If you love your morning cup of joe, there's a pretty good chance you're throwing out spent coffee grounds on a regular basis. Take a look at this list, and you just might discover more than a few ways you can recycle and reuse old grounds so you can enjoy them over (and over) again!
Not a coffee drinker? These days, local coffee shops offer their spent grounds for free. Find one near you, and stop by to pick up a bag or two.
SMOKE OUT MOSQUITOES
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, coffee grounds are a safe and effective way to keep pests away. The smoke from burning used ground coffee is especially effective to send mosquitoes away because they are seriously repelled by the smell, which to humans is quite subtle.
Start with completely dry used coffee grounds. Place the grounds in a bowl or other flat surface lined with foil, and light them with a match, the way you would incense. Add a few fresh bay leaves to amplify your repellant. Set the container(s) upwind to get the scent moving.
REPEL INSECTS AND FLEAS
Caffeine and diterpenes found in coffee grounds can be quite toxic to insects, which makes them effective in deterring fruit flies, beetles and other such pests. Scatter the grinds in your garden to help create a barrier that slugs and snails do not like to crawl over.
To rid your dog of fleas, try this: After bathing, rub 1 to 2 cups of wet grounds into his fur. Rinse well. This will kill fleas and also leave Fido's fur silky smooth.
Spent coffee grounds contain nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, along with a variety of micronutrients. When mixed with the soil in your garden or houseplants, coffee grounds will release the nutrients while they decompose. This makes for a good slow-release fertilizer.
Coffee grounds help attract worms, which are great for your garden. If you love to fish and have your own worm bed, you may already know that mature horse manure and coffee grounds make the richest, finest worm bed mix. You'll grow some mighty fine bait once you start adding spent coffee grounds.
If you don't have time or need for those spent grounds right now, compost them for later. Adding compost to your garden can significantly improve the health of your plants. Coffee grounds can help increase nutrient levels and decrease the greenhouse gas emissions of your compost. One study found that compost made with coffee grounds and kitchen waste was richer in nutrients than compost made with waste alone. Another study determined that compost containing 40% coffee grounds produced the best quality compost.
HAND SCRUB AND EXFOLIANT
This is so easy but super effective to clean and exfoliate hands after time in the garage or garden. Melt a bar of glycerin soap in a double boiler set over medium heat. Once melted, stir in about 1/3 cup old coffee grounds. Pour into a mold and allow to cool fully. Coffee grounds are a natural abrasive.
Coffee contains natural acids and enzymes that are especially effective at tenderizing meat. How? Add the grounds to your favorite dry rub. Apply the rub to the meat at least 2 hours before cooking. The grounds along with the dry rub will get cooked into the meat, creating a dark, crispy crust or "bark."
This study on both humans and animals found that applying caffeine to the skin increases blood flow and accelerates hair growth. Here's the routine: Before you shampoo, take a handful of coffee grounds and massage them into your scalp and hair for several minutes. Rinse away, and shampoo as normal. Repeat at least twice a week.
Make a thick paste of used coffee grounds and water. Spread this paste over scratches on wood furniture. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes or so and then wipe away with a clean cloth. Notice how the coffee has dyed the exposed wood to make it less noticeable. Need it darker? Reapply until you're happy with the results.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at EverydayCheapskate.com, "Ask Mary a Question." This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of Debt-Proof Living, a personal finance member website and the author of the book Debt-Proof Living, Revell 2014. To find out more about Mary visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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