If you're a fellow French press coffee lover like us, you know that magical feeling when you wake up to that first sip of bold, aromatic coffee. So satisfying!
But then comes the not-so-fun part afterward—figuring out how to get rid of those wet, messy grounds. We totally get the struggle. Scooping them out and dumping them in the trash or down the drain just feels...wrong.
Well, guess what? There are actually some super easy and eco-friendly ways to give those grounds new life instead of sending them off to a landfill.
Who would've thought our morning ritual could make us feel like environmental superheroes?
Below we share the 7 best methods we've discovered for repurposing used coffee grounds from your French press. They'll make your mornings greener, keep your home and garden thriving, and give you that feel-good glow of treading more lightly on the planet.
After Reading this Article, You Will Learn...
The secret first step for separating wet grounds from liquid
Whether or not used grounds will harm your drain
How composting coffee grounds benefits your garden and deters pests naturally
Clever ways to re-use the grounds around the house in case you don’t have a garden
With a little creativity, you'll discover just how easy it is to keep your morning ritual from harming the planet. Your garden, home, and conscience will thank you!
Let's get to it…
The Short Answer — How to Dispose of Coffee Grounds from French Press
If you don’t like the idea of tossing your used grounds down the drain (and—trust us—don’t), repurposing your coffee leftovers is much easier than you might think!
For the Gardeners…
The easiest thing to do is simply sprinkle the used coffee grounds directly onto the soil around your plants. The grounds act as a gentle fertilizer, releasing nutrients to nourish your plants and stimulate growth. It's an effortless way to repurpose grounds to feed your garden!
For the Around-the-Housers…
If you don't have a garden, the simplest approach is to use the grounds as a natural odor neutralizer around your home.
Place some dried used grounds in a small bowl and set it in any problem area like the fridge, bathroom, gym bag, or trash can. The grounds will soak up the odors and leave behind a pleasant coffee aroma instead.
With these two simple tricks, all coffee lovers can easily repurpose their French press grounds to benefit their homes and gardens with barely any time or effort involved.
Your plants, household, and the planet will thank you. For more details and additional ideas, read on…
First Step: Separate Grounds from Water
Before doing anything else, it's ideal to separate the wet grounds from any excess liquid in your French press.
This prevents them from going down the drain with the liquid (which we don’t want to happen).
Simply add about a cup of water to your used grounds, put the plunger back in, and swirl everything around. This will loosen the grounds and get them unstuck from the bottom of your press.
Then pour the slurry through a fine mesh strainer or filter bag in your sink. The grounds will collect in the strainer or bag while the water drains away.
Tip: Even for medium-coarse ground coffee, the holes in those standard kitchen colanders are just a bit too big, and the grounds go right through—so stick to something with a tight weave.
It's a quick, mess-free way to get that first step done and prevent the grounds for going down the drain (more on that later).
Then, you’ll want to give your press a good scrub: How To Clean Your French Press Next, let’s look at alternative ways to use and dispose of our French press coffee grounds.
For the Gardeners…
1. Compost Them
Composting those grounds is hands-down one of the best things you can do.
Coffee grounds are rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and other nutrients that are like a magical elixir for compost piles.
They help accelerate the composting process, balance out carbon-rich materials like leaves and paper, and produce gorgeous, rich compost for your garden. It's a win-win!
Coffee Composting Tips:
- Add grounds to your existing compost pile or start one just for coffee grounds.
- Mix in some brown matter like dried leaves to balance the nitrogen.
- Keep compost moist and aerated for fastest breakdown.
- In 3-4 months, you'll have gorgeous compost for your plants!
2. Feed Your Worms
If you have a worm composting bin, coffee grounds are like candy for your wiggly friends!
Worms love munching on the grounds for an energy and nutrient boost. Just bury the grounds under their bedding and let the worms work their magic. The grounds will break down rapidly with the help of the worms.
Be sure to feed worms in moderation to prevent overheating their bin. But used in balance, the grounds give your worms a healthy treat!
3. Fertilize Your Garden (lazy option)
If have plants but you don't have access or time to compost, you can still put those grounds to good use by sprinkling them directly onto the soil around your plants. The nutrients will help nourish your plants and stimulate growth.
Coffee grounds are especially beneficial for plants that love acidic soil, like azaleas, blueberries, hydrangeas, and more.
Just lightly scratch the grounds into the top few inches of soil. About a 1⁄4 inch layer is perfect. You can use wet or dried grounds. Just be sure not to overload any one area to prevent nitrogen overloading.
Your plants will thank you!
4. Deter Pests Naturally
Coffee grounds can actually help keep pests away from your garden too. Ants, slugs, and snails dislike the strong aroma of coffee. Sprinkle fresh grounds around plants, garden edges and anywhere else you see signs of these pests.
The coarse texture of the grounds also deters crawling insects. Over time, rain will dissolve the grounds, so you'll need to reapply every few weeks. But it's a safe, natural solution.
Used coffee grounds can also be turned into a natural insecticide spray to help deter pests.
- Simply mix 1 cup of leftover dried grounds with 2 cups of water and let sit overnight.
- Strain the grounds and add the leftover coffee liquid to a spray bottle.
- Spritz around garden beds and anywhere else pests are a problem.
- Reapply after rain.
The caffeine and oils in the coffee are thought to repel insects. While not as potent as commercial pesticides, it's an organic option to try.
As always, test in a small area first to ensure the coffee spray won't damage plants. And remember it may need reapplying often. But it provides a gentle, natural deterrent for common garden pests.
