How to Get Rid of Snails with Coffee

Coffee has been used by many gardeners to get rid of a variety of garden pests, including snails. We’re going to look at if this is an effective method for repelling snails and if so, how we can use it to keep snails away from both our plant pots and our flower beds.

Do Snails Dislike Coffee?

Snails strongly dislike coffee, which is a good thing as otherwise, it would not be a good method to use to repel snails. There are a couple of reasons why snails may dislike coffee.

The first reason is because of its smell. Whilst coffee has a smell that is loved by many people, it is disliked by many animals because of its bitterness. Snails are one of these animals that are believed to dislike the smell of coffee.

Another reason for their dislike is the fact that coffee caffeinates the soil that it touches. This makes the soil very dislikeable for snails so they will not travel over it.

So, now that we know that snails dislike coffee, let’s look at how we can use it to actually repel snails from your garden:

How to Get Rid of Snails with Coffee

The method for repelling snails with coffee is actually quite a simple one. All you need to do is sprinkle used coffee grounds around the soil of plants that you want to protect and you will be able to get rid of snails with coffee just like that.

This works the same for the soil in plant pots or in flower beds. The contact of the coffee grounds on the soil will act to produce the smell that snails dislike and it will also caffeinate the soil so that the snails will not traverse over your plants.

Using coffee is actually a really good method of deterring snails because, if you like the smell of coffee, your garden will smell lovely, and the presence of coffee can actually help your plants to grow.

The coffee provides nitrogen and nutrients for the soil that can then be taken in by your plants to help them grow. That being said, you should be careful as too much coffee can actually stunt the growth of your plants from too much nitrogen.

You should also try to wet the coffee every few days to keep the smell pungent in your garden.

Sprinkle Coffee to Deter Snails

What Type of Coffee Deters Snails?

There is an ideal type of coffee that you should use for repelling snails: Used, caffeinated coffee grounds.

Instant coffee is not as strong and therefore less effective. If you use unused coffee grounds, then the smell is not as pungent, and the caffeine can not be so easily drawn out by the soil. This means that used coffee grounds are the best thing to use to repel snails.

You can use decaffeinated coffee grounds, but it is not advised.

Whilst the smell of these coffee grounds should hopefully be enough to deter the snails from your plants, if it is not strong enough then they will travel across the soil because it has not come into contact with caffeine.

So, decaf coffee grounds would hopefully work for you in a pinch, but it is not advised as it is not as effective.

Does Instant Coffee Kill Snails?

There is evidence to suggest that instant coffee can kill snails if they come into contact with it because of the caffeine content. This, obviously, is only true for caffeinated instant coffee. The coffee must have a concentration of 1-2% caffeine to be effective. 

Unfortunately, most instant coffee will only contain 0.05% caffeine so try to buy high strength instant coffee if you want it to be effective. You then need to spray the coffee around the areas where you are having issues with slugs. 

Does Instant Coffee Kill Snails

What Does Coffee do to Snails?

Coffee has a range of effects on snails and it depends on the type of coffee you have used, how you have applied it and the concentration of caffeine. 

If you have used a strong, high-caffeine coffee then you may actually kill snails. Caffeine has been proven to be toxic to snails. It is not entirely known why this happens but it is believed to have an impact on their nervous system.

If you have used ground coffee then the mere smell is enough to deter snails. They also find it challenging to move across so will avoid it. 


If you want to get rid of snails then all you need to do is used coffee grounds to repel them. To do this, sprinkle coffee grounds on top of soil surrounding the plants you want to protect. The best type of coffee to use is caffeinated, used coffee grounds.

Coffee can also work to repel other pests including slugs and squirrels.

Some other methods for deterring snails including using difficult to cross terrains such as gravel, or planting repellent plants such as lavender or rosemary.

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