7 Handy Household Uses for Coffee

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Woman holding coffee beans
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Coffee is something of a miracle. It makes early mornings possible for many folks. It also bestows health benefits that reportedly range from a longer life to a lower risk of dementia.

You also can enlist coffee beans, grounds and even the plant itself in an array of household hacks. Applications range from cooking and cleaning to keeping the kids and grandkids entertained — just to name a few. Following are several examples.

1. Home decor

coffee plant
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What kind of decoration doubles as an uncommon conversation piece? A coffee houseplant.

Yes, you can grow plants like Coffea arabica — the species from which arabica coffee beans come — indoors. You can grow them outdoors as well, although you might want to put them in pots that you can move inside for winter unless you live in a frost-free region.

You can find coffee plants online — they’re even sold on Amazon — and possibly at a local nursery. You’ll find care instructions online, too.

Like most houseplants, a coffee plant also will help cleanse your home’s air, even if it’s not among the plants known for an exceptional ability to remove toxins from indoor air.

2. Air freshener

Man smelling coffee beans
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As we detailed in “This Flight Attendant Hack Banishes Nasty Bathroom Smells,” flight crews have been using coffee to spare passengers’ noses for years.

Some freshen the air with the aroma wafting from a pot of coffee. Others have given passengers bags of coffee to hold up to their noses.

A 2012 study out of the City College of New York even found that caffeinated coffee can wipe out hydrogen sulfide gas — the chemical responsible for the stink of raw sewage.

3. Recipe ingredient

Coffee popsicles
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What better way to impress friends or family with your cooking skills than by incorporating coffee into a homemade meal?

It’s a more versatile ingredient than you might think. It can be used in multiple forms — from brewed coffee to coffee grounds — and in various types of dishes. The internet abounds with recipes ranging from coffee-ground meat rubs to iced-coffee popsicles.

4. Paint

Coffee painting
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If you’re feeling artistic or the kids or grandkids have used up all their store-bought paint again, consider dabbling in coffee. EmptyEasel.com offers directions that even work with instant coffee.

A few artists have taken up coffee as a painting medium. Artist Maria A. Aristidou, for example, opened her studio after her paintings made entirely with coffee went viral. She stumbled across the medium after spilling a latte all over a watercolor work, according to an NPR report.

“The accidental spill, the shade of coffee, and how it got absorbed in the paper fascinated me,” she said.

4. Cleaning agent

A woman scrubs her hands clean with coffee grounds
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Instead of reaching for a chemical-laden store-bought cleaner to help you scour stubbornly dirty pots and pans, try using your used coffee grounds as an abrasive cleaning agent. It’s healthier for you and your budget.

Some folks also use grounds to scrub the lingering scent of onions or garlic off their hands after handling such pungent produce.

6. ‘Mud’ play putty

A child plays with a toy in dirt
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The next time the kids or grandkids are itching to play in the dirt outside but you don’t feel like cleaning them up afterward, hand them some “muddy” play putty.

Better yet, let them make it themselves or with your assistance. Kids Activities Blog offers a recipe for gritty play putty that looks downright dirt-like — thanks to the inclusion of coffee grounds and instant coffee rather than dye.

7. Fertilizer

Compost bin
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The internet abounds with anecdotal evidence of the benefits of fertilizing plants with coffee grounds. Money Talks News contributor Angela Colley wrote in “Upcycle Your Beverages: 20 Uses for Coffee, Tea, Soda and Beer“:

“A friend once told me to mix coffee grounds in the soil for tomato plants. I tried it and grew a crop of gorgeous tomatoes.”

Coffee contains nitrogen, an important nutrient for plants. Still, the best way to use coffee in the garden remains up for debate.

Perhaps the safest way to use coffee in the garden is to toss your used coffee grounds into your compost pile and let them break down there. Then, use the finished compost in your garden. Grounds must break down before plants can benefit from them anyway, according to the University of Illinois Extension.

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