Do Coffee Grounds Keep Squirrels Away?

Coffee grounds have a strong smell that is thought to keep many pests away. With squirrels having sensitive noses, do coffee grounds keep squirrels away too?

Yes, coffee grounds do keep squirrels away in the majority of cases. Humans love the smell but squirrels find it bitter and off-putting so will avoid areas that smell of coffee.

Do Squirrels Like the Smell of Coffee?

Squirrels do not like the smell of coffee. Despite the bitter scent being nice to us, it is powerful for squirrels and extremely off-putting for them.

Squirrels do not like the smell of either used or unused coffee grounds, though used ones are usually stronger, more repellent and a simple by-product of making coffee that usually ends up in the bin.

If you really think about the smell of coffee, it can be quite bitter with an unnatural smell. Now, imagine you’re an animal that has never smelt coffee… You’re going to proceed with caution and avoid it where possible, right?

Do Squirrels Like Coffee Grounds?

No, squirrels do not like coffee grounds. Squirrels have a strong sense of smell and are instantly put off by the strong, bitter smell of coffee grounds.

How to Use Ground Coffee to Deter Squirrels

There is an effortless way to use coffee grounds to repel squirrels. Sprinkle them around the soil of plants or areas of the garden frequently disturbed by squirrels.

Placing used coffee grounds in these areas is much more effective than using new ones because they have a much stronger smell. This means that their smell will reach out further and help repel squirrels from larger areas of your garden. 

A good way to keep on top of this is to sprinkle water over the coffee grounds every few days. Doing this helps not only keep them fresh, but it continues to amplify their aroma and, therefore, their effectiveness.

Unfortunately, with wind, rain and even sunlight, the effectiveness of coffee grounds will not last much beyond a few days. The good news is that if you drink coffee daily then you can simply empty the coffee grounds tray in your garden instead of the bin. 

Do Coffee Grounds Attract Pests?

Before using coffee grounds to deter squirrels, it’s worth knowing that coffee grounds can attract some pests. Roaches, for example, are attracted to coffee grounds alongside some flies.

Which Kind of Coffee Grounds Deter Squirrels?

Fortunately, if the coffee grounds smell of bitter coffee then they will work to deter squirrels. It’s safe to say that most coffee grounds will work and it doesn’t matter which brand it is.

The only thing to consider is that you want to use coffee grounds from an espresso or coffee machine. Avoid using instant coffee grounds which tend to have a milder odour.

You should also use coffee grounds and not fresh beans or ground beans. Coffee grounds are a by-product of making coffee which means it won’t cost you anything to use this deterrent.

Are Coffee Grounds Bad for Plants?

Knowing what to use to repel pests can be tricky as you do not want to cause any harm to your plants. But coffee grounds are actually good for plants, so you don’t need to fear using them in your garden.

This is because they contain extra minerals that help promote healthy plant growth when added to the soil. 

As well as this, coffee grounds are also said to attract worms. At first, that doesn’t sound good, but worms are actually beneficial little critters to have in your garden.

The presence of worms will also work to attract birds; therefore, coffee grounds can help your garden host and maintain a healthy ecosystem.

Ultimately, coffee grounds can work to deter squirrels (and other pests) whilst providing benefits to your soil and plant health. As a gardener, coffee grounds are a win-win!

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What Other Smells Deter Squirrels?

The reason that coffee grounds work so well is that squirrels have a strong sense of smell and hate the smell of coffee. Of course, not everybody drinks coffee or has the option to sprinkle grounds in their garden.

Fortunately, you can use this knowledge of their strong sense of smell to deter squirrels with other smells:

  • Peppermint and Spearmint – Strong-smelling mint plants are a great way to repel squirrels from flower beds. Be warned, however, that the plants can become invasive.
  • Pepper – Black pepper, white pepper and cayenne pepper can all put squirrels off.
  • Garlic – If you’re having a problem with squirrels digging up your veg plants then interplanting garlic between the problem plants can be a great way to deter squirrels. You can also use other members of the allium family such as chives and leeks.
  • Cat Urine – Cat (and other animal) urine will put squirrels off. They will think that a predator is nearby, fear being attacked and leave immediately. This is why having a pet cat can actually be a great squirrel deterrent.


To summarise what we have learnt, here are some key points to remember. Squirrels dislike the smell of coffee, and it can be used to repel them. Used coffee grounds are a better deterrent than unused coffee grounds.

Coffee grounds are safe to use around plants and can help improve their growth and help your garden have a healthy ecosystem by attracting worms and, therefore, birds.

The smell of coffee also helps to remove other pests. These include mosquitoes, fleas, snails and ants. 

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