Do Coffee Grounds Keep Squirrels Away? | Important Facts!

Squirrels, no matter how cute they may be, are considered neighborhood pests when they break into homes or raid lawns and gardens in search of and burying food.

Once they appear, it’s difficult to get rid of them. Luckily, they have sensitive noses, and it’s best to take advantage of that by using products with strong odors, like coffee grounds. 

While coffee grounds are fragrant to humans, squirrels are repulsed by their smell. They’re great to use for protection in your gardens, lawns, and trees. However, they have to be constantly reapplied and are not the best deterrents for indoors. 

Know more about the pros and cons of using coffee grounds against squirrels, what kind to use, where to put them, other ways of deterring squirrels, and how to make your very own squirrel repellent at home! 

Benefits of Using Coffee Grounds to Keep Squirrels Away

Benefits of Using Coffee Grounds to Keep Squirrels Away

Enriches Garden Soil

Coffee grounds consist of nutrients such as potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus that can enrich garden soils. 

They improve soil tilth, can act as mulch, are considered organic resources for composting and landfill, and encourage the growth of healthy microorganisms needed for your plants. When combined with nitrogen fertilizer, it’ll add necessary nutrients for your plants.

Cheaper Choice

Coffee grounds are relatively cheaper compared to other repellents. You can even ask for free coffee grounds at your local cafes! 

Starbucks has started a program where baristas gather used coffee grounds into empty espresso bean bags and then hand them out on a first-come, first-serve basis to gardeners.

You can also find them in gas stations, local convenience and grocery stores (they have plenty of leftovers), diners, and even in your workplace.

Fends Off Other Animals

As a natural pesticide that contains alkaloids, coffee grounds can also be used against other nuisance pests such as slugs, snails, and ants. They can either paralyze or completely kill them off.

Caffeine is said to be even more effective than metaldehydes, which are used in chemical baits, according to an expert

Disadvantages to Using Coffee as a Squirrel Deterrent

Disadvantages to Using Coffee as a Squirrel Deterrent

Needs Frequent Reapplication

Coffee grounds are slightly soluble in water. Its acidic compounds will melt away easily when applied to soil, especially when it rains, so you’d need to keep reapplying. 

However, it will be a waste of time and a waste of potentially good coffee grounds in doing so.

Potentially Toxic for Pets

Grounding coffee releases toxic organic compounds called diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione, which are found to be harmful to pets as it is capable of causing respiratory problems, a 2020 study suggests. 

2018 study found that coffee grounds and roasted coffee are also susceptible to mycotoxin contamination during their production process.

Mycotoxins have shown carcinogenic properties and kidney, liver, and embryo-damaging effects that are harmful to both pets and humans. 

Not as Effective as Other Methods

Some of the more common prevention techniques used are providing squirrels with their platform feeders, using chemical deterrents, and purchasing box and snap traps.

The most effective way is to remove potential entrance routes in buildings and homes as they can squeeze themselves into even small gaps. 

To do this, homeowners may have to either regularly fix their homes or close off any holes big enough with heavy-duty wire mesh or layers of newspaper. 

In gardens, wires are also used to keep squirrels from burrowing into the soil or stealing crops. On the other hand, netting is used for trees. 

What Kind of Coffee Grounds to Use to Keep Squirrels Away?

What Kind of Coffee Grounds to Use to Keep Squirrels Away

Virtually any kind of coffee grounds work just fine at keeping squirrels at bay. Spent (used), brand new, decaffeinated, or flavored (Arabica, Excelsa, Liberica, and Robusta)—it won’t matter. 

You just have to know how to properly apply them depending on the area they frequent, and they’ll just naturally work their magical repelling abilities. 

Where to Put the Coffee Grounds?

Where to Put the Coffee Grounds

Place the coffee grounds directly on places where you see squirrels going through the most. Here are some places you can do so:

  • Clump them together on garden soil and create a 1-inch (2.54 cm) thick layer. 
  • Sprinkle on soil or ground near potted plants.
  • Pepper on top or the surface of bird feeders. If you’re using poles in bird feeders, sprinkle them on the ground where the pole is placed. 

When Coffee Grounds Are Not the Best Option?

When Coffee Grounds Are Not the Best Option

Don’t use them if you have pets such as dogs, cats, hamsters, or other animals that may be potentially poisoned by the coffee grounds. 

