Coffee Grounds Garbage Disposal Hack: Tips & Tricks

Say goodbye to that bad sink smell! This money-saving coffee ground garbage disposal hack can save you time and money.

Have you been noticing a bad smell in your kitchen? Perhaps, you just got home from a long day and walked into your kitchen only to notice an unpleasant odor wafting from the drain. Upon closer examination, you find that it is coming from a smelly garbage disposal. We've all been there!

The good news is that there are plenty of cheap and easy ways to get rid of that gross garbage disposal aroma! In fact, you can use this “coffee grounds garbage disposal hack” to reduce bad odors and break up decaying debris in up hard-to-reach recesses of your garbage disposal. In this guide, we will discuss how to do it correctly. We will also answer some important scientific questions on how coffee grounds work to eliminate bad smells.

Why does my garbage disposal stink?

No matter how well you stay on top of the dishes and thoroughly clean your sink, garbage disposals can sometimes get stinky. Over time, small particles of food and debris accumulate along the sides of your garbage disposal, underneath its blades, in its grinding chamber, and in other hard-to-reach spots inside of its inner mechanisms. 

Eventually, these tiny food particles begin to decay, producing all kinds of unpleasant odors. Depending on the type of material trapped in your garbage disposal, the smells can range from a little bit stinky to downright rancorous. The more sulfuric the food materials are, the smellier they tend to be. (Sulfur produces that “rotten egg” scent.) 


The Science Behind Coffee Grounds and How They Get Rid of Smells

Coffee is a known odor eliminator. In fact, this is why you often see coffee beans at perfume counters in department stores. Inhaling the fragrance of coffee grounds or beans can effectively “reset” people's sense of smell so that they can distinguish different scents, taste wines, etc. 

How Coffee Grounds Help in a Disposal

So how can coffee grounds help garbage disposal smells and what is the science behind it all? Coffee grounds whir around inside your garbage disposal and dislodge debris through a process of abrasion. Think of it like a little sandblaster inside of your garbage disposal chamber. Coffee grounds are abrasive enough to help break down stuck-on particles, but mild enough that they won’t mess up your garbage disposal blades. In fact, they can even help sharpen them!

However, the abrasive nature of coffee grounds is only one part of the magic that makes them perfect for cleaning your garbage disposal out. Coffee grounds can also produce nitrogen, which removes sulfur from the surrounding air. Caffeine, the stimulant in coffee, contains plenty of nitrogen. Nitrogen and carbon work together to create a process of adsorption, which can clean sulfur from the air. So, between the adsorption and the abrasion, coffee grounds offer the perfect one-two punch for cleaning disposals.

On an interesting side note, people are very sensitive to sulfuric smells but can also grow accustomed to them if exposed to the odor for a certain amount of time. This means that if your garbage disposal is producing rotten egg odors, you may stop noticing them after being exposed to the scent for a while. Then, if you leave your house and return later, the smell will be incredibly obvious. If this is what happened in your situation with the garbage disposal, chances are, sulfur is the culprit, and coffee grounds are the anecdote. 

Now, to really kick up the cleaning power of coffee grounds, you can add a couple of other ingredients to completely get rid of any stinky smells. Namely, baking soda, vinegar, and Epsom salt. All three of these components combine with coffee grounds for the perfect garbage disposal odor-eliminating solution. Plus, this method is affordable and natural! So, you can have your garbage disposal smelling fresh and clean without having to use harmful chemicals or toxic substances. 


The Easiest Coffee Ground Garbage Disposal Hack

Here is a great "coffee grounds and garbage disposal" cleaning trick. You can make use of your old coffee grounds and keep your home smelling fresh and clean without spending a dime!

Okay, so now that you know why coffee grounds are so effective at eliminating odors, let's talk about using them to get rid of any smells in your garbage disposal. An incredibly easy way to use coffee grounds in your garbage disposal is by simply dumping them in there with a few other ingredients and running water. Here are the steps and what you need.

