Do Coffee Grounds Attract Rats?

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I often lie in bed and ask myself important questions like “do coffee grounds attract rats?” I assume this is a question everyone thinks about since I get asked about it all the time. I don’t look like a guy who owns rats, nor do I garden. Anyway, let’s get to the bottom of it!

Digging Into the Details: What Draws Rats in the First Place?

To answer the burning question of whether coffee grounds attract rats, it’s first necessary to understand what draws these rodents in the first place. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, rats are typically drawn to human habitats due to the availability of food and shelter.

Food waste, pet food, and even fruit trees can serve as irresistible lures for these pests. The comfort of a warm, undisturbed compost bin or pile might be the icing on the cake—or should we say, the peanut butter on the mouse trap?

Do Coffee Grounds Attract Rats
This little guy smells something!

Compost piles are treasure troves for rats. An array of organic materials like food scraps, egg shells, and grass clippings provide a hearty feast for these critters. Not to mention, compost heaps make a great place for a rat’s home.

But here’s the good news: using coffee grounds in a compost pile could change the game.

Fact or Fiction: Do Coffee Grounds Deter Rats?

The strong odor of coffee grounds is said to deter rats. Contrary to popular belief, rats, unlike us, aren’t fans of the strong smell of coffee. It’s not their cup of tea—or, should I say, coffee. So, if you’ve been wondering whether to use coffee grounds in your compost bin or sprinkle them around your yard, do it. But, like with most good things, moderation is key. Too much coffee could lead to acidic soil, which might not be the best solution for your garden plants.

Related: Discover 15 Houseplants Perfect for Coffee Lovers

Pest Control Beyond Coffee Grounds

Now, you might be thinking—what if you don’t drink that much coffee? Or what if you prefer the convenience of a French Press or Espresso Machine, both of which leave little room for coffee grounds? Well, fret not. You can still employ natural rodent repellents to keep these pests at bay.

1. Peppermint and Other Essential Oils

Peppermint oil, clove oil, eucalyptus oil—these essential oils are all considered natural ways to deter rats. The strong scent of these oils can mask food odors, making your backyard less appealing to rodents. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you might even try snake poo. FYI, it turns out you can’t just buy snake poo. You’d have to collect it manually, so this is not feasible, tbh.

A Rat Reaching For A Bottle Of Essential Oils
I hate it but I want to touch it…

2. Cayenne Pepper and Chili Powder

Cayenne pepper, chili powder, and hot peppers are delicious in meals but terrible for rats. If you sprinkle these spices around your property, they can naturally keep rodents away.

The reason is that rats find the spicy scents of hot sauce and cayenne pepper unpleasant due to a compound called capsaicin. Capsaicin gives them a sensation of pain and burning in their mouths and taste buds1, which makes them stay away from areas with these scents.

3. Creative Tactics: Cat Urine and More

Another effective method is the use of strong chemicals like cat urine. Sounds gross, right? But if you own a cat, you’ve got the perfect rat deterrent right under your nose. Alternatively, place cotton balls soaked in white vinegar around your garden to keep these rodents at bay.

4. Citronella

Citronella has a strong smell overwhelms a rat’s senses, making it difficult for them to hunt for food and protect themselves from predators. A study published in Applied Biological Research2 showed that rats consumed significantly less food in areas where citronella oil was present compared to areas where it wasn’t.

To repel rats, you can use citronella oil diluted to about a 10% concentration and place the scent around areas where you want to repel rats​.

A Rat Smelling A Citronella Candle
Uhh…is dat a citronella candle?

5. White Vinegar

White vinegar has a strong and unpleasant smell that can confuse and frighten rats, especially if they are already nesting. Soaking cotton balls in white vinegar or making diluted water and vinegar spray and spraying it around your home can help deter rats​.

6. Clover

Clover plants have an aromatic smell that can repel rats. You can pick the flowers directly from your yard and place them in areas where you want to repel rats. Another option is to soak the plants in water and use the resulting aromatic water in a spray bottle to deter rats.

7. Rat Poison

Rat poison is a strong and effective method to eliminate rats when other ways don’t work. It attracts rats with poisonous bait that can kill them. When rats eat it, the poison affects their insides and causes them to die. However, it’s really important to be careful when using rat poison because it can also harm people, pets, and other animals. Always read and follow the instructions carefully, and keep it away from anyone or anything unintended.

