your thighs and anywhere else you find cellulite. The caffeine will increase blood flow on the affected areas, as well as increasing circulation and reducing the appearance of cellulite immediately underneath the skin. It is recommended that you leave the mixture on for a half hour, and then drink a lot of water afterwards.
  9. Coffee flavored ice cubes.
    Using coffee grounds to make coffee-flavored ice cubes for iced coffee in the summer is advised by a commenter at Lifehacker. The benefit is that then you can have cold iced coffee that doesn’t get watered down.

  10. Removing Sharpie marks form dry-erase boards.Yes, this happens all the time. You know, when you’re using a permanent marker on a dry-erase board, because 1) I’m always around dry-erase boards, and 2) I’m always falling prey to pranksters who leave the permanent markers where I’m sure to use them on white boards. And how useful of an idea it is to rub something dark and black all over a smooth white surface in order to “clean” it? Super useful.
  11. To Stop The Bleeding.
    Here’s another gem from the Lifehacker comments: “Coffee grounds are a natural anticoagulant and can be used in an emergency to stop bleeding.” Right, I won’t dwell on the many alarming questions this comment raises (What bleeding? Do you live in an action movie?), but just remind you that “anti-coagulant” means to stop blood clotting, not to start it. So what coffee would be useful for is to thin the blood in the event View definition in a new window of a potentially fatal blood clot. That is, it would be useful if you could put coffee on the blood clot, which you wouldn’t be able to do. Either way, somebody track that IP address, please.

  12. As fertilizer.Coffee grounds not only repel garden pests, they also serve as good lawn fertilizer. Apparently, the nitrogen-phosphate-potash ration in coffee grounds is similar to that found in commercial fertilizers, and it is free. If you don’t have coffee grounds (or enough coffee grounds) to use as fertilizer, you can get them for free from your local Starbucks, by the way.
  13. Composting and Worm Harvesting.
    You can learn how to compost with coffee grounds here. If you are trying to harvest worms for fishing or for making better soil, you can throw in old coffee grounds for them to eat.
  14. To stain wood and/or cover up scratches on furniture.
    You can use coffee grounds to stain wood, adding more or less water to make it lighter or darker. On a related note, coffee will work as an all-natural dye for scratches on furniture: Just rub wet coffee grounds across the scratch.
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Juliet May 25, 2009 at 4:24 pm

I am in big trouble in our house if I ever toss coffee grounds or used tea leaves. Scott is a big composter. He used to do vermiculture too (ick) but we had too many weather extremes.

Snakey May 26, 2009 at 7:41 am

You give good list snark, blog lady!

I await the “20 uses for banana peels” post.

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