How To Unclog A Sink Clogged With Coffee Grounds

Patricia Oelze
by Patricia Oelze

If nobody ever told you not to pour coffee grounds down your sink into the garbage disposal, now you know. Coffee grounds are not supposed to go down the drain. Throw them in the garbage or use them for your garden compost. They are good for your soil.

There are several ways to get that coffee ground clog out of your sink. You can use a plunger to force the blockage. You can also use a plumbing snake. If those do not work, take apart the drain and clean the p-trap and other pipes. If all else fails, call a plumber.

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Trying the Easiest Thing First

Always try the easiest fix first. What’s the easiest fix? Got a plunger? That is what you should try first. Be sure to get a plunger with a flat rubber cup at the end. Do not use the flange toilet plunger that has the extra flap on the end of it. Also, make sure there is enough water in the sink to cover the rubber cup.

If you have a double sink, seal one side while you plunge with the other one. Otherwise, the air will come up the other side. Hold the plunger by the handle and push up and down about 10 times. You may have to do it several times to get the clog to move.

Snaking Comes Next

If the plunger did not get rid of that coffee clog, get the plumbing snake. This one is pretty easy too. All you need is a plumbing snake and some gloves. Put the end of the snake into the drain as far as it will go and turn the crank. The crank should push the snake further into the drain. When it reaches the obstruction, it should be able to clear the clog.

Take it Apart

Well, if you are down to this section, you are probably still having trouble getting your sink to drain. That means it is time to take the sink apart. At least, take the p-trap off. It is not very difficult. Just follow these simple steps.

Step One: Get Your Tools Together

First, you will need to get a few basic tools, including:

  • Plumbing snake
  • Wire pipe cleaner
  • Gloves
  • Bucket
  • Wrench
  • Pliers

Step Two: Remove the P-Trap

Put the gloves on first to protect your hands from any gunk and other disgusting sludge in the sink. You may be surprised at the stuff that collects in a sink when it gets clogged. Put the bucket underneath the p-trap and unscrew the coupling nuts to get the p-trap off. If you cannot remove them by hand, use the pliers or wrench.

Step Three: Clean Out the P-Trap

If you can see any coffee grounds, food, or hair in any of the openings or in the p-trap, pull it out and throw it away. Push the wire pipe cleaner in and out of the p-trap while rotating it.

You can also run hot water through it while you clean it. But use a different sink. Brush the p-trap until it is completely clean on the inside. If you cannot get it all out, you may need a new p-trap.

Step Four: Snake the Drain

After cleaning out the p-trap, run the plumbing snake in and out of the sink drain as well as the wall drain. Push the snake as far as it will go and crank the handle. Just like snaking the sink, you may have to do this several times.

Step Five: Put the P-Trap Back On

Once you have everything cleaned out, hopefully, you have found the coffee grounds that were clogging up the sink. If not, maybe they were pushed through the system with the snake. Either one is fine. Now you can replace the p-trap by securing it with the coupling nuts. Do not overtighten them but make sure they are tight.

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Related Questions

Can I Use Liquid Plumr or Drano?

Do not reach for the chemicals to pour down the sink. Even if they did work, which they probably won’t, they can also damage the pipes. And if you have a septic system, pouring any kind of chemicals into your sink can kill the bacteria needed to keep your system flowing smoothly.Keep it natural. If you really want to try pouring something down the drain to clear the clog, try natural concoctions. There are quite a few options you can find online. Here are a few that may help.

Products to UseHow Much to UseWhat to Do
Baking soda and vinegarCombine ½ cup baking soda with ¼ cup salt and pour it down the drain.Then pour in one cup of warm vinegar. Cover the drain and leave for 30 minutes.
Baking soda and lemon juiceFirst, pour a ½ cup baking soda into the sink. Then pour ½ cup lemon juice in.Wait an hour and then pour a pot of hot water into the sink.
Baking soda and cream of tartarMix 1/8 cup cream of tartar with two cups of baking soda and ½ cup salt.Add two cups of hot water and leave it for an hour.
Detergent and waterPour two tablespoons of dishwashing liquid into a pot of boiling water.After it is mixed well, pour it down the drain and wait 30 minutes. You should do this once a week.
Borax and vinegarTake ¼ cup salt, ¼ cup Borax, and ½ cup vinegar. Mix well and pour down the sink.Add a pot of hot water and let it sit for at least an hour.

How Do Coffee Grounds Clog Up the Sink?

Even though coffee grounds are organic, they can still clog the drain because the small pieces can stick to the inside of the drains. Especially if you have an accordion-style pipe. You may be thinking that coffee should dissolve in water, right? Well, that only works with instant coffee.

Have you ever accidentally spilled wet coffee grounds anywhere? If so, you probably know how hard it is to clean them up. In fact, you are probably still finding coffee grounds on the floor. Wet coffee grounds stick to anything. And the coffee grains in your sink will find a way to stick to the inside of your pipes no matter how hard you run the water through it. So, just don’t do it.

There are many other things that can clog up your sink. Even if you have a garbage disposal, some things are just not made to go down the sink. Some of these may be just common sense while others are not so obvious. Here are some things not to put down the sink:

  • Grease, fat, and oil
  • Fruit and vegetable peels
  • Stickers from your fruit and veggies
  • Eggshells
  • Potato skins
  • Starchy food like corn, celery, and potatoes
  • Onion skins
  • Medications
  • Cosmetics and moisturizers
  • Hair
  • Household cleaners
  • Napkins or paper towels

The best thing to do is to not put anything down the drain except for water and dish soap. If you have a garbage disposal, you can safely dispose of soft and liquid foods but nothing large or starchy. And when you run your garbage disposal, make sure you run the water with it and continue to run it for a minute afterward to wash it all down.

Patricia Oelze
Patricia Oelze

I am a DIYer who loves writing about anything home-related. When I am not writing, you can find me studying for my PhD in Psychology, photographing nature, and swimming at the lake with my grandkids.

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