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Can You Put Coffee Grounds in A Garbage Disposal? (Facts & FAQ)

ground coffee in a portafilter

A garbage disposal can be a convenient appliance to throw away any leftovers that you may not have the energy to deal with, but there are many waste materials that you should avoid throwing down there. After brewing your morning cup of coffee, it’s tempting to dump the grounds in the sink. However, you should avoid throwing your coffee grounds in the garbage disposal.

In this article, we’ll explain what happens to your coffee grounds if you throw them in the garbage disposal and provide great alternatives for disposing of them.

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Can I Put Coffee Grounds in a Garbage Disposal

A garbage disposal can handle various dense foods, so it stands to reason that it can also tolerate coffee grounds. When coffee grounds become wet, they become a very thick paste, while other foods degrade. Because of the density of the wet coffee grounds, they become prone to clogging your pipes, particularly the u-shaped bend under the kitchen sink.

The situation will only worsen when it combines with other food scraps disposed of in the garbage disposal. If you have no choice but to dump them in the drain, dispose of your grounds while running water simultaneously to ensure the pipes are thoroughly rinsed.

water spraying into garbage disposal drain in stainless steel sink
Image By: Vineyard Perspective, Shutterstock

How to Remove Coffee Grounds from a Garbage Disposal

If you have dumped your coffee grounds down the garbage disposal, there is no need to panic since they are as difficult as they may seem to remove.

Insert a rubber stop on the other side of your drain and fill the garbage disposal with water. Use a plunger, pushing it up and down about 10–15 times to clear the clog. This should usually work, but you may need to get to the P-trap to unclog it if it is unsuccessful.

Carefully remove the screws that connect the P-trap to the sink and place a bucket underneath to catch any spills. Once it is unscrewed, you can pull it away and locate the obstruction.

Depending on how severe it is, you can use your hand or a screwdriver to remove the clog, and while you have it disconnected, you can give it a good cleaning to help prevent any accumulation of dirt that can cause a clog. This is also an opportunity to inspect other pipes for any obstructions.

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How Should I Dispose of Coffee Grounds?

While the most obvious method is to throw the used coffee in the garbage can, it is still not the best option, but it’s better than tossing it in your drain.

Compost Bins

If you have a compost heap or bin, you can add grounds to benefit the composting process. Coffee grounds can add vital nutrients such as nitrogen and potassium to the soil while absorbing heavy metals and attracting earthworms.

Because coffee is acidic and high in nitrogen, it is an excellent fertilizer for balancing the pH of your plant’s soil. You can also mix the grounds straight into your soil or sprinkle them sparingly on top of your plant soil to promote growth.

woman sprinkling used coffee grounds over compost
Image Credit: Jurga Jot, Shutterstock

Bug Repellent

Because of their acid levels, coffee grounds make an excellent and effective natural bug repellent. Snails, worms, and other garden pests will avoid your plants if you sprinkle a line of coffee grounds around them. You can also add your coffee grounds to a jar, line it with sticky tape, and place it in areas where you want to repel pests.

Air Freshener

You can use your coffee grounds to make an air freshener or to disguise unwanted odors that may be present in your kitchen or fridge. They absorb and neutralize pungent smells from foods such as fish, onions, and garlic. You can put coffee grounds in ice cube trays and freeze them. Once they are frozen, you can place them in areas where you want to eliminate unwanted odors.

coffee grounds in filter
Image Credit: Yohan Marion, Unsplash

Skin Exfoliator

Another great way to reuse your coffee grounds is to make a skin exfoliator. The coarse texture of coffee grounds makes them the perfect material to exfoliate the skin. The grounds can help clear away dead skin cells and unclog pores. The coffee’s chlorogenic acids¹ may also reduce inflammation and protect against certain bacteria strains.

Tie-Dye Ink

You can also have some fun with your used coffee grounds and use them to create tie-dyed clothing items. Mix the coffee grounds with hot water to create a paste, and soak your tied clothing items. The result will be a beige or light brown, natural tie-dye effect.

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While throwing your coffee grounds in the garbage disposal is tempting, it’s best to avoid doing so since they can become dense when wet and clog your pipes. There are multiple ways to dispose of and reuse your used coffee grounds, and adding them to your garden or compost heap would be the best and most beneficial option. They can also be used as an odor eliminator, skin exfoliator, and a creative way to spruce up old clothing.

Featured Image Credit: eliasfalla, Pixabay


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