Professional cleaners say you can clean your kitchen with coffee grounds – but how effective are they?

I tried to clean my kitchen with coffee grounds, and the results were mixed

A split image of a contemporary kitchen with a large marble kitchen island and a flat lay image of a plate of coffee grounds
(Image credit: Future / Kinga Krzeminska via Getty Images)

After deciding to make the switch to decaf midway through my last batch of coffee, I found myself saddled with a bag of coffee grounds that were no longer in use. But rather than tossing it in the trash, I wondered: 'What if I could use these grounds to clean my kitchen?'.

Stick with me here because there's logic to this brainwave. In an effort to live more sustainably, I've been seeking out ways to reuse and repurpose common household items. In the process, I've seen countless online bloggers touting the versatility of coffee grounds in the garden, from keeping bugs away to repelling mosquitoes. But what about its uses inside our homes? 

I tested my old coffee grounds in a series of common kitchen cleaning tasks, and I've shared my results below.

Can you clean a kitchen with coffee grounds?

'We all know the cleaning power of lemon juice and vinegar, but not many are aware that the nation’s favourite morning tipple also has a lot of benefits to help keep your kitchen clean,' says Nancy Emery, cleaning expert at Tap Warehouse. 'Reusing old coffee grounds from a coffee machine, percolator or cafetiere, or even a few teaspoons of instant coffee, is an affordable way to get a sparkling kitchen.'

1. Scrubbing pans

A range oven in a yellow rustic kitchen where food is being prepared

(Image credit: Future / Paul Massey)

'Trying to scrub away stubborn, burnt food stuck to your pots and pans is a real chore that not only takes up your time but can also damage the finish on your pans from abrasive sponges and scourers,' says Nancy Emery, cleaning expert. 

'Coffee is a natural degreaser due to its acidity levels, so try mixing 2-3 teaspoons of coffee grounds with warm, soapy water and scrub the pans with a soft sponge. This should make them clean in half the time.'

My verdict: 3/5

This hack worked for me, but it has its caveats. I used wet coffee grounds left over from my V60 coffee dripper, a little liquid dish soap, and a soft-bristled scouring brush to clean a dirty oven tray. It had a few stubborn burnt-on spots, which the slightly abrasive coffee grounds certainly seemed to help loosen.

However, it's worth noting that with enough elbow grease, you'll probably loosen those burnt-on spots anyway. Plus, this hack didn't perform as well as the tried-and-test baking soda and vinegar method of cleaning burnt pots and pans

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2. Banishing bad odors

Minimalist modern kitchen in muted colour palette

(Image credit: Roundhouse design)

'The strong aroma of coffee grounds can help neutralize unpleasant odors in your kitchen,' explains Mimi Nguyen, Founder of Cafely. 'I like to place small bowls of used grounds in areas like the refrigerator, freezer, or even in closets and drawers to absorb unwanted smells.'

My verdict: 3/5

This method definitely works, and if you like the smell of coffee, it might be worth a try. After cleaning the refrigerator, I placed a small bowl of coffee grounds on the top shelf, and within an hour or so, I noticed that the fridge smelled much more pleasant than before. 

This method works in a similar way to the baking soda hack for closets. But before you pop your old grounds into the fridge or freezer, you should ensure they are dried out first. Wet coffee grounds can become a breeding ground for mold, worsening bad smells. I also found this method was only a temporary fix, so if you want something longer-term, you might want to seek out the source of bad kitchen odors (such as a smelly dishwasher).

3. Cleaning surfaces

A modern kitchen with a vibrant green tile backsplash and two tall stools at a kitchen island

(Image credit: Brent Darby / Future)

'You can remove stubborn stains from tiles with coffee by mixing a few teaspoons with soapy water and applying directly to the stain with a soft sponge or cloth,' says Nancy Emery, cleaning expert. 

My verdict: 2/5

I tried this method to clean two separate kitchen surfaces: My tiled kitchen backsplash (specifically the grout) and my ceramic kitchen sink. Needless to say, I wasn't shocked to discover that this method didn't work very well on either surface. While the abrasive quality of the coffee grounds did loosen marks on the ceramic sink, I would caution against using it to clean tile grout, as it seemed to make my own stains worse. Instead, I would recommend The Pink Stuff from Amazon, combined with a stiff brush.

4. Reducing scratches in wooden surfaces

British standard kitchen wooden worktop

(Image credit: British Standard)

Lastly, I watched my fair share of Youtube and TikTok videos claiming that coffee grounds can be used to clean furniture and reduce the appearance of scratches on wood surfaces, notably wooden countertops and dining room tables. 

The method is straightforward: apply moist coffee grounds to the scratched area and allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes. Buff them away with a cotton rag, and once the area is fully dry, apply a layer of clear wood sealant such as Wood Master's Secret from Walmart. 

My verdict: 4/5

I tried this on my kitchen dresser and was impressed to see that it actually works! While it obviously won't remove the scratches, it does a good job of naturally staining the area, so you barely even notice them. My only caveat for this hack is that it won't work very well on light wood - so you're better off using a professional stain or lightly sanding and resealing the area to remove surface-level scratches. 


Can you pour coffee grounds down the sink?

'I generally advise against pouring coffee grounds directly down the sink or garbage disposal,' says Mimi Nguyen, Founder of Cafely. 'While small amounts may not cause immediate issues, larger quantities can potentially clog pipes or accumulate in the disposal over time. Instead, I recommend composting them or incorporating coffee grounds into your houseplant soil to enrich the nutrient content.'

In addition to using coffee grounds to clean your kitchen, experts suggest adding old coffee grounds to stove ash to make it easier to clean it up and prevent the ashy smell from permeating into your living spaces. 

Gabriella Dyson
Head of Solved

Gabriella is Head of Solved at Homes & Gardens. She is a DIY enthusiast and a lover of all things interior design, often found antiquing or browsing the aisles of her local hardware store. 

She has a particular passion for historic buildings and is in the process of renovating a Victorian coachhouse in the British countryside. 

For much of the past decade, Gabriella has worked as a freelance writer, crafting copy for national publications and renowned homeware brands. Most recently, she worked on Homebuilding & Renovating Magazine, focusing on case studies for the magazine and website, as well as writing features about issues surrounding historic and listed building projects.