11 Best Things To Do With Old Coffee Mugs

Are you wondering what the best things to do with old coffee mugs are? There are dozens of ways to reuse it around your house or garden. Let’s dive in.

Things to do with old coffee mugs
Unused mugs on a shelf

If you are like me, then you have a cupboard full of coffee mugs. I probably have thirty coffee mugs all on a shelf, and I barely use half of them on a regular basis.

While I love each of my mugs, I also want to free up some space. What if I find another amazing mug to add to my collection? I don’t want to just throw my unused mugs away, so I decided to do a little research and figure out some fun ways I could reuse and recycle my old mugs.

1. Make DIY Soy Candles

An old mug is a perfect vessel for making a candle at home. I have a good number of mugs that look really cute, but I don’t drink out of them anymore, but making a candle is easier than you think. Candles also make excellent, thoughtful gifts for friends and loved ones.

For this project, you will need to have soy wax, a wick, and the appropriate tools to melt and pour the wax and set the wick in place. Candle-making kits are relatively affordable such as this one from Dingpai.

First, you melt the wax in a double boiler. You don’t want the wax to be directly exposed to heat! Once melted, you can add essential oils to the wax to give your candle a nice aroma when it burns.

Then, you just pour the wax into your old coffee mug and set the wick in place. Once the wax cools, you will have a homemade candle in your old mug!

2. Plant Herbs And Succulents 

Mugs are the perfect size for growing small herbs and succulents. Whether you want to grow something you can use in the kitchen or just to have a cute houseplant in an old favorite mug, this is an easy and straightforward way to recycle an old mug.

Handmade vintage home decoration with succulents in colorful tea mugs
Mugs are the perfect size for growing small herbs and succulents

The easiest approach is to go to a nursery and find a small, potted plant that is a similar size to the mug you want to use. You can either place the entire container into the mug if it fits, or you can remove the entire plant (dirt and everything) from the container and place it in your mug!

You may want to use a power drill to poke a few holes in the bottom of your mug so that water can drain out. Make sure you put a saucer underneath to catch the water.

I have a little cactus next to my computer in an old ceramic cup! You might find our explainer on how tall is a coffee cup helpful.

3. Break Them To Make Mosaic Art

If you are truly committed to getting rid of an old mug, one option is to shatter it and use the broken pieces for an art project! The shards of pottery that remain when you break a mug are perfect for making a mosaic.

You might already have a bunch of colorful old mugs that don’t match your kitchen. Not to mention, breaking the mugs is cathartic, but you need to be very careful to ensure you don’t get cut by the shards or leave them in places where children or pets could get hurt.

You can always break your mugs and save the pieces with your art supplies for when you are ready to use them. Be sure to wear eye protection to protect your eyes from flying pieces. 

4. Organize Your Desk

When I am looking for a pen or highlighter, or ruler, I usually find myself looking through multiple drawers and cabinets before I finally find what I am looking for. Old mugs are a great way to organize office supplies, so you don’t have to spend 15 minutes sifting through junk drawers just to write a note.

I have a few mugs that are chipped but are still sentimental to me. I keep these ones on my desk; that way, I can still enjoy seeing them while also giving them a second life now that I don’t drink out of them.

5. Fill Them With Potpourri

Old mugs are a great way to keep potpourri all around the house. Perhaps some of your old mugs would better match the decor in your guest bathroom than in your kitchen. All you need to do is fill your old mug with potpourri, and voila, it is now a cute, aromatic decoration! 

6. Use Them To Dip-Dye Easter Eggs

Another great use for old mugs is for dyeing art projects. A lot of mugs are the perfect size for dip-dyeing Easter eggs (or any other time you are looking for a way to entertain the kids). 

Just mix food coloring and hot water in your mugs, and you are all set to go. Simply dip the eggs to give them a beautiful color. With dip-dyeing, you can make nice designs on the eggs by partially submerging them in different colors to create stripes of color!

7. Amplify Your Phone Speaker 

Here’s a little technology hack for when you need to make your phone speaker louder; simply place your phone in an empty coffee mug with the speaker pointed toward the bottom of the mug. The mug will act as a natural amplifier. This is a great little trick to know, especially if you have friends over and want to listen to music but don’t have speakers on hand!

8. Use Them To Organize Your Garage Workbench

My garage workstation is often a mess. There are nails and screwdrivers and drillbits and all sorts of little pieces everywhere. Using old mugs to organize small tools, screws, and nails is a great way to keep things neat and tidy.

I even keep mugs for storing AAA and AA batteries. That way, they don’t all get scattered in the back of my junk drawer! 

9. Use Them As Biscuit Or Cookie Cutters

A green ceramic mug with a broken handle on a wooden table
Use an old mug that lost a handle to cut biscuits and cookie dough

Cutting a perfect circle is not the easiest task, particularly if you are a bit heavy-handed like me. I like to use old cups as a form for cutting biscuits and cookie dough. This is another great way to give new life to an old mug, especially mugs that have lost a handle but the rim is still in good condition!

10. Using An Old Mug As A Sponge Holder

I think it’s important to keep the area around our sink clean. I tend to make a bit of a mess when I do the dishes. I used to always leave the wet sponge sitting on the counter, letting water pool all around it.

To help control my messier impulses, I set an old coffee mug next to the sink. Now, whenever I am done washing dishes, I place the sponge in the mug. Not only does this provide the sponge a “home,” but it also collects any liquid that may drip out of the sponge for easy clean-up!

11. Donate Them 

Whatever you do, do not throw away your old mugs. As they say, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. If you truly must get rid of your old mugs, take them to a local thrift store.

Not only will this give your mug a shot at a second life, but the proceeds from thrift stores typically go to important local charities. So, not only is donating your mug less wasteful than throwing it away, but it will also help raise funds for your community! Check out our explainer on how many coffee cups are in a gallon.


  • Aisling O'Connor

    Aisling is an Irish food and drinks writer and journalist fueled by coffee and herbal tea. She followed up her journalism degree with nutrition studies. Find Aisling on LinkedIn.