Coffee Grounds Repel Bugs, coffee grounds keep bugs

Do Coffee Grounds Keep Bugs Away? YES – Here’s How!

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While I’ve often sprinkled them around my plants, hoping to ward off unwanted critters, it’s essential to delve deeper into whether coffee grounds really deter bugs. The relationship between these familiar kitchen leftovers and their repellant properties is intriguing and deserves a closer look. 

Used coffee grounds are more than just trash. They help keep bugs away! In this blog, I’ll explain how coffee grounds are a natural way to stop insects. Whether it’s in your garden or home, coffee leftovers are a secret weapon against those pesky bugs. So, let’s dive into the world of coffee grounds and their power to keep creepy crawlers at bay. 

Do Coffee Grounds Keep Bugs Away?

Yes, coffee grounds repel bugs. They can be used to repel mosquitoes, ants, wasps, bees, and other insects. Many insects, with their highly sensitive antennae, are prevented by the rich aroma of coffee grounds. As a result, bugs are often repelled by areas where coffee grounds are spread due to their dislike of its strong scent. 

How Do Coffee Grounds Work To Repel Bugs?


Coffee grounds have been a popular household item often used as a natural pest deterrent. Their distinct aroma and chemical composition make them unappealing to many bugs. Here’s a more detailed look into their repellent properties:

  1. Pungent Aroma: The pronounced aroma of coffee is not a favorite of many insects. This strong scent is a deterrent, making it unattractive for various pests. When coffee grounds are burned, they release a more intense aroma, further enhancing their ability to repel pests.
  2. Acidity: Fresh coffee grounds are slightly acidic, with a pH level around 6.5. Certain insects, like snails and slugs, prefer alkaline environments. The acidity of coffee grounds deters these pests by creating an unfavorable environment for them. 
  3. Multipurpose Repellent: Beyond its notable caffeine kick, coffee is also a deterrent for numerous insects due to its chemical compounds. The inherent compounds in coffee grounds, such as caffeine and diterpenes, are uninviting to many bugs, making them avoid areas where these grounds are spread.
  4. Particular Bug Opponents: There are specific insects, such as ants, fruit flies, and certain beetles, which particularly dislike and avoid the presence of coffee grounds. 
  5. Potential Harm to Pests: While effective as a repellent, coffee grounds can harm specific bugs. If the aim is to solely repel without harm, it’s essential to use them judiciously.


It’s important to note that the effectiveness of coffee grounds as a bug repellent can vary depending on the type of pest and specific circumstances. For instance:

  • Some anecdotal evidence suggests that coffee grounds can help repel ants and snails from garden areas.
  • Coffee grounds may be used as a barrier to prevent crawling pests like slugs and snails from reaching plants.
  • The impact of coffee grounds on soil nutrient levels varies based on the existing soil composition and the specific plants being grown.

Suggested Reading: 9 Benefits of Coffee | Evidence from Medical Studies

What Kind of Coffee to Use to Repel Bugs?

decaf dark coffee

You don’t need fresh coffee grounds to deter bugs in your home or garden. Coffee grounds, whether from a regular or decaf brew, will do the trick.

If you’re not a coffee drinker, you can get coffee grounds from the local garden since they use coffee grounds to repel bugs. Many people already incorporate coffee grounds into their soil, and several coffee shops will happily give them away for free upon request.

What Kind of Pests do Coffee Grounds Repel?

Coffee grounds are known to deter various pests due to their distinct aroma. Here are some insects that are typically repelled by the scent:

  1. Slugs: Soft-bodied creatures that glide along, often leaving a slimy trail behind. They can damage plants by eating their leaves.
  2. Wasps: Unlike bees, wasps can be more aggressive and sting multiple times. They are drawn to sweet foods and can be a nuisance during outdoor activities.
  3. Ants: Small social insects that can invade homes in search of food. While some species are harmless, others, like fire ants, can deliver painful stings. They will not prefer an environment with coffee grounds.
  4. Snails: Like slugs, snails have a soft body but carry a spiral shell on their back. They can also harm plants by feeding on their parts. Some basic testing has shown that snails are stay far away frim coffee grounds.

Is it Necessary to Burn The Coffee Grounds Before Using Them as a Repellant?

Roasting or burning coffee grounds is not mandatory as a bug repellent, but it will enhance the effectiveness. Fresh or used coffee grounds already have a distinct aroma that many pests find unappealing. Simply spreading them in specific areas or mixing them into the soil can deter various insects. 

