Do Coffee Grounds Keep Ants Away?

Ants can sometimes prove to be a problem in the garden and will often eat human food and leftovers. But what about coffee, do coffee grounds keep ants away? Or is coffee a smell they enjoy?

Yes, you can use coffee grounds to keep ants away as they often become confused by the unusual scent of coffee.

Do Coffee Grounds Deter Ants?

Ants do not appear to like coffee grounds and are confused and repelled by the scent. Ants are very susceptible to scents and are therefore easily confused by the smell and presence of coffee.

This is great news because you do not need to use insect sprays that contain harmful chemicals that are bad for the environment to repel ants. You can simply use coffee grounds instead. 

Coffee grounds may work to deter ants but they won’t kill off ants. In fact, some acts actually like the smell and the taste of coffee. If you sprinkle coffee on the ground, you may find that some worker ants pick it up and carry it away. 

However, what coffee does is confuse those worker ants who will lose their scent trail. 

How to Repel Ants with Coffee Grounds

Now that we know coffee grounds can repel ants, let’s look at how we can actually use them in the garden.

Put used grounds around the base of the soil of plants infested by ants. The strong smell will deter them from the area, and it will also confuse them.

Ants will form and leave scent trails to spots of food for other ants to follow. However, the strong smell of the coffee will disrupt these scent trails, which means that ants cannot successfully follow from their nest to the source of food. 

If you do put coffee grounds outside, spritz them with a small amount of water every few days. This will help to keep them fresh and keep the smell more potent.

Coffee grounds actually provide a multitude of benefits. They’re nitrogen-rich which feeds the soil and can encourage a lot of plants to grow stronger. Coffee grounds also work well for repelling other common garden pests including your neighbour’s cat and slimy slugs

Do Unused Coffee Grounds Work?

Surprisingly, even though the smell of used grounds repel ants, they actually like and will even eat unbrewed grounds.

The reason for this is not clear, but it is known that ants are opportunistic and will eat whatever they can find.

We can infer that because unbrewed grounds don’t smell as strong, the ants will be willing to eat it and bring it back to their nest for the other ants.

The smell of the coffee will still confuse them and mess up their scent trails, but you will not be able to repel them by sprinkling unused coffee grounds. 


Coffee grounds can be used to keep ants away.

You should only put used grounds down to deter ants as unused grounds do not smell strong enough to deter them. Coffee is also useful for helping to deter other garden pests such as squirrels.

Other smells you can use to deter ants include lemon juice and vinegar, which have a powerful and distinct odour. 

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