Can I Put Used Coffee Grounds Down a Garbage Disposal?

Plenty of people believe that a garbage disposal can be used as a trash can, but this isn’t entirely true. Many substances and objects cannot be disposed of in this way and can lead to various problems with plumbing and drainage. But, can you put coffee grounds down a garbage disposal?

You cannot put coffee grounds down a garbage disposal. Unlike many substances that dissolve and break down in the water, coffee grounds are mostly insoluble and will clump together to form a sticky residue. This buildup can lead to clogged pipes and issues with drainage. 

Although putting coffee grounds down the garbage disposal has become popular for eliminating odors, it is not the best approach. Whether you are unsure how to dispose of coffee grounds, or are trying out ways to keep your drainage smelling fresh, we’ve gathered everything you need to know and coffee grounds and their effects on drainage systems. 

Can you put coffee grounds down the garbage disposal? 

Always avoid putting coffee grounds down the garbage disposal; it’s not good for your drainage systems and pipes. Many people put coffee grounds down the garbage disposal, believing that it will help absorb and neutralize odors emanating from within the drain. 

This is true to an extent, but the downfalls greatly outweigh the potential benefits. Coffee grounds can be deceiving, as they may appear to go down with ease, and they may not damage the garbage disposal itself.  

But, numerous problems can arise once the coffee grounds are inside the pipes and drainage systems, leading to a variety of blockage issues. Garbage disposals are not tailored to deal with coffee grounds. They are far too fine for the mechanisms to process, and may even jam the mechanisms in some cases. 

While most substances and particles dissolve or break down in the garbage disposal, coffee grounds clump together once they come into contact with water. Coffee grounds are around 70% insoluble organic matter. Once they begin to clump together, it will create a sticky, sludgy, and pasty residue inside the pipes, which will end up blocking the water flow needed for proper drainage. 

How to unclog coffee grounds from the garbage disposal

If you have put coffee grounds down the garbage disposal, intentionally or accidentally, and notice slow drainage or water buildup, you may need to unclog the pipes. In some cases, you may need professional assistance to get the issue resolved, as coffee grounds can become resilient once it’s formed into a messy sediment-like substance. 

But, you can try a few DIY methods at home to help clear some of the blockages. Identify the area where the blockage is located, and try these approaches before investing in a powerful drain cleaner or calling your plumber to aid you in your mission. 

Manual unclogging

Your first attempt should be through the simplest and most traditional tactic – using a plunger. Plungers may not entirely solve the issue, but they will help ease the pressure. Use a plumber’s snake or gently insert a long wire object like a coat hanger. This may physically remove the blockage.

Vinegar and baking soda

Even if you manage to clear most of the blockage, there will probably be leftover residue within the drain. Pour one cup of baking soda into the drain, followed by one cup of plain white vinegar. The reaction between the two substances will involve foaming a bubbling which will help release any remaining coffee grounds. Leave the substance to perform this chemical process for approximately one hour.

Always follow up by pouring boiling water down the drain. Hot water can help release any remaining coffee grounds and clear leftover vinegar and baking soda. Check to see if the blockage is completely gone, and repeat the process if needed. 

How do you dispose of coffee grounds?

Coffee grounds pose various benefits for other usages. There are plenty of ways to safely dispose of coffee grounds, while repurposing them for the benefit of yourself or your household. Otherwise, you may simply toss it in the trashcan for safe disposal.

Fertilizer and plant food

If you love plants as much as you love coffee, you’ll be pleased to know that your greenery will happily accept the waste. Whether you have a lush garden flourishing with plant life or only have a few houseplants here and there, you can easily dispose of coffee grounds in a way that benefits the nature around you.

Coffee grounds are a great option for DIY fertilizer and plant food, even if you don’t have full compost. Plants can benefit from being fed used coffee grounds. They can add notable nutrition to soil and ground spreads, and also assist in deterring pests such as slugs, insects, and ants. 


A cup of fresh coffee may be a part of your morning routine, and you may be able to use the waste to treat yourself at the end of a long day. Coffee grounds are popular for skincare methods and can be used as a physical exfoliator. By mixing the coffee grounds with coconut oil, you can make a great natural scrub that eliminates dead skin cells for a rejuvenating and relaxing at-home facial. 


If you style your hair with products and heat often, adding coffee grounds to your hair care regimen may be advantageous. Used coffee grounds can occasionally be massaged through the hair and scalp before being rinsed out to remove product and oil buildup. Store used coffee grounds in a container for this purpose. 

Odor absorption

One of the main reasons people put coffee grounds down the garbage disposal is to eliminate odors. While it is not advised for garbage disposals and pipes, you can still use coffee grounds for the same purpose in other areas of your home. 

Coffee grounds effectively absorb and neutralize odors, regardless of the smell’s pungency or where it is located. As long as the coffee grounds are placed in an open container, they will do the job well. You can place coffee grounds just about anywhere you feel it’s necessary, but popular options include refrigerators and bathrooms. 

While coffee grounds can cause numerous drainage and pipe systems problems, they are thankfully quite simple to remove with some research and proper steps. Do not put used coffee grounds down the garbage disposal to avoid related risks. Rather repurpose them for the benefit of your plants, hair, and skin, or to keep your home smelling clean and fresh.

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