Making Use of The Old… Coffee Grounds As An Exfoliator.
Author: Anna Newell Jones

Last night I was flipping through the September issue of Glamour magazine. I borrowed it from the gym. I feel okay about borrowing magazines from the gym because I always bring them back and if I happen to have some old magazines I bring those back with the original ones I borrowed. It’s kind of like the library but without the official “check-it out” thing. Can you tell I feel kind of bad about this because here this is the 4th sentence about it.

Hey, I bring ’em back!

Back to the story. So, last night I was flipping through the magazine and saw this little tip that said, “… try waking up your face with a scrub of your just used coffee grounds. It’s like beauty recycling!”

It always seems like a waste to just throw away those grounds. It’s like, surely there MUST be something to do with them! Turns out there is A LOT that can be done with them AND caffeine is good for the skin too!

Double win.

There used to be a lady on my bus that convinced Starbucks to give her all of their grounds from the days brewing (that’s a ton). She picked them up at the end of the day, toting them home with her to be used later on in her garden (apparently they’re good for composting and fertilizer too). The grounds were transported in doubled-up brown paper bags. Paper bags are good, but not when wet things are involved. So, the grounds would leak their remaining moistness onto the floor of the bus. The trail of coffee juice moved as the bus moved, wiggled as the bus wiggled, and it touched peoples shoes.

Crazy stuff always happens on the bus. Didn’t you know!?

This morning I decided I was going to utilize the magazine tip, and into action it went.


How To Make a Coffee-Ground Exfoliator… 

1. Brew up the coffee, and then drink it. Easy, right.

2. Drain the remaining liquid out of the grounds as best as possible, and scoop them into a bowl.

3. Go somewhere that you can make a mess.

4. Spread it all over your face (avoiding your eye area). Keep spreading it around because that’s the grounds doing their exfoliating thing. Don’t press too hard. Be sure to use gentle movements.

5. This is when it started to itch… so don’t leave it on too long. Rinse it off with warm water.

6. Fresh faced, and ignoring the mess in the bathroom.

It seems to have worked really well, and I feel good about making use of something I would have otherwise tossed. Next time though, I will probably do this while taking a shower because it’s VERY messy, and the little coffee bits get everywhere. Also, it would be good to have a thorough rinse after because I’ve been getting whiffs of myself all day long, and I smell like an elderly coffee lovers mouth.

My perfume of the day is Coffee Breath.


Have you found a new use for something that many people toss? Have you ever used coffee grounds as an exfloiator? If so, do you have any tips for me for next time?


in DIY, Food, Groceries, & Recipes, Make Do & Mend, Practical Solutions, Take Action!, Things To Do


  1. Aaron Jones // November 18, 2011

    O' no. Did all those coffee grounds in the bathroom sink get washed down our easily cloggable sink? This has the potential to be as bad as the dental floss down the toilet.

  2. Anna Newell Jones // November 18, 2011

    Don't get mad… ?

  3. Aaron Jones // November 18, 2011

    I'd rather deal with coffee grounds, than poo.

  4. Kaz // November 18, 2011

    I suggest also adding your favorite oil, mine is aveda. When washing the coffee grounds off, it leaves your skin silky smooth and moisturized!

  5. Tasmanian Minimalist // November 19, 2011

    Might I also mention coffee is an excellent item for use with enemas…but don't go there sister !

  6. Anna Newell Jones // November 19, 2011

    That's a good idea!

  7. Anna Newell Jones // November 19, 2011

    I'll leave that for others to test

  8. edith // December 1, 2011

    I tried it and it worked! I love it! Also, I read somewhere that you can use leftover coffee to make your hair shiny. Just apply it to your dry hair, leave it for 20 min and then… rinse.

  9. Anna Newell Jones // December 1, 2011

    Hi Edith, Gonna have to try that one next!

  10. Sophie // December 9, 2011

    I saw this on a Dr. Oz segment. I do this about once a week, in the shower too, but I exfoliate my entire body! But be careful bc the mess could be much bigger. I just hose down everything with my hand shower wand afterwards. To avoid the coffee smell, I rinse my body with a show gel.

  11. Anna Newell Jones // December 9, 2011

    Hey Sophie, I like the full body scrub idea with the grounds. Do they clog up your drains? Mine ran a little slow after I tried this experiment.

  12. Francesca // December 9, 2011

    I would love to know about the drain comment… I live in an apartment… and don't want to mess my neighbors or my own drain. Sophie, please come back and tell us!

