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Can You Put Coffee Grounds in the Sink Garbage Disposal?

coffee grounds

On busy mornings, it’s tempting to gulp down your coffee and throw the coffee grounds down the garbage disposal. While it’s a convenient way to clean up, it can lead to costly problems in the long run. Garbage disposals are durable, but they are not indestructible. There are things you should never throw in them, including coffee grounds.

If you’re dealing with garbage disposal issues, a professional plumber can have it running smoothly again. The plumber can also come in for regular maintenance to ensure all the parts are in perfect working condition. That will help you get as many years as possible from your garbage disposal.

Why You Should Not Throw Coffee Grounds Into the Sink Garbage Disposal

Homeowners are used to throwing various food scraps down the garbage disposal. So why not coffee grounds?

Because they’re tiny particles, it might seem like ground coffee will have no problem going down the sink. But they’re one of the most notorious drain-cloggers. They build up over time and create a sludge that’s extremely hard to remove.

If you brew coffee daily, there are plenty of other ways to dispose of or use the coffee grounds. One option is throwing them in the garbage can while ensuring they don’t spill everywhere. Or better yet, add them to your compost bin.

Coffee grounds are rich in nitrogen, providing the necessary energy bacteria needed to convert organic matter into compost. They also help improve the soil’s aeration, drainage and water retention and attract earthworms and other organisms.

Aside from coffee grounds, here are other things you shouldn’t be throwing into your garbage disposal.

Animal Fats and Cooking Oil

Animal fat may be liquid when you pour it down the drain, but it will harden quickly and turn into a paste. It will build up inside the garbage disposal and drain pipes, and you’ll soon notice that the water isn’t draining as fast. As for cooking oils, they don’t harden immediately like animal fat. But they can eventually become a thick gel and clog up your sink.

Large Bones and Shells

Garbage disposals are tough, but that doesn’t mean they can handle anything you throw at them. Animal bones like chicken or turkey bones can dull or damage the blades. They can also jam the garbage disposal and burn out the motor.

Fibrous Vegetables

While fibrous vegetables are good for you, they are not great for garbage disposals. Vegetables like kale, asparagus and celery can get tangled up in the blades, jam the motor and clog the drain. Banana peels and corn husks are other stringy items that can cause problems.


After baking cookies or frying up some chicken, we often wonder what to do with the leftover flour or cornstarch. The garbage disposal seems like the quickest solution, but that would be a mistake. Starch forms a sticky sludge that takes forever to go down the drain. Also, they will stick to other food wastes, creating an even worse obstruction. And as starch dries up, it turns into a crust that’s hard to dissolve.

Glutinous Items

While pasta, bread and rice are welcome additions to the pantry, keep them away from the garbage disposal. They become glutinous when mixed with water and will obstruct your drain pipes.

Hot Water

While hot water might seem like a logical solution to a clogged garbage disposal, it will only make things worse. Even if you’re careful not to pour oil or grease into the sink, your leftovers still have traces of them. The hot water will liquify them and spread them all over the system. It’s perfectly fine to pour hot water between grindings. But never do so while the garbage disposal is running.

It takes a lot of mindfulness to keep these food items away from the garbage disposal. Don’t beat yourself up if you accidentally put coffee grounds into the sink garbage disposal. You can always count on a professional plumber to save the day. The plumber will remove the clog and have the garbage disposal grinding smoothly again.

a gnat

What To Do if You Have Gnats in the Garbage Disposal

Gnats are tiny, annoying insects that love to feed on rotting organic matter. That makes the kitchen, particularly the garbage disposal, a prime target for these pests. The larvae get nutrition from the slime that forms naturally on the drain pipes.

Gnats are an unpleasant sight and can be embarrassing if you have guests. Fortunately, you can drive them away by cleaning the sink and garbage disposal with just a few household ingredients. Prepare some boiling water, baking soda, white vinegar, rock salt and ice cubes, and follow these steps.

  • Measure a cup of baking soda and pour it into the sink drain.
  • Follow it up immediately with one to two cups of vinegar and let the mixture bubble. The reaction will help remove the grime from the drain pipes, eliminating the gnats’ food source.
  • Pour boiling water down the sink and let it cool. Finally, let the tap run to give it a final rinse.
  • After cleaning the sink, it’s time to clean the garbage disposal. Place rock salt and ice cubes in the drain and let the unit run.
  • Pour hot water continuously into the drain as the garbage disposal grinds the ice cubes. That will help remove any leftover particles or grime on the blades.

Let a professional plumber take over if you’re dealing with severe grime buildup in your garbage disposal.

a dishwasher

What To Do if Your Garbage Disposal Is Backing up Into the Dishwasher

Your garbage disposal is supposed to make your life easier. But sometimes, it can create more problems in the kitchen, like backing up into the dishwasher and making clean dishes dirty again. Not only is it messy and disgusting, but it also poses a health risk. You should never have bacteria-filled water hanging out in your dishwasher. If you’re dealing with this issue, these troubleshooting tips can help.

Unclog Sink Drain

All sorts of leftover food can find their way into the sink drain. Eventually, they will clog the pipes and cause the pressure inside the line to increase. That will push the dirty water into the dishwasher line. You can alleviate the pressure by disconnecting the P-trap under the sink and removing visible clogs. Make sure that you never stick your hand or fingers down the garbage disposal to try to dislodge a clog, even if it’s off and disconnected.

If there are no blockages in the P-trap, you can insert a snake drain into the pipe behind the sink that leads into the wall. Have a bucket ready to catch any debris that might fall out. Another option is to try plunging the sink drain. That can help break up the blockage and force it down the line. However, be careful with this method because it can put too much pressure on the pipes. A professional plumber can always do this for you.

Unplug Garbage Disposal

New garbage disposals have a knock-out plug on the side that provides a watertight seal. If you have a dishwasher, remove this plug to let water travel into the disposal and out from the trap. If you don’t, the dirty water will return to the dishwasher and cause a foul smell in your garbage disposal and an unsightly mess. It happens more than you think, so it doesn’t hurt to check your garbage disposal.

Reposition Drain Hose Loop

The dishwasher drain hose emerges from the bottom of the unit and leads to a higher point than the sink drain. It then loops back down to connect to the garbage disposal. The loop is crucial because it prevents dirty sink water from flowing to the dishwasher. With poor installation, the loop can fall below the sink drain. You can fix this by having a professional position the drain hose correctly and secure it in place.

If your garbage disposal is causing a mess in your kitchen and you can’t figure out what’s wrong, contact a professional plumber. The plumber has the tools and expertise to get your garbage disposal back in working order.

Let a Professional Deal With Your Garbage Disposal Troubles

Not all homeowners want to deal with garbage disposal problems. They can be messy, smelly and time-consuming. Fortunately, you can leave the hard work to professional plumbers. They will identify the root of the problem and perform the necessary repairs or replacements. They can also come in for regular maintenance to prevent future issues.

ABC Can Get Your Garbage Disposal Working Again

A garbage disposal that isn’t working can cause huge disruptions in your life. Instead of prolonging the issue by trying to fix it yourself, contact ABC Home & Commercial Services. Our professional plumbers will efficiently locate the issue and then get to work on making all garbage disposal repairs.

Jim Brant

Jim Brant is the Plumbing Director for ABC Dallas and Fort Worth branches and has been with the company for five years. Jim has 30 years of experience in the plumbing industry and 14 as a master plumber. When Jim isn't addressing plumbing issues in the Metroplex and beyond, he enjoys off-roading in his Jeep.

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