Every day, coffee drinkers everywhere are faced with a question: what’s the best way to dispose of used coffee grounds? Can you put the coffee grounds in the sink, or is it better to throw them in the garbage? The situation is even more complex if you have garbage disposal; after all, it’s designed to handle solid waste.
Plumbers agree — you should never put coffee grounds down the sink. Over time, they can build up and clog the pipes, creating a wide range of potentially expensive plumbing problems.
What Happens When You Put Coffee Grounds Down The Drain?
When you put coffee grounds in the sink, you might not notice a difference at first. Keep doing it, however, and you’ll start to see problems. That’s because coffee grounds aren’t water-soluble; they don’t break down when exposed to water.
Instead, the opposite happens — the grounds tend to clump together. Over time, these masses can cause serious clogs.
The problem gets worse if you manage to pour grease down the drain. Coffee grounds stick to the layer of fat, causing massive blockages. If you continue to put coffee grounds in the sink, you might end up with an expensive visit from the plumber.
Can Coffee Grounds Damage Your Pipes?
There’s an urban myth that suggests that coffee grounds can clean out your drain pipes. Other sources claim that coffee can remove unpleasant odors. Both of these rumors are false; coffee grounds can contribute to conditions that damage your kitchen plumbing.
On their own, the grounds are relatively harmless. They’re acidic, but they’re unlikely to erode the pipes. The real problem is the clogs they cause. Any time a line is clogged, the water backs up in the tube. Instead of flowing freely, it may start to leak out of joints or other weak areas.
Standing water in a clogged pipe also leads to mold, mildew, and bacteria buildup. Over time, this growth can release dangerous spores into the air and cause unpleasant odors in your drains.
Do Coffee Grounds Clog Drains?
Coffee grounds can clog the drains in your home. Coffee grounds are one of the top causes of drain blockages. They’re second only to grease — however, the two substances often work in tandem to cause problems.
Don’t panic if you’ve poured grounds down the sink drain once or twice; it’s probably not going to be an issue. However, if you make a habit of this practice, it’s a good idea to stop.
While you’re at it, you might consider using a drain cleaner or getting your drains professionally cleaned. That way, you can clear out the existing buildup before it causes an issue down the road.
If your sink has a garbage disposal, coffee grounds lead to additional problems. They tend to drop into the blades, which impacts the function of the disposer. Anytime you accidentally pour coffee grounds, make sure to rinse them thoroughly to reduce the risk of accumulation.
The kitchen sink isn’t the only drain in your home — you might wonder if you can flush coffee grounds down the toilet or dump them in the shower drain. In most cases, it’s not a big deal. You may run the risk of clogs, particularly in the shower drain.
If you have a septic tank, it’s a good idea to avoid putting grounds into the shower or toilet. They accumulate in the septic tank, leading to more frequent pumping. While this isn’t catastrophic, it does lead to higher maintenance costs.
Keep in mind that septic systems also have a unique bacteria system. The acid in coffee grounds can disrupt the balance of the tank, which prevents it from functioning correctly. In rare cases, this may require professional service.
How Do I Keep Drains Clear?
If you want to avoid a clogged drain, the easiest option is to prevent obstructions from forming. To start, avoid dropping coffee grounds and fatty substances in the sink. Instead, dispose of them in the trash.
Do you have a garbage disposal? Keep your drains clear by inserting approved items only. In general, food-based kitchen waste is the only thing you should put at your disposal. Some safe items include:
– Fruit and vegetable scraps
– Banana peels (without stickers)
– Cooked meat
– Small fish bones
– Cooked leftovers
Things you should never put in the garbage disposal:
– Fibrous items like artichokes, celery, and asparagus
– Large quantities of eggshells
– Starchy foods like pasta and rice
– Raw meat and shellfish
Regular cleaning is essential for clear drains. Clean pipes allow standard water flow rates, so you won’t need to worry about leaks, smells, and buildup.
Every couple of weeks sprinkle about one-half cup of baking soda into your drain. Then, pour in one cup of vinegar, and place a small plate over the drain.
After 10-15 minutes, flush the drain with boiling water. This simple mixture goes a long way toward removing bacteria and preventing odors.
Other ways to clean your drains include chemical drain cleaners and drain snakes. If you notice that your sink is draining slowly or making a gurgling noise, it might be time to call for professional plumbing services.
Reasons You Shouldn’t Put Coffee Grounds Down The Sink.
There are a few main reasons you should never put coffee grounds into your sink:
1. The grounds can accumulate and block the drain.
2. Coffee grounds stick to grease buildup on the interior of pipes, causing backups and blockages.
3. Grounds tend to build up in garbage-disposal blades, which can lead to damage.
4. Large quantities of coffee grounds can damage your septic system pH balance.
How To Dispose of Coffee Grounds?
The fastest way to get rid of your coffee grounds is to toss them in the trash. Keep in mind that fresh grounds usually contain water that can leak out of the garbage bag. To prevent this, put them in a container or a used plastic package.
Are you looking for ways to reduce waste? If you have a green thumb, coffee grounds are great for your garden. Sprinkle them directly on the soil; they’ll act as a fertilizer and keep slugs at bay. You can also mix coffee grounds into the top few inches of dirt before or after planting.
Coffee grounds also make a great addition to your compost bin. They contain nitrogen that enriches the mix. While you’re at it, drop in the coffee filters, too — paper filters are biodegradable, and they add carbon to the mix.
The carbon helps balance out the nitrogen, keeping your compost healthy. As a rule of thumb, coffee grounds should make up no more than 25% of the compost at any given time.
Other uses for coffee grounds include:
– Exfoliant: Mix grounds with coconut oil and rub on your skin
– Insect repellent in outdoor seating areas
– Flea repellent when mixed with pet shampoo
– Natural scrub to remove food particles from pots and pans
– Deodorizer in the refrigerator or dishwasher
Coffee grounds are a standard kitchen waste product. Whether you make coffee with a drip machine, a French press, or a pour-over, the coffee grounds should never be poured into the sink. By tossing them in the garbage or using them in the garden, you can keep your drains fresh and clog-free.