Keeping our garbage disposal clean and safe means knowing what can and cannot go into it. The coffee grounds are an item that we may have a lot of deliberation about, especially due to their frequent use within the kitchen. That’s why we’ll cover whether you can put coffee grounds in the garbage disposal and what other items should be avoided.
Can you put coffee grounds in the garbage disposal?
There are plentiful items that should never be flushed down our garbage disposal. However, the most problematic ones are items and things we will usually be using near the garbage disposal. These items are consistently close to going into our garbage disposal intentionally or accidentally.
Coffee grounds are one of the most frequent ones in this department. The sheer omnipresent nature of coffee in people’s homes makes it so. Even if you aren’t a fan of it, it’s very likely somebody in the household still drinks coffee.
Unfortunately, that means coffee grounds will always be near the drain, threatening our garbage disposal.
So what does coffee do to the garbage disposal and why shouldn’t we pour it down?
The coffee grounds may seem like an easy thing to flush down because it looks like powder. Meaning there’s nothing apparent that may trouble the garbage disposal at first.
However, when in contact with water, coffee grounds will quickly become a thick paste that can stick to pipes and elements of garbage disposal. This thick paste is much harder to wash down and if it sticks around after water has been turned off, it will most likely solidify.
This paste can easily cause problems in the installations. From clogs to wearing out the materials, coffee grounds can be a true menace on the entire system. That’s why it’s generally recommended to dispose of coffee grounds by putting them in the garbage bin instead. 
However, if you do dispose of them through the garbage disposal, make sure to run a lot of water after you do so. Rinsing out the pipes quickly and for a prolonged period of time can clean out the grounds before paste starts causing issues.
Generally, it’s much safer to avoid it altogether and retain the safety of your pipes.
Worst foods for garbage disposal
Of course, coffee isn’t alone when it comes to items that can absolutely ruin our garbage disposal. We will be going over some of the most frequently troublesome foods that can screw up your garbage disposal in order to prevent mistakes.
The first item on our list is also one of the more common foods one may end up using in their kitchen. Rice has a lot of starch, an undesirable trait for an item we wish to flush down the garbage disposal. This is due to the properties foods with a lot of starch possess.
The rice may start off small, but due to the starch within it and the water it absorbs from the outside, rice is capable of growing far larger. As a result, it can easily double in size, potentially even triple, depending on the circumstances and the type of rice.
Starch-filled foods are a frequent problem for garbage disposal, especially due to their frequency. Don’t be fooled by how plain and common these foods are, especially rice.
All it takes is a bit of it in the wrong place to jam up the works fully. Obstructing the garbage disposal blades, clogging the pipes, and many other side effects are common when rice is put in the garbage disposal.
What else would we aim to put in the garbage disposal but peels from our food prep? Potatoes, vegetables, and all sorts of other foods are probably the first thing we aim to shove down the garbage disposal as soon as the meal prep is done.
However, while some bits and pieces of these foods are okay to flush down the garbage disposal, peels aren’t.
Vegetable peelings are the most common culprit in this category. Preparing any meal is bound to include some vegetables, even if it’s just us peeling potatoes in order to make french fries.
The vegetable peelings will not work well with our garbage disposal, getting stuck on blades and slowing the disposal down, if not outright stopping it. With vegetable peelings we can expect clogs without any question. The vegetable peelings are best avoided and simply thrown into the garbage bin.
A common source of problems with just about any part of our household, grease is a consistent source of problematic material that will spare no time in clogging and wearing out our pipes. The danger of grease is no less present with the garbage disposal.
The garbage disposal can easily be obstructed by grease that sticks to it and solidifies. Once grease comes to this point, it is likely the very functionality of garbage disposal will be compromised. Our septic tank will also not like grease so avoiding it is perfect for any part of our installations. 
Another common food within every kitchen is likely going to be a source of garbage as well. These being eggs because of their eggshells. Eggshells are yet another item that can cause clogs in the garbage disposal.
As you can imagine, the small bits and pieces of eggshells aren’t favorites of any piping system, so it makes sense they’d be troublesome for garbage disposal too.
Eggshells can easily stick throughout the entire flow of the installation, resulting in a variety of odd clogs. While it may seem like a fragile enough shell, it does have somewhat flexible and resilient material in it, which will come back to cause issues when put into the garbage disposal. 