  13. Anna Newell Jones // December 11, 2011

    I poured some Draino down my drains after & it seemed to help. Also, I scooped as many of the grounds up from the sink as possible with a paper towel and put those in the trash to try to minimize the amount of grounds that went down the drain. Besides the initial slow running drain right after it hasn't been an issue.

  14. Glenn // December 28, 2011

    It's nice to see reuse in action – but using Draino probably overcomes any benefit to reuse of coffee grounds that go down the drain. Sodium hydroxide is um, dangerous since it's a known corrosive – plus its cost is much more than coffee grounds, it dissolves/rusts piping (which costs more than coffee grounds), and wikipedia shows a nice chemical burn claimed to be caused by sodium hydroxide.

    Also, any one here have their hair chemically straightened?

    If you want to use coffee grounds to grind (pun intended) your pores, cover your drain with a swatch of pantyhose. Then you can reuse two product and spend less.

  15. Anna Newell Jones // December 28, 2011

    That's a good idea Glenn

  16. Pat // March 25, 2012

    I have never used coffee grounds on my face because I thought it would be too harsh. However, I have used them to exfoliate my hands in the kitchen sink and then the grounds go down into the garbage disposal.

  17. Anna Newell Jones // March 25, 2012

    I like the idea of using coffee grounds as a hand exfoliator. It was rough on my face so I made sure to rub very gently.

  18. Tina // April 30, 2012

    I been using it on my body n works phenominal, i Looove how soft my skin feels n knowing the dead skin cells r gone… I do this everyother day for the past year amazing

  19. Grey // May 7, 2012

    I know some great exfoliators and skin toners, including rolled oats, brown sugar, potatoes, tomatoes, milk powder, seasalt, table salt, avocados, ACV or white vinegar, egg whites, baking soda, moringa powder, the list of inexpensive edible things you normally put on your plate but could put on your face or skin is endless. I just recently heard of coffee grounds as one of them though :) I like to mix the coffee grounds with something else, so the smell won't be as strong. :) Great post too. Thanks!

    • Anna Newell Jones // February 8, 2013

      Thanks for mentioning all those other options! It’s so amazing how many foods can have dual purposes!

  20. Young Wifey // July 20, 2012

    I use coffee ground mixed with baby oil as a softening body scrub once a week. It can make the shower slippery if you don't rinse well.

    • Anna Newell Jones // February 8, 2013

      I’ve run into that problem with the baby oil too! Supppper slippery!

  21. Maureen // February 8, 2013

    On a side note the coffee grounds make a good temporary cellulite cream. If you are going to be wearing a skirt or going to the beach I spread them on the cellulite area and wrap plastic wrap around it. Pause and look how silly you look- smile. Leave them on for a while like 20- 30 minutes if you can. Then rinse off in the shower. Your skin is temporarily tightened from the caffeine and so cellulite is less noticeable. You can thank me when you are getting whistled at on the beach ;)

    • Anna Newell Jones // February 8, 2013

      Love this idea! If I get beach whistles I’ll be like, “It’s all MAUREEN. ALL MAUREEN!” ;)

  22. Charlene // March 2, 2013

    A question about the caffeine: does it get absorbed into your skin and into your blood stream? If so, then would decaffeinated coffee work as easily as the exfoliator (though not the cellulite treatment)?

    • Anna Newell Jones // March 21, 2013

      You know, that’s a really good question and I have no idea what the answer to it is. I think the de-caf could def work as the exfoliator since it’s the consistency of the grounds that would do the exfoliating.

  23. KATE // March 12, 2013

    Maybe best to do over kitchen sink?? Would wash down much better than bathroom sink or shower, i think! Going to try tonight!!

    • Anna Newell Jones // March 21, 2013

      Yeah, that could be better. When I do it again I’m going to put something in to cover the tub (like maybe scrap fabric or an old sheet) so it doesn’t cause such a mess and then go shake it out outside or something.

      • Taza // April 14, 2013

        Love this blog, and got here due to your awesome “spring cleaning” graphic….so i have to say, why not use baking soda/vinegar in your drain vs. Drano? I realize the Drano post was a long time ago so perhaps you’ve already made this switch! :)

        • Anna Newell Jones // April 17, 2013

          Hah! Yep, the spring cleaning post came years after this one. Definitely making the switch!;)

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