coffee powder and beans

How to Use Coffee to Remove Odours

Is there anything more inviting than the comforting aroma of freshly brewed coffee?

That rich, earthy scent has the power to awaken our senses and set a positive tone for the day.

But what if we told you that coffee can do more than just give you that morning boost? It can also help banish unpleasant odours from your surroundings, naturally and effectively.

Discover how this eco-friendly and cost-effective solution can refresh your home and leave it smelling as inviting as a coffee shop on a crisp morning.


The Science Behind Coffee as an Odour Absorber

coffee powder on table

Have you ever wondered why the scent of a good cup of coffee can overpower other odours in the room?

It’s not just about the delightful fragrance but also the science behind it.

Coffee possesses unique properties that make it an effective odour absorber, and understanding the science behind it can help us appreciate its power.

First, let’s clarify a critical distinction. When we talk about coffee’s odour-removing abilities, we’re referring to “adsorption” rather than “absorption.” These terms might sound similar, but they involve different processes.

Absorption is when a substance (like a sponge) takes in another substance (like water) by incorporating it into its structure. Think of it as a sponge soaking up a spill.

Adsorption, on the other hand, is when molecules of a gas or liquid adhere to the surface of a solid or liquid. It’s like Velcro for molecules, where they stick to the surface without becoming part of it.

What’s special about coffee?

coffee grounds

Coffee is packed with a variety of chemical compounds, and it’s some of these compounds that make it an exceptional adsorbent for odours.

The magic ingredients in coffee are the chlorogenic acids, which are naturally occurring antioxidants.

These compounds are found on the surface of coffee grounds or beans and have a unique ability to attract and trap odour molecules.

When odour molecules come into contact with the coffee grounds, they stick to the surface due to the attractive forces between the coffee’s surface and the odour molecules. This is similar to how magnets attract metal objects, but on a molecular level.


Neutralising odours

The beauty of using coffee as an odour absorber lies in its ability to neutralise odours rather than just masking them.

Many commercial air fresheners cover up smells with fragrances, but coffee acts as a natural deodoriser by capturing the odour molecules, effectively removing them from the air.


Aroma enhancement

coffee aroma

Additionally, the delightful aroma of coffee itself can enhance your environment.

Even if it doesn’t eliminate all odours, the pleasant scent of freshly ground coffee can work wonders in creating a more inviting atmosphere.

In summary, the science behind coffee as an odour absorber is based on adsorption, where the unique compounds in coffee, such as chlorogenic acids, attract and trap odour molecules on the coffee’s surface.

So, if you’ve ever wondered why your morning coffee can chase away kitchen odours, now you know it’s more than just a delightful coincidence.


Choosing the Right Coffee

When it comes to using coffee as an odour absorber, selecting the right coffee is crucial. The type and form of coffee you choose can significantly impact its effectiveness in removing odours. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind:

Whole coffee beans vs pre-ground coffee

Whole coffee beans vs. pre-ground coffee

When choosing coffee for odour removal, it’s important to understand that whole coffee beans have less total surface area compared to pre-ground coffee.

The increased surface area of pre-ground coffee allows it to interact more readily with the air and, subsequently, odour molecules, making it a convenient choice.

If you don’t have access to pre-ground coffee, whole coffee beans can still work but might be slightly less effective.

The smaller surface area of the coffee beans can limit its odour-absorbing capabilities. However, it can still help freshen the air to some extent.


Aroma and strength

Consider the aroma and strength of the coffee you choose. Coffee comes in various flavours and aromas, so pick one that you find pleasant.

A coffee with a robust and inviting scent can contribute positively to the overall atmosphere while combating odours.


Avoid flavoured coffees

It’s best to steer clear of flavoured or artificially enhanced coffees. These varieties often contain additional scents or chemicals that can interfere with the odour-removing process or introduce unwanted fragrances.


Freshness matters

Always use fresh coffee. Stale or old coffee loses some of its odour-absorbing capabilities.

If your coffee has been sitting around for a while and no longer emits a strong aroma when brewed, it might not be as effective in absorbing odours.


Roast levels

different coffee roast levels

The roast level of coffee can also influence its odour-removing abilities. Dark roast coffee tends to have a more potent aroma, making it an excellent choice for absorbing odours. However, the roast level ultimately depends on your personal preference.


Preparing the Coffee Odour Remover

Now that you’ve selected the right coffee, it’s time to prepare it for use as an effective odour absorber. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to create your coffee odour remover:

Step 1: Gather your materials

coffee powder, beans, container and paper filter

You’ll need fresh coffee grounds or whole coffee beans, a small container or sachet, and a breathable fabric or paper filter.

The container you choose should have a lid or a way to close it while allowing air circulation.


Step 2: Measure the coffee

If you’re using coffee grounds, measure out the desired amount, usually around 1/2 to 1 cup. For whole beans, you can use the same quantity or adjust it based on your preference.