What to put in garbage disposal for smell
After some use, our garbage disposal can quickly turn into a source of bad smell in the household. No matter how much attention and care we give it with items we put inside, it’s inevitable that all the garbage being poured down will eventually start to smell as bits and pieces of it stick to the disposal.
Sometimes, these remains are microscopic, representing the bacteria that stick on the elements of the garbage disposal rather than the actual bits of food.
In these cases, we need a quick solution to freshen up the garbage disposal without investing a ton of time into cleaning it out thoroughly. 
- Baking soda and white vinegar
The most common way to deal with a bad odor is with baking soda and white vinegar. This is a reliable and eco-friendly way of resolving the issue of bad smells within garbage disposal.
For this method to take effect, you should pour a quarter cup of baking soda into your garbage disposal, quickly followed by a cup of white vinegar. This combination will produce a reaction that will bubble up and kill microscopic organisms that cause the odor.
The mixture should be left to bubble for a couple of minutes. That way, it will scrub off all the problematic filth from the disposal. After that, run water through the disposal to quickly clean the mineral deposits and germs.
- Salt and ice
Another way we can deal with the problem without getting special cleaning items is by using salt and ice. However, this method is a bit different. First, you’ll need to put two cups of ice cubes into the garbage disposal. Then, follow it with a single cup of rock salt.
Once the two ingredients have been poured in, run cold water over them while keeping the garbage disposal on. It won’t take too long, usually around 10 to 15 seconds, to feel the effects of the mixture. This combination will easily dislodge and clear out food particles from the garbage disposal. It’s one of the most efficient ways to clear the garbage disposal and a very cheap one to boot.
All citrus fruit share a very useful trait when it comes to cleaning. Citrus fruits are acidic but not too much. This acidity allows them to eat away at the dirt and grime without damaging the garbage disposal.
The citrus fruits are also full of natural oils with antibacterial properties. The comofrtable smell of citrus is another great bonus to its cleaning potency.
The citrus fruit rinds are enough to activate the oil effects. This includes any citrus fruits, be it oranges, lemons, grapefruits, or limes, so no matter what citrus you prefer in your home, there’ll be extra use for it.
We will get extra value out of citrus as it has a nice smell. This refreshing, pleasant smell will keep the garbage disposal properly clear of any stink. Of course, it’s possible to cut up entire fruits for this too, but it isn’t required.
Going down the list of more common items that can treat the smell of our garbage disposal, we have mouthwash. You may be surprised, but the original application of mouthwash was that of an antiseptic treatment item.
It stands to reason that the antiseptic qualities of mouthwash stuck. Mouthwash is capable of killing germs no matter whether those are found in a person’s mouth or their garbage disposal.
Furthermore, the application is exceptionally simple. Just using a cup of mouthwash for a refreshing experience is enough.
The smells and flavors present in the mouthwash will make it so the newly cleaned garbage disposal stays free of odors for a longer time. If you have no time and the other simple items aren’t on hand, mouthwash will do fine.
Now for a bit less common tool to get rid of the smells. Borax is a natural mineral that has the appearance of white powder. It has a lot of soft and colorless crystals which can easily dissolve into the water.
This powerful mineral is potent at destroying even the toughest of debris and eliminating odors wherever they may stick. A simple half cup of borax is enough to cleanse the garbage disposal. If you reapply it every week, there should never again be issues with bad odors. 
In the end, it would seem that coffee grounds aren’t a very fitting item to flush down garbage disposal. However, we shouldn’t forget that the benefit of garbage disposal is lost if it gets clogged by any of the other items we flush down it.
To keep your garbage disposal consistently functional, avoid the dangerous foods and make sure to clean it out when necessary. Even when the garbage disposal’s only noticeable side effect is smell, something is going on in the inside.
We hope that this extra information will aid you in maintaining a healthy and stable garbage disposal without any odd problems to deal with due to neglect. Of course, some issues may be far bigger, in which case you should
Michael Davis is a heating & plumbing expert who currently works as independent contractor in SC. He also writes for Plumbertip.
For almost 10 years he worked on various plumbing tasks across South Carolina.