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The Many Lives of Leftover Coffee

Italy - 27 Jul 12

Coffee is one of the world’s most popular drinks. But what to do with leftover coffee grounds or old beans? Did you know they can be used for cleaning, removing odors and in the garden, among many other household uses? So if you have any old ground coffee, coffee beans or used coffee grounds, consider one of these alternative reuses, rather than throwing them out. 1) Deodorize your refrigerator or car Ground coffee, like baking soda, can absorb bad smells. To stop unpleasant odors and make them disappear as though by magic, just put a few spoonfuls of coffee in a small container inside your fridge, or in a tulle bag inside your car. 2) Remove smells from your hands When you’ve been cutting up garlic, onion or leeks, the smells can often linger on your hands for a long time. To make them go away, rub your hands with a little ground coffee (fresh or used) before rinsing them with water. 3) Clean your fireplace To make it easier to clean a fireplace, just sprinkle the ashes with coffee grounds, weighing them down and making them easier to scoop up with a small shovel or to suck up with the vacuum cleaner. 4) Keep ants away To keep ants out of your house, sprinkle the floor with dried coffee grounds, or sprinkle them around the ant-nest. The smell should keep them away. 5) Fertilize plants Plants that like acidic soil will be happy if you put coffee grounds near their roots. Leftover brewed coffee, diluted with some water, can also be used. The nutrients in coffee encourage the growth and flowering of azaleas, rhododendrons and blueberry bushes. 6) Make an abrasive dish soap Regular dish soap can be turned into an abrasive cream for cleaning tough surfaces or removing stubborn dirt from pots and stovetops. Just add a little dried ground coffee, fresh or used, to a small amount of detergent and mix before use. 7) Keep fleas off your dog Coffee grounds are an excellent flea repellent. Rub them on your dog’s fur after bathing, then brush after it has dried. The coffee smells much better than most common flea shampoos. 8) Clean drains Coffee grounds, diluted with water, can be poured into sink drains, bathtubs and toilets, to keep them clean and prevent bad odors from lingering. 9) Keep sugar and salt dry To stop humidity forming in sugar, put a few coffee beans in the bottom of the sugar bowl or other container. The trick works for salt too. 10) Remove scratches from furniture If you have any dark wood furniture or doors with unsightly scratches, try soaking a cloth or paintbrush in a cup of instant coffee. Use the beverage as a natural dye until the scratch takes on the same color as the rest of the wood. Article kindly provided by Slow Food is working with coffee producers in South America and Africa to protect traditional high quality coffee varieties at risk of extinction and improve the welfare of its producers. Find out more at Do you have any recipes for homemade products or green living tips that you’d like to share? Send them to us at with Good Enough to Eat in the subject line. Photo: Paola Viesi



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