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Can You Reuse Coffee Grounds While Camping?

closeup detail of used Coffee grounds in wooden spoon with coffee grounds in a wooden bowl in background
Photo credit: Shutterstock

The Many Uses Of Coffee Grounds While Camping

We love our coffee. According to a 2021 survey published by Statista, coffee is the most consumed beverage in the US. And according to Statistics Canada, Canadians drink more coffee than any other beverage, with the exception of water. 

There are an awful lot of coffee beans being used throughout North America. We don’t stop drinking coffee when we are camping either. As a matter of fact, one of the simple joys of camping in our RV is waking up to the amazing aroma of coffee throughout the RV. 

However, every time we brew coffee, we are left with the task of discarding the coffee grounds. Thrown into the garbage, used coffee grounds can wind up producing a lot of methane in landfills. At home, we could put them to work to make compost. On the road or camping in the RV, this isn’t always possible. 

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So, what can be done with coffee grounds when we’re camping? Can you reuse coffee grounds when you’re in an RV? Let’s have a look!

What NOT to do with coffee grounds when you camp

Don’t dump coffee grounds into your RV sink or toilet

Used coffee grounds should never be dumped down the RV kitchen sink or into the toilet. RV holding tanks are just not meant to handle coffee grounds and they won’t dissolve. Instead, they’ll create a sludgy mess in the bottom of your holding tank. While trace amounts can move through your tanks, coffee grounds tend to build up and cause blockages in your RV sewage system. 

Don’t dump coffee grounds around the campsite

In the natural environment where we camp, everything exists in a perfect balance. Plants, insects, and animals all thrive within that balance. Taking anything from the environment or adding anything to it has a ripple effect that can throw the natural balance out of whack. 

Tossing out coffee grounds in the area where you are camped can have a detrimental effect to the balance of the nearby ecosystem. Leaving coffee grounds might seem innocuous, but over time it can harm the environment we love and cherish. Take nothing, leave nothing is the camper’s credo, and that applies to coffee grounds too.

How to reuse coffee grounds when you’re camping

1. Make really weak, watery coffee

While the majority of coffee lovers enjoy the robust flavor of a good, strong brew, there are people who enjoy weak coffee that barely has any coffee flavor. If this is you, you can save and reuse coffee grounds to make a more bland beverage. 

2. Offer used coffee grounds to seasonal RVers with flowers or gardens

Coffee grounds are very useful in the garden because they contain minerals that plants need to grow— nitrogen, calcium, potassium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, and chromium. 

Seasonal RVers in your campground might appreciate your saved coffee grounds to help make their flowers bloom. 

3. Make them into compost in a countertop composter

Composting coffee grounds by traditional means is not practical for RV life. However, a countertop composter can turn kitchen waste (including coffee grounds) into a useful soil amendment in a matter of hours. 

Until recently, countertop composters have been nothing more than a dehydrator that uses a paddle to stir the food waste until it’s dry. They have evolved to the point where some composters are able to compost kitchen waste overnight. 

While there are now many food waste composters, one of the most recent and promising countertop composters is Pela’s Lomi Composter. Of course, once you have made compost with your coffee grounds, you should always take it home (or to an avid gardener).

4. Reuse coffee grounds in an invigorating homemade coffee facial scrub

  • 1/2 cup coffee grounds
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Mix the ingredients together and gently massage the scrub mixture onto your face. Wait five minutes, and rinse with warm water. Repeat every seven to ten days.

5. Make an exfoliating hand and body scrub

Coffee is an excellent natural exfoliant for skin. You can reuse coffee grounds to make an exfoliating body scrub. Here is a recipe for a body scrub that will leave your skin silky and soft:


  • 1/4 cup coffee grounds
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

Add just enough lemon juice to make a thick paste.

Use every seven to ten days in the shower. Gently rub on skin to remove dead skin cells. Rub on feet and heels to help remove dry skin. Rinse well.

coffee grounds body scrub in a wooden bowl - feature image for reuse coffee grounds
Photo credit: Shutterstock

6. Reuse coffee grounds as a gentle scalp exfoliant

Coffee grounds can also be employed as a scalp exfoliant. Because coffee can stain lighter hair colors, this tip is best for brown, red, gray, or darker hair colors.

Simply make a paste by mixing a few tablespoons of coffee grounds with shampoo, then apply the mixture, gently massaging it onto your scalp.

7. Hide scratches in dark wood

Rubbing moist coffee grounds into scratches on dark wood can help to disguise them and minimize their appearance.

8. Get rid of onion or garlic smells on your hands

Coffee grounds can make onion or garlic smells on your hands disappear like magic. If you’ve been cutting lots of onions, or you’ve got the scent of garlic embedded in your fingers, try rubbing coffee grounds on your hands and fingers.

Get more tips from RVers

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