Coffee grounds

Are coffee grounds bad for drains?

If you’re here, you’re a coffee drinker. And you’re in good company! For most American coffee drinkers consume around 2 to 3 cups of coffee per day. Every day begins roughly the same way with pots of coffee brewed up while getting ready to head to the office. Those pots of coffee of course leave behind used coffee grounds.

Coffee grounds can be used for a variety of things though once they’ve served their purpose for brewing coffee. You’ll find plenty of uses for them later on in this article so keep on reading, but for most people, coffee grounds wind up in the trash.

The one place they shouldn’t go though? Your drain! Are coffee grounds bad for drains? Yes!

Should you wake up bleary-eyed and accidentally drop coffee grounds into the reservoir of your coffee maker, creating a sludgy coffee with grounds at the bottom of the pot, throwing that down the drain usually won’t be problematic. If, however, you dispose of your coffee grounds down your drain on the regular, you’re in for trouble.

Read on and you’ll find out how to put your coffee ground to better use once they’ve brewed up your favorite roast for the day!

Are coffee grounds bad for drains?

Coffee grounds should not be going down your drain. In fact, they’re one of the biggest culprits for clogged drains right up there with oil, grease, and fats. If it’s just a little bit of grounds from the bottom of the pot, it won’t do any harm, but regularly disposing of your coffee grounds down the drain will cause them to build up and pack together. As they clump, they’ll cause problems for your drain.

Coffee grounds are indeed great for getting rid of odors which is why some people seem to think dumping them down the garbage disposal will be helpful. Unfortunately, due to their clumping nature, they won’t break down in the water but will bind together and wind up clogging your pipes.

When your pipes are clogged, you’ll have to get a plumber to come out and help or attempt to do it yourself. If you’re not keen on either option, then stop putting your coffee grounds down the drain. You can reuse them in many other ways if you’d like to explore those further down. To keep your garbage disposal from letting off a stink, use slices of lemon and ice cubes.

Why you should not use your coffee grounds for your drain

Don’t panic if you’ve allowed a few coffee grounds here and there to go down the drain. But if you’re regularly putting large amounts down there at once, you could wind up with a clog.

On top of their natural ability to clump together when wet, coffee grounds can also attract grease. So when you’re washing your pots and pans after cooking dinner, those oils and greases build up and stick to the coffee grounds, resulting in a clog.

If you think it’s wasteful to just ditch your coffee grounds in the garbage, you can employ them in other ways. A compost pile is a great place to put them since they release nutrients back into the soil for a more acidic composition. This makes it easier for your plants to draw the nutrients they need.

Coffee grounds in your garden can keep away stray animals or your neighbor’s curious pets, especially when mixed with orange peels. It’s an eco-friendly and animal-safe way to repel unwanted creatures from coming around.

It’s said that ants also despise coffee grounds. If you’re not keen on dumping poisons or spraying sprays around the interior or exterior of your home, coffee grounds can be a natural solution. They can even be used in lieu of baking soda to deodorize your fridge.

Can coffee grounds damage your pipes?

Are you a plumber? If not, do you happen to know how much the plumbers in your area charge on average? It might be good to find out, especially if you keep dumping coffee grounds down your drain.

Coffee grounds can damage your pipes. Because for most people out there, it’s not just coffee grounds going down the drain. It’s also grease and oil from your pans. And if you didn’t already know bacon grease should never go down the drain, now you know!

All those things can combine together further down in the pipes. When they do, they create an epic sludge that bonds much like cement. The only way to get rid of it is to replace the piping on the plumbing fixture, which is not a cheap fix.  

For ages, the old wives’ tale was that putting coffee grounds down the sink every day is good. But ask any plumber and they’ll tell you to never do that. As mentioned, if a few grounds slip into the pot when you clumsily made coffee this morning and you pour that little bit out in the sink to wash the carafe, it’s not a big deal. But every day, if you keep dumping the entire contents of coffee grounds from your coffeemaker down the drain, you’d be wise to find a good, honest plumber.

If it feels disheartening to know you’re not getting another beneficial use out of coffee grounds and you don’t want to just toss them in your trash can, use them in your garden, start that compost pile, or repel gross insects from your yard. And should you not have a yard or garden to speak of, you can store them in an airtight container and give them to someone that does. Even your happy little houseplants on your windowsill can benefit from used coffee grounds.

Keep reading for more details on how to save those coffee grounds and use them for the greater good, without clogging up your drain!

How to Save Coffee Grounds for Later Use

So now that you know that putting coffee grounds down your drain is bad news, it’s time to find out how to put them to better use!

Take a coffee filter and put it in your sink above the drain. Then pour those remaining grounds into the filter. You can then gather up the sides of the filter carefully and move it from your sink without making a spectacular mess. If you use a coffeemaker, you can simply pull the coffee filter with the grounds out, again being cautious since it’s flimsier now and more prone to spilling.

Once you’ve got those grounds ready, you can use them and reap the many benefits besides merely making a lovely pot of coffee every morning.