However, burning the grounds intensifies the aroma, releasing a more potent scent that could repel a broader range of pests. The smoky, pungent odor from the burning process can be a more robust deterrent, especially in open spaces where the aroma of just the grounds might disperse quickly. 

Therefore, if you’re using coffee grounds indoors or in smaller garden areas, burning might not be necessary, and simply placing the grounds might suffice. 

Pouring coffee grounds

How To Burn The Coffee Grounds To Use As Bug Repellants?

Here’s how you burn your coffee grounds to use them as a pest repellant:

  • Begin with USED, dry coffee grounds. Instead of using fresh ones, place the settings straight from your coffee machine on an aluminum tray or skillet. Let them sit in a cool, dry place until entirely dry.
  • Once dry, set them outside on a flat surface, ensuring the area is safe from pets and kids.
  • To burn them, treat them as you would incense. Add a few drops of lighter fluid to the grounds — ensuring they aren’t drenched. This prevents them from burning too fast. Introducing fresh bay leaves can boost the repellency effect.
  • Position yourself upwind to effectively disperse the aroma.
  • For a smoldering effect, allow the coffee grounds to emit smoke. If you aim for prolonged smoldering, dampen a cloth and place it over the lit grounds. This will let them smoke more without fully burning.

How Can I Use Coffee Grounds to Repel Bugs?

Utilizing coffee grounds as a bug repellent has become increasingly popular, but knowing how to apply them can make a difference. Here’s how to go about it:

  • Sprinkle a layer of coffee grounds, about half to 1 inch thick, over your garden soil to deter bugs.
  • Distribute the coffee grounds evenly around the stems of potted plants.
  • If areas have a high concentration of bug activity, apply an extra layer of grounds for added protection.
  • Surround bird feeders with coffee grounds to prevent bugs from approaching.
  • Refresh the coffee grounds weekly or after events like heavy rain or wind to ensure continued effectiveness.
  • You can add coffee grounds to compost, but use them in moderation to avoid upsetting the compost’s pH balance.
  • Be cautious not to lay the grounds too thickly in one spot to prevent mold growth, which could damage plants.
  • For households with pets, ensure they don’t consume the coffee grounds, which could lead to health issues.

However, there are different ways to use coffee grounds to repel flying insects such as mosquitoes and bees. For example, burning coffee grounds, similar to how you’d light incense, can deter mosquitoes, bees, and wasps because they’re repelled by the aroma of the smoke.

For this purpose, you can burn the coffee grounds in a wood burner. There are even coffee logs of compressed coffee grounds designed for use in wood-burning stoves, multi-fuel stoves, and biomass boilers. When dried, these coffee grounds are believed to burn hotter and longer than traditional wooden logs while releasing a mild fragrance.

Ground coffee in a box

Other Benefits of Using Coffee Grounds 

Now that you know how to apply coffee grounds in your garden or yard to repel bugs, it is time to learn why you should use coffee as a deterrent.

Here are some of the many benefits of why coffee is an excellent choice for your garden: 

Enriched Compost

Freshly used coffee grounds aren’t just a bug repellent. They are also a valuable addition to compost. Coffee grounds contribute about 2-3% nitrogen content. They aren’t acidic since the water-soluble nature of coffee removes most of the acid. 

In fact, used coffee grounds lean towards a neutral pH, around 6.5-6.8, which promotes a healthy and fertile garden soil.

Pleasant Aroma

The distinctive scent of coffee grounds is often considered pleasing, making it a more desirable bug-repellent option. 

Many individuals prefer the subtle fragrance of coffee over other bug-repelling methods, ensuring that there are minimal chances of complaints about unpleasant odors from neighbors.

Versatile Deterrent

Beyond repelling bugs, coffee grounds can deter other unwelcome guests like rodents, slugs and larger pests like deer. This multifunctionality enhances their appeal as an all-around natural repellent.

Tasty Recipe: How To Make Coffee With Espresso Machine?

Final Thoughts

While there are various strategies to deter bugs from your garden, not every method might suit every situation. Although coffee grounds are cost-effective and readily available, their deterrent effect might be temporary, and covering vast areas can pose a challenge. Nonetheless, always adhere to our guidelines for safe and efficient application. Best of luck!

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