For the Around-the-Housers…
5. Deodorize Your Home (lazy option)
That strong coffee aroma can also absorb and neutralize tough odors around your home. Grounds are great for de-stinking trash cans, gym bags, bathrooms, your fridge, and more.
Place some used dried grounds in a small bowl or lidless jar and set in the problem area for a day or two. The grounds will soak up the odor and leave a nice coffee scent instead. Change the grounds regularly as they absorb odors.
It's an easy, natural air freshener.
“We’ve been using old coffee grounds as natural deodorizers in our fridge and under our sink for years. It seems to work as well as baking soda, with the extra benefit of a pleasant light coffee odor at the beginning. After a few weeks, when we have enough extra grounds to replace these natural odor eaters, we add the used grounds to our food waste for the town compost collection.”
6. Make a Fire Starter
Used dried coffee grounds are highly flammable and make excellent fire starters for your fireplace, wood stove, or campfire—great for coffee lovers who go camping.
Simply form some dry grounds into a log shape, wrap with newspaper or dryer lint, and light with a match to start your fire. The grounds help the fire catch quickly. You can also sprinkle some on top of logs to ignite the fire faster. It's a handy fire hack for any coffee lover.
7. Scrub Away
The abrasive texture of coffee grounds also makes them great for scrubbing away grease, grime, food stains, and more.
Wet the grounds and use them to gently scour pots, pans, baking sheets, dishes, countertops, appliances, and any other area that needs some elbow grease. The grounds are safe and effective.
While used coffee grounds can be a great natural scrub for many surfaces, there are some items you'll want to avoid scrubbing to prevent staining or damage:
- Natural stone surfaces like marble, granite, and limestone—the acidity in the grounds can etch and stain the porous stone.
- Grout between tiles—coffee can stain and discolor grout. Use a gentler grout brush instead.
- Wood furniture—the grounds may scratch the finish or leave behind a stain.
- Leather goods—coffee could stain and discolor leather over time.
- Silks, wools, and other delicates—the coarse grounds could damage delicate fabrics.
When in doubt, first test scrubbing with grounds on a small hidden area to check for any damage or staining. For extra delicate surfaces like natural stone and leather, it's safest to avoid scrubbing with coffee grounds entirely.
With some care, your grounds can tackle most other scrubbing tasks without leaving behind any stubborn stains.
Bonus, Skin Scrub
Coffee grounds aren’t just good for scrubbing around the house—they’re good for your skin: You can also make a coffee ground body scrub by mixing with coconut oil. Recipes commonly include sugar and essential oils or extracts to play with the scent.
So, you can clean and exfoliate your skin the natural way with invigorating homemade scrubs—like this one.
The Key Is Keeping French Press Grounds Out of Landfills and Plumbing
As you can see, there are so many better places for those grounds to go than the trash can headed to a landfill. The key is creativity and an eco-conscious mindset.
With a little thought, you can find a purpose for every batch of used grounds from your French press.
Whether it's feeding plants, deodorizing, exfoliating, or jumpstarting fires, put those grounds to use.
You'll feel good knowing your morning ritual is benefiting the planet in some small way. And your garden, home, and skin will reap the rewards too. It's a win-win all around!
Why It’s So Important to Keep Grounds Out of Your Sinks and Toilets
It's crucial to keep used coffee grounds out of sinks, drains, and toilets.
While it may seem convenient to rinse grounds down the drain, over time they can accumulate and lead to clogged pipes, blocked drains, and plumbing issues.
The grounds contain oils that can mix with grease in pipes and create stubborn blockages. This can cause costly repairs, damage plumbing systems, and in extreme cases flood homes.
While a few grounds probably won't hurt, it's better to avoid putting them down drains as much as possible. Even small amounts over time can build up. And grounds should never be flushed down toilets, which can easily clog.
Instead, use the ideas above. You can keep both your plumbing and the planet happy while still enjoying your French press coffee.
Q: Will Putting Wet Grounds Down the Drain Clog my Pipes?
A: Yes, it's best to avoid putting any grounds down sinks or drains as they can accumulate over time and cause clogged pipes or drains. Always separate wet grounds from liquid first.
Q: Can I Just Throw the Wet Grounds in the Trash Instead?
A: You can, but composting them is better for the environment, and if you don’t have a compost system, there are other creative uses instead of sending them to the landfill. See above!
Q: Do I need a Compost Pile to Use my Grounds
A: No, you can directly apply used grounds as fertilizer around plants in your garden. Just lightly work them into the soil.
Q: What if I Don't Have Houseplants or a Garden?
A: You can still use the grounds to deodorize smelly areas around your home by placing some dried grounds in a small bowl. Change them regularly.
Q: Is There Anything I Shouldn't Scrub with Used Grounds?
A: Avoid using them on natural stone, grout, wood, leather, and delicate fabrics as the grounds may stain or scratch these surfaces. Test scrub on a small hidden area first.
Carrillo, E. (2010, October 17). How to Dispose of French Press Coffee Grounds | ehow. eHow. Retrieved December 10, 2023, from https://www.ehow.com/how_6968301_dispose-french-press-coffee-grounds.html
Disposing of coffee grounds from French Press? : r/Coffee. (2018, December 26). Reddit. Retrieved December 10, 2023, from https://www.reddit.com/r/Coffee/comments/a9of6r/disposing_of_coffee_grounds_from_french_press/
Harrison, A. (2023, March 2). …. …. - YouTube. Retrieved December 10, 2023, from https://theappbarista.com/blog/how-to-dispose-french-press-coffee-grounds