Coffee grounds can seldom be hard to outsource and sometimes even a little bit expensive, depending on the store you bought it from. If so, you can opt not to use them. 

If you don’t find them effective, stick to more common methods like manufactured traps and chemical deterrents. 

What Are the Other Ways of Keeping Squirrels Away?


Capsaicin and garlic-based chemical sprays can be used to fend off squirrels and also work as pesticides to fight off insects and other pests. Talk about double purpose!  

You can also try spraying these mixtures recommended by the University of Kentucky when you’re trying to repel squirrels from trees:

  • Copper naphthenate and mineral spirits
  • Asphalt emulsion, copper carbonate, and water
  • Lysol or epsom salts and water

Use in moderation as they can potentially discolor wood. 

Ultrasonic Animal Repellent

These pest devices use ultrasonic sound or sound that’s above the normal human hearing range to drive away mammals such as squirrels. 

However, these may not be as effective as the other alternatives in this list since researchers claim that commercially available ultrasonic repellents aren’t exactly effective. 

Luckily, scientists are creating sound technologies that use more biologically relevant or biosonic sounds, which are more effective in deterring animals. 

Red Pepper Flakes

Pepper flakes, paste, and sprays can also be used against squirrels as they contain capsaicin, which is a natural irritant for squirrels. Red pepper, cayenne pepper, and ground chili peppers can work just fine. 

Spray a generous amount in areas you want squirrels to stay away from, and they’ll go away. Pepper paste works better since it’ll make any surface they traipse or land onto sticky.

Decoy Predators

Although squirrels are hard to fool, you can still try using fake predators such as realistic-looking toys. An added benefit is if they move like the actual animal.

Add Plants That Squirrels Hate into Your Garden

Animals are generally not fond of plants that are aromatic, with splints and thorns, have tough leaves, milky saps, and plants that are toxic, of course. 

Squirrels hate Lily of the Valley, Hyacinth, Daffodils, and Geraniums. Here’s a complete list of potential plants that can deter squirrels compiled by Colorado State University

DIY Squirrel Repellent

Other than the spray mixtures mentioned above, you can also opt to install physical barriers such as netting or tubing to keep squirrels away from trees, seedlings, and plants. 

Visual deterrents, such as foil, vinyl, or any similar ribbon-like products, can also be used. You can create a makeshift fence out of these materials and place them around squirrel-infested areas. 

Frequently Questions:

Do Coffee Ground Repel Squirrels?

Coffee grounds repel squirrels. As long as you sprinkle or layer them onto garden soil and other areas that squirrels frequently go to, such as bird feeders, potted plants, and tree trunks. 

What Do Squirrels Hate the Most?

Squirrels are repulsed by anything strongly-ordered. They have a keen sense of smell and are, therefore, sensitive to pungent ones. 

This includes mothballs, cinnamon, mint, skunk farts, and the scent of urine in predators such as hawks, weasels, and raccoons. 

Why Do Squirrels Not Like Coffee Grounds?

Squirrels hate coffee grounds because of their strong smell. As such, it makes for a decent repellent. 

What Is the Best Natural Squirrel Repellent?

Pets are natural squirrel repellents, especially dogs since they love to chase anything that moves. Cats also like chasing squirrels if they’re up for the challenge. 

Human hair collected in small bags and hung on trees can also work to repel squirrels. Other than pepper, egg solids or rotten eggs that are foul-smelled can also be used. 

How Do You Get Rid of Squirrels Permanently?

The best way of doing so is to make sure your homes are well-guarded against squirrels. Every possible gap should be closed using hardware cloth, sheet metal, or mesh. 


Any kind of coffee grounds can keep squirrels away if you spray them in areas they usually visit, such as garden soils, bird feeders, and trees.

However, it may not be as effective as other repellents. It may be potentially toxic and poisonous to both pets and humans. 

Other methods of keeping squirrels away are the use of sprays, pepper, decoy predators, and plants that squirrels are repulsed by. 

List of Sources

Slug and Snail Baits: Learn How Coffee Can Help You Fight the War on Slime

Exposures and Emissions in Coffee Roasting Facilities and Cafés: Diacetyl, 2,3-Pentanedione, and Other Volatile Organic Compounds

Determination of Potentially Mycotoxigenic Fungi in Coffee (Coffea Arabica L.) From Nayarit

Preventing and Controlling Tree Squirrel Damage

Sonic Pest Repellents

Critter Resistant Plants for the Mountains