Place the coffee grounds or whole beans inside your chosen container. Leave some space at the top, as you’ll need room for air circulation.

Close the container with its lid or secure it tightly. Ensure that the container is airtight, except for the part where air can circulate through the breathable fabric or paper filter.


Step 3: Create airflow

This is crucial for the odour-absorbing process. Punch small holes in the container’s lid or use a breathable fabric secured with a rubber band to allow air to flow in and out.

The coffee needs to interact with the surrounding air to capture odour molecules effectively.


Step 4: Place the coffee odour remover

coffee powder inside the fridge

Position the container in the area where you want to remove odours. Common locations include refrigerators, shoe cabinets, wardrobes, or any space with persistent odours.

Keep in mind that the effectiveness of the coffee odour remover will be influenced by the container’s proximity to the source of odours.


Step 5: Monitor and replace

Check the coffee odour remover periodically. When it starts losing its effectiveness or its aroma diminishes, it’s time to recharge or replace the coffee inside.

To recharge, simply spread the used coffee grounds or beans on a baking sheet and let them air out for a day or two.

This process helps refresh the coffee’s odour-absorbing capabilities. After recharging, you can refill the container and continue to use it.


Where to Place Coffee Odour Absorbers

Choosing the right locations for your coffee odour absorbers is key to effectively eliminating unwanted scents and maintaining a fresh atmosphere.

Here are some common areas where you can place coffee odour absorbers:

Refrigerators and freezers

Refrigerators and freezers

One of the most popular uses for coffee odour absorbers is inside your refrigerator and freezer. The enclosed space allows the coffee to work its magic in capturing food odours and preventing them from permeating other items.


Shoe cabinets and closets

wardrobe with clothes and shoes

Shoes and clothing can develop odours over time. Placing coffee odour absorbers in shoe cabinets and closets can help keep your footwear and clothing smelling fresh.



coffee powder near stove

To combat lingering cooking smells, you can place a container of coffee grounds or beans near the stove, in the pantry, or inside the kitchen cabinets.


Pet areas

pet bedding

If you have pets, you’re familiar with the challenges of pet odours. Coffee odour absorbers can be positioned near litter boxes, pet bedding, or any areas where pet smells tend to accumulate.


Basements and garages

basement or garage at home

These spaces can sometimes develop musty or stale odours. Coffee odour absorbers can be an effective solution to keep these areas smelling clean.



kitchen bin

To prevent your rubbish bin from emitting unpleasant odours, place a coffee odour absorber nearby. It can help neutralise the smells and maintain a more pleasant environment in your kitchen.


Wardrobes and drawers

Keep your clothing and linens smelling fresh by adding coffee odour absorbers in your wardrobes, dresser drawers, or linen closets.



clean bathroom

Bathrooms can occasionally have lingering odours. Placing a container of coffee grounds or beans in your bathroom can help keep it smelling inviting.



If you’re dealing with car odours, a small container of coffee grounds or beans placed in your vehicle can be a natural and cost-effective solution.


Gym bags and sports equipment

gym bag or duffle bag

Exercise gear and gym bags can develop unpleasant odours over time. Coffee odour absorbers can help maintain freshness in these areas.

When placing coffee odour absorbers, it’s important to position them as close as possible to the source of the odours. Keep in mind that the effectiveness of the coffee absorbers may diminish over time, so be vigilant about checking and replacing them as needed.


Maintenance and Recharging

To keep your coffee odour absorbers working efficiently and maintaining a fresh and odour-free environment, it’s essential to perform periodic maintenance and know how to recharge them.

Here’s how to ensure the longevity and effectiveness of your coffee odour absorbers:

Inspect regularly

Regularly inspect your coffee odour absorbers to determine when they need maintenance. The frequency of this inspection may vary depending on the location and the intensity of odours.


Recharge used coffee

ground coffee on worktop

When you notice a decrease in the coffee’s aroma or its effectiveness in absorbing odours, it’s time to recharge the used coffee. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Spread the used coffee grounds or beans on a baking sheet in a thin layer.
  2. Place the baking sheet in a well-ventilated area.
  3. Allow the coffee to air out for a day or two, or until it regains its aromatic strength.

Over time, coffee loses its odour-absorbing capabilities even with recharging. If recharging doesn’t restore its effectiveness, it’s best to replace the old coffee with fresh coffee grounds or beans.


Maintain proper airflow

Ensure that the container or sachet you use for the coffee odour absorber maintains adequate airflow.

If the fabric or paper filter becomes clogged or less breathable over time, replace it to allow the coffee to interact with the surrounding air effectively.

Occasionally, clean the container to remove any residue that might hinder the odour-absorbing process. Use a gentle, mild detergent and rinse thoroughly, making sure the container is completely dry before refilling it with fresh coffee.


