What Dissolves Coffee Grounds? Coffee Disposal and Clog Prevention

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Who doesn’t love that morning cup of coffee? Coffee gets you going in the morning, but where are your grounds going? If your sink or garbage disposal is clogged with coffee grounds, you’re disposing of them wrong.

In this guide, we’ll look at how to remove coffee clogs and how to prevent future clogs by disposing of your grounds in safe, eco-friendly ways. 

What Dissolves Coffee Grounds?

When it comes to dissolving coffee grounds, there are a couple of different ways to break them up.

  • Hot water and soap can dissolve the oils, making it easier to clean out the coffee grounds from your sink.
  • Baking soda and vinegar is an excellent way to remove coffee grounds that have become lodged in pipes or other plumbing.
  • Chemical drain cleaners should be used as a last resort because they can damage your pipes and create fumes. 

What are Coffee Grounds?

Coffee beans in their natural state are completely insoluble in water. But when you roast and grind coffee beans, they become partially soluble. The soluble parts largely end up in your cup, though, and the used coffee grounds are mostly the fibers and oils that are resistant to both water and mild cleaning agents.

Do Coffee Grounds Clog Drains?

The hot water from the brewing process does not “cook” them, so they don’t break down the way other things do. If you have a few little grounds in the bottom of your cup, and you rinse them down the sink, it won’t do any harm.

However, if you’re dumping the grounds from the coffee basket in the sink and rinsing them down, over time, those grounds will pile up and expand until they clog your pipes.  Instant coffee is the only kind that dissolves completely in hot water.

Can Coffee Grounds Go Down the Sink?

Whether you’re a coffee newbie or a budding connoisseur, some things can only be learned over time, like the right amount of coffee to put into the basket, the perfect-sized filters, and what to do with those grounds when you’re done with them.

Most people throw coffee grounds in the trash, but they do have other uses, as we’ll discuss below. They should not, however, be dumped down the sink under any circumstance. Contrary to what you may have heard, coffee grounds are not good for your drains or garbage disposal. 

Coffee has natural oils that are extracted along with the liquid when coffee is brewed. These oils leave a residue in your coffee maker and the bottom of your cup as well. This oily residue is what makes the grounds clump together and stick to the sides of the pipes. 

How do all those coffee grounds get in there anyway?  Much of it comes from dumping and rinsing your plastic coffee baskets directly over the drain. Paper coffee filters keep most of them inside the basket, but some often make it into the glass pot of the coffee maker and then in your cup.

The problem is that some of the grounds stick to the bottom of those reusable plastic filter baskets when they are dumped and then get washed down the drain when you clean your reusable filter

How to Unclog a Sink Clogged With Coffee Grounds

The first step is to try to get rid of the clog by running water through it. If that doesn’t work, pour baking soda down the drain and then follow up with vinegar, which will help break down any food particles as well as neutralize any smells coming from the drain.

Let it sit for a few minutes, and then run hot water down the drain. If the sink drains, let the water run for a few minutes to make sure it clears your household pipes.

If your sink is full of water and will not drain, you may need to use a sink plunger to try and break up the grounds and loosen the suction. Plunge it a few times, and see what happens. Once the sink drains, follow up by cleaning the sink with hot, soapy water and letting it go down the drain. 

If all else fails, remove the P- trap underneath your sink to drain the contents of the pipe. It is a U-shaped piece of pipe connecting your sink and drain. When sinks get clogged, this is often the fastest way to clear them. If this doesn’t work, you’ve got a bigger problem and should call a plumber. 

How to Dispose of Coffee Grounds The Right Way

The proper way to dispose of coffee grounds is to remove the filter from your coffee maker after brewing and discard the used grounds in the trash bin. 

However, there are many practical uses for used coffee grounds, so why throw them away? Coffee grounds have a multitude of uses around the home and in the garden. The dried grounds can be added directly to the soil around your plants or to your compost pile to serve as fertilizer. You can compost the filters too.

Coffee grounds contain nitrogen, which is an important nutrient for plants. When added to soil, they can help prevent plants from becoming overly acidic because they neutralize soil acidity. Coffee grounds also contain other nutrients that plants need to grow well, such as phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium. Additionally, they attract worms, which are beneficial for the soil. 

Add coffee grounds to your garden beds

Add 1 part coffee grounds to 3 parts soil to help improve soil structure and fertility in your garden beds.

Use ground coffee as mulch

Coffee grounds make excellent mulch around roses and other plants with shallow root systems because they prevent weeds from growing while still allowing water penetration into the soil below.

More uses for coffee grounds

  • Mix them with coconut oil for a natural body scrub.
  • Rub your hands with coffee grounds to get rid of cooking odors.
  • Spread coffee grounds around ant hills to repel ants.
  • Use them around trees as a repellent to squirrels.
  • Spread them around plants to keep snails and slugs out of your garden.
  • Use them anywhere in your garden to deter cats from using it as a litter box. 

What’s Next?

Now that you know how to properly dispose of coffee grounds, they should never end up in your sink again. When the coffee is done brewing, discard the grounds or save them for later use. A clogged sink is a hassle, so make sure you always dispose of your coffee grounds properly!

These rules apply whether you are making French press coffee or drip coffee, and even for espresso machines. Coffee pods like those used in Nespresso machines and Keurig coffee makers have their own disposal rules, and many of them are even recyclable. As a general rule, though, no solids from any type of coffee maker should ever go in your sink!

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