– Use them in your garden

Plants love coffee almost as much as humans do. Those coffee grounds make the soil more acidic which makes getting the nutrition they need easier for your plants. This is also an ideal alternative if you’re not fully composting. You can spread your coffee grounds around the dirt of your garden and yard.

When you do, it does even more than boost plant growth. It keeps pests away like ants and slugs. Now you can enjoy your garden and yard even more in the spring and summer without creepy, crawly things bugging you!

– Give indoor plants some love too

Indoor plants can also enjoy your coffee grounds. If you don’t have your own garden to speak of, perhaps living in a high-rise, you can nourish house plants in the same fashion. No green thumb needed for this technique either!

– Keep your fridge fresh

One of the most embarrassing things when guests come over is to have a refrigerator that stinks to high heaven. Even if nothing is rotting away in the back where your spouse left it, if you regularly cook pungent meals, the odors can penetrate and make everything, even your fruit, take on an unwanted flavor. Plus, every time you open your fridge, that odor will waft out and upset the nostrils.

Never worry about unsavory odors in your fridge again with your coffee grounds. Just find a small container and fill it with your used coffee grounds. Leave the container open and set it in the back of your fridge for a natural odor-buster.

– Make magnificent natural skincare products

Coffee grounds are an amazing asset to have as far as beautifying goes too. There’s no need to spend a fortune on a spa treatment. Simply save your used coffee grounds and mix them with coconut oil for an exfoliating treatment that invigorates your skin. You can also create a spa-spectacular facial with coffee grounds and cocoa powder. Use 2 teaspoonfuls of each plus 3 teaspoonfuls of milk. Mix it a tablespoon of raw organic honey and you’ll have an amazing facial experience at home.

Word to the wise: add a coffee filter or mesh sieve at the drain when rinsing or else you’ll wind up clogging your bathroom drains too!

– Naturally cleanse hair of product residue

You can also use those used coffee grounds on your hair. This helps work like a clarifying shampoo to remove buildup from your styling products. Your hair will feel fresh and revitalized. Again though, make sure you capture the grounds with a sieve or filter to prevent them from going down the drain. You can also go out in the yard and use the garden hose to rinse your hair of the grounds and right into your ground to further repurpose them.

How to fix a drain that’s clogged with coffee grounds

Most of us take our garbage disposal for granted. After all, they can easily destroy our food scraps and keep our trash from bowling us over before trash day rolls around. While the garbage disposal is a handy appliance in the kitchen, it’s not made to endure everything, like potato peels, celery, and coffee grounds. That plus your greases and oils can lead to a massive obstruction.

If you’re a little handy and the clog isn’t deep down in the pipes, you can get it unclogged yourself with a few DIY tricks. Hopefully, you’ll stop the habit of dumping your coffee grounds down the drain altogether now though. Here are some things you can try on your own first before calling a plumber.

– Use a plunger

It’s important to note that you should have a small plunger for your sink for this. You’ll need to fill up your sink that contains the clog with enough water so that the rubber cup of your plunger is completely underwater.

If you have a double sink in your kitchen, you’ll want to seal the drain on the other side of it with a rubber drain stop. Don’t have one? Use a small rag to cover it.

Once that’s covered, take the plunger’s handle with both hands and push down so the rubber cup is right on top of that drain opening. Push up and down about 15 times and the drain should start to clear if all goes well.

If not, you can try the next option which involves clearing the P-trap.

– Clearing the P-trap

The next way to clear your drain of coffee grounds is a little more involved. You’ll need to get under the sink. You should see a pipe shaped like a U. It’s called a P-trap. If your efforts with the plunger were fruitless, go grab a bucket and set it up underneath that P-trap.

Next, you’ll need to loosen both connecting ends of the P-trap. Metal pipes will require the use of a wrench so you can turn the nuts that connect it. Turn counter-clockwise until it starts loosening. For plastic pipes, you can loosen them with your hands, also turning in a counter-clockwise motion.

After you loosen it, remove the P-trap. This is where that bucket comes in. Having it right there will ensure that whatever is in the pipes will drop down into the bucket rather than into the interior of the cabinet which would be messy.

You might want to wear gloves for the next part. You can poke your gloved fingers into the P-trap or better yet, use a screwdriver or something else pointy to jostle it out into your awaiting bucket. Then you can rinse it with water until nothing is left blocking it. While you’re down there, shine a flashlight into those other pipes while you have the P-trap off and see if there are any other obstructions. If not, you can reattach that P-trap and get on with your life.

Make sure you tighten it back on by turning the connections on each side clockwise. This should do the trick. Turn on your faucet to be sure that all is flowing well. If not, it’s a sign something is lurking further in the pipes that you’ll need a plumber to help you with. Hopefully though, this will be the end of your clogged drain drama and you’ll now be more vigilant about what you put down the drain.


Coffee grounds are not good for your drain. Yes, they absorb odors but in the drain, they can mix with grease and oils to form a clog and really mess things up. If you want to reuse your coffee grounds after you make your morning brew, do so in your garden, in your fridge, or in any one of the ways mentioned above for a better alternative that won’t stop up your life!


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