Label and track

If you use coffee odour absorbers in various locations, label and track their maintenance schedules. This will help you keep on top of when to recharge or replace the coffee in each container.


Potential Challenges and Precautions

While using coffee as an odour remover is a natural and effective solution, there are some potential challenges and precautions to keep in mind.

Attracting insects

The aroma of coffee can be enticing to insects, such as ants and fruit flies. To prevent this, make sure the coffee odour absorbers are sealed properly with breathable fabric or paper filters, and check them regularly for any signs of insect activity.


Spillage and stains

coffee stains

Be cautious when handling coffee grounds or beans, as they can leave stains on surfaces if spilled. Use a designated container for your coffee odour absorber and avoid placing it directly on delicate surfaces.


Recharging risks

When recharging used coffee grounds or beans, ensure that they are completely dry before refilling the container. Moist coffee can develop mould, which is not only unsightly but can also introduce an unpleasant odour.


Potential allergens

Be aware that some individuals may have allergies to coffee or coffee-related products. If you or someone in your household has a coffee allergy, consider alternative odour removal methods.


Overpowering fragrance

While coffee can be a delightful scent for many, it might not be to everyone’s taste. Ensure that the coffee odour absorbers do not create an overpowering coffee fragrance in your home, which could be undesirable for some.


Regular maintenance

Coffee odour absorbers require periodic maintenance, including recharging or replacing the coffee and maintaining proper airflow. Neglecting these tasks can reduce their effectiveness.


Adjusting placement

The effectiveness of coffee odour absorbers can vary depending on the location and intensity of odours. Be prepared to adjust their placement or experiment with different quantities if necessary.

Coffee’s natural odour-eliminating properties can be a valuable addition to your home cleaning and freshening routine when used thoughtfully.


FAQs on Using Coffee to Remove Odours

coffee beans and grounds

How does coffee effectively remove odours?

Coffee works by adsorbing odour molecules, trapping them on the surface of coffee grounds or beans.

The compounds in coffee, like chlorogenic acids, have an attractive force that captures and neutralises odour molecules.


Can I use used coffee grounds for odour removal?

Yes, you can use used coffee grounds for odour removal. Recharging used grounds by letting them air out can help refresh their odour-absorbing capabilities.


What types of containers are best for coffee odour absorbers?

coffee beans in glass container

Choose containers with lids or closures that maintain an airtight seal, except for an area with breathable fabric or paper filters to allow proper airflow.


Is there a specific coffee blend or type that works best for odour removal?

While any coffee can be used, darker roast coffee tends to have a stronger aroma, making it more effective for odour removal.


How often should I recharge or replace the coffee in my odour absorbers?

Recharge or replace the coffee when it starts to lose its aroma or effectiveness in removing odours, typically every few weeks to a couple of months.


Are there any specific precautions for using coffee odour absorbers in areas with high humidity?

In high humidity areas, monitor the coffee absorbers more frequently and ensure they remain dry. The humidity can affect their performance.


What should I do if my coffee odour absorber attracts insects?

To prevent attracting insects, make sure the coffee absorbers are properly sealed with breathable fabric or paper filters and check them regularly for any signs of insect activity.


Can I use coffee odour absorbers to eliminate cigarette smoke smells in my home?

man smoking cigarette

Yes, coffee odour absorbers can help reduce cigarette smoke odours. Place them strategically in the affected areas to neutralise the scent over time.


Is coffee odour removal safe for households with coffee allergies or sensitivities?

Individuals with coffee allergies or sensitivities should be cautious when using coffee odour absorbers. Consider alternative methods if coffee could trigger allergic reactions.


Can I use coffee to remove odours from outdoor spaces, like a musty shed or garage?

Yes, you can use coffee odour absorbers in outdoor spaces to combat musty odours. Just ensure they are protected from the elements and maintain proper airflow for effectiveness.



coffee grounds

Coffee isn’t just your morning pick-me-up; it’s a versatile and eco-friendly solution for combating unwanted odours throughout your home.

The science behind coffee as an odour absorber lies in its ability to adsorb odour molecules due to compounds like chlorogenic acids.

To make the most of coffee’s odour-removing potential, choose fresh ground coffee, and carefully prepare your coffee odour absorber in a container with proper airflow.

Place these in strategic locations like your fridge, shoe cabinet, or gym bag.

Maintenance is key—regularly check, recharge, or replace your coffee odour absorbers to ensure their effectiveness.

Beyond the basics, get creative by using coffee to freshen carpets, create homemade air fresheners, and tackle specific odours like pet, kitchen, or bathroom smells.

However, be mindful of potential challenges such as attracting insects, the risk of spillage and stains, and the overpowering aroma for some. And remember, while coffee can be a fantastic odour absorber, individual preferences vary.

With these tips and a little coffee magic, you can enjoy a more inviting and naturally fresh-smelling home, all while savouring the delightful aroma of your favourite brew.