What to Have On-Hand

  • 1/2 Cup Coffee Grounds - Used or stale ones are fine! 
  • 1/2 Cup White Vinegar - You can also use lemon juice, if you prefer. 
  • 2 Tbsp Baking Soda - A fantastic cleaning ingredient for many purposes!
  • 1 Tsp Epsom Salt - Removes mineral build-up and helps to sanitize.

Step 1: Get your used/stale/unwanted coffee grounds, some white vinegar, and baking soda. Set it all aside and turn on your sink. Run hot water in your garbage disposal with it turned OFF for a couple of minutes. The hot water will loosen up and saturate any stuck-on debris in the garbage disposal mechanisms. With the gunk stuck inside softened up, the coffee grounds can really go to work with their abrasive properties. You can let the hot water run into your garbage disposal for about 2 minutes. 

Step 2: Now, turn the hot water off and start dumping the coffee grounds into your garbage disposal. You can put up to ½ of a cup of old coffee grounds in most disposals. You don’t want to go overboard, as you could create a clog if you have too many grounds. If you need to, you can use a spoon or chopstick to help push the grounds down into the disposal into a flat layer within the chamber. Do NOT turn the garbage disposal on yet. 

Step 3: Grab your baking soda and sprinkle 1 to 2 heaping tablespoons on top of the coffee grounds in the disposal chamber. Then, add a couple of tablespoons of white vinegar to the mix. (If you hate the smell of vinegar, you can use lemon juice instead, as it will also react with baking soda.)

At this point, you will start to hear everything fizzing as the baking soda and vinegar react. Let the vinegar, baking soda, and coffee grounds sit in your warmed-up garbage disposal for about 5 minutes to create plenty of nitrogen and CO2. 

Step 4: After 5 minutes or so, turn ON your garbage disposal and tap. As the wet mix whirrs around the grounds head down through your disposal, a gentle stream of lukewarm water will help to rinse everything through. Don’t blast the water, as you want the mixture to whir and loosen things up as much as possible. The goal here is to provide a little bit of rinsing water so you don’t get a clog, while also letting the coffee grounds get worked around in the blades. 

Step 5: Let the garbage disposal run until you hear everything clear out. Then, turn it off. Now, add about a teaspoon of Epsom salts and grind them down the disposal as well. You can finish it all off with one last splash of vinegar in your sink if you like for extra freshness. 

This process should eliminate any odors very effectively. If there are still any lingering smells, repeat these steps until everything is fresh and odorless!



FAQs and on Coffee Grounds in the Garbage Disposal

Now that you have the basic facts about how coffee grounds can be used in the garbage disposal and why they get rid of odors, let’s go over some frequently asked questions on the subject!

Will coffee grounds clog my disposal? 

Coffee grounds will only clog garbage disposals (or your pipes) when sent down in large quantities. Generally, coffee grounds can be safely pulverized in a garbage disposal. They may even help to sharpen its blades! Just run them through in reasonable amounts, no more than half a cup or so at a time. 

Do you use new or old coffee grounds in a sink garbage disposal?

Either will work. New coffee grounds do a better job of producing nitrogen, but used ones are fine as well. No reason to waste your fresh coffee! 

Can coffee grounds grow mold?

Any wet organic material can grow mold. So, if you have a coffee filter filled with old coffee grounds on your counter, send it through your garbage disposal with some vinegar to prevent a moldy mess. The longer an old coffee filter full of wet grounds sits out, the more likely it is that mold will start to grow. A good practice is to immediately clean out your coffee filter after brewing a pot of coffee. That way, things stay nice and clean. 

Can you use coffee grounds for a garden? 

Yes! Coffee grounds can be fantastic for plants. You can read all about how coffee grounds work to help plants grow here. 



Final Thoughts on How to Use Coffee Grounds for Cleaning a Disposal

There you have it! Now you know how to use old coffee grounds to keep your disposal clean and your kitchen fresh. What better excuse do you need to buy more coffee? Shop for delicious fresh coffee here! Drink up, and then use the old grounds to clean out that stinky garbage disposal. 

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