A Rat Dying After Eating Rat Poison
Sorry guy, that’s not Adderall…or should I say, Ratterall…

Composting 101: Making the Most of Your Coffee Grounds

Whether you’re composting in a cozy apartment, a closet in NYC, or a spacious backyard, remember that your coffee grounds can be a beneficial addition to your compost. Also, as we’ve discussed, the strong smell of coffee grounds could potentially offer an additional benefit — deterring pests like rats.

So, coffee grounds could be a valuable ally, whether you’re an indoor composter dealing with fruit flies or an outdoor composter warding off rodents.

Compost Bins: Recommendations for Indoor and Outdoor Use

Composting is a practice that’s growing in popularity and with good reason. Not only does it offer a way to recycle organic waste, but it also provides nutrient-rich soil for your plants. However, the compost bin type can depend on whether you plan to compost indoors or outdoors.

Indoor Composting

When selecting an indoor compost bin, look for options that are compact, easy to use, and equipped with a robust odor control system. A bin with a built-in charcoal filter is an excellent choice. This feature helps manage the scent of decomposing organic compounds so your house doesn’t smell like dookie.

Choosing a compost bin with a secure lid is crucial to prevent pesky intruders like fruit flies from settling in. We’ve found success with this bamboo countertop composting unit in our own home.

Outdoor Compost Bin
Outdoor composting bin

Outdoor Composting

If you’re lucky to have a backyard, you can go with a big compost bin. Bigger bins can hold more waste and let air in, which helps break down the waste faster. A good choice is a rolling compost bin. These bins are easy to spin, so your waste gets air without needing to stir it with a tool.

They also stay above the ground, which keeps bugs away. Usually, these rolling bins have two sections. You can put waste in one section while the other section is breaking down. This is great if you have a lot of waste to compost. Here are my recommendations for outdoor composting bins.

This is the one I have

Compost Tumbler 5003 9 1

We use a bin like this one sold by YitaHome, for $115. Save 10% if you use the code SUMMER10. Ours came with our house, and it’s survived for 10+ years in St. Louis’ very cold and very hot weather.

You can DIY this one for cheap

Tedswoodworking Plans And Projects

DIYers can create their own compost bin using Ted’s Woodworking plans. With a one-time payment, access thousands of designs. For free woodworking plans, check out, including an easy-to-make outdoor compost unit suitable for beginners.


Do coffee grounds attract rats?

No, in fact, the strong smell of coffee grounds acts as a deterrent for rats.

Is using coffee grounds in a compost bin a good idea?

Yes, coffee grounds can be a great addition to compost bins. They add essential nutrients and help deter rats. However, moderation is key, as too much can lead to acidic soil.

Can I use coffee grounds from my Drip coffee maker or Stovetop Espresso Maker?

Absolutely! You can use coffee grounds from any source, including a drip coffee maker, a stovetop espresso machine, or even a Cold brew coffee maker.

What are other natural ways to deter rats?

Essential Oils Are A Rat Deterrant

You can use essential oils, spices like cayenne pepper, and even cat urine to keep rats at bay.

How often should I sprinkle coffee grounds in my yard?

There’s no hard and fast rule, but once a week should be sufficient. Again, moderation is key.

Can I get coffee grounds from coffee shops?

Spent Coffee Grounds Fertilizer

Yes, most coffee shops are happy to give away used coffee grounds.

Concluding Thoughts

So, do coffee grounds attract rats? The verdict seems to be quite the opposite. Coffee grounds can actually help deter these pesky pests. But remember, it’s not just about coffee grounds. Implementing a comprehensive pest control strategy, maintaining clean compost bins, and regularly checking for signs of rodents are all part of the process. We can keep our homes and gardens rat-free with creativity, common household items, and a healthy respect for nature. Good luck!


  2. Singla, Neena & Thind, Ramandeep. (2014). The potential of citronella oil as rodent repellent measured as aversion to food. Applied Biological Research. 16. 191-198. 10.5958/0974-4517.2014.00010.X.
Avatar Of Kelsey Todd
With over two decades in the coffee industry, Kelsey is a seasoned professional barista with roots in Seattle and Santa Barbara. Accredited by The Coffee Association of America and a member of The Baristas Guild, he combines practical expertise with a profound understanding of coffee's history and cultural significance. Kelsey tries his best to balance family time with blogging time and fails miserably.

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