It is no secret how much plumbers love a cup of coffee, so it is somewhat ironic that coffee grounds can be the bane of our trade! Whilst the majority of the estimated 15 million tonnes of spent coffee grounds generated every year are thrown away or composted, there are still plenty of grounds finding their way down our sinks. In fact, in our experience, leftover coffee grounds are the biggest cause of blocked sinks and drains in domestic properties. Here are our favourite five things to do with leftover coffee grounds to avoid them causing a frustrating and time-consuming clog.
Use as insect repellent
Most insects have a powerful sense of smell, in fact, insects can smell and differentiate between thousands of volatile compounds to aid them in finding a mate, locating food, and avoiding predators. Intense aromas and acids like the ones emitted from coffee grounds are particularly loathed by insects, especially ants, so why not use leftover grounds to deter insects and fight off those pests?
- Prevent ants wandering into your home by spreading an inch-thick line around any areas of your home that are prone to them. Refresh the line with fresh grounds every week or two.
- Sick of slugs and snails ruining your plants? Spread grounds around your pots and borders – a gentle sprinkling should do the trick.
- Chase fleas from your pets with a coffee ground wash. Just remember to do this outside!
- Banish mozzies by targeting larvae. Aged coffee is more effective at killing larvae than fresh coffee, so collect leftover coffee grounds in a jar for about a month, then sprinkle around garden plants and trees where water pools (mosquitos love breeding in stagnant water). This will help prevent mozzie larvae from taking over.
Top tip: It is said that coffee grounds are most potent when they are burned. Simply wait for the used coffee grounds to completely DRY out.
Place the dry grounds in a bowl or on a flat surface outside (out of reach from both children and animals). Simply burn the grounds like you would incense – add a few drops of lighter fluid and set light to them.
Compost coffee grounds for nutrient-rich fertiliser
Add your used coffee grounds to your compost bin or garden. The grounds are great for compost as they add nitrogen – the secret ingredient that helps organic materials breakdown into mulch and eventually, become a nutrient-rich fertiliser. Worms love nitrogen-rich soil so they will love helping breakdown all your composted materials. Used coffee grounds are also rich in a host of other vitamins and minerals, making them a good fertiliser, so don’t be afraid to spread them around your garden. Just make sure you are not adding to any plants that could be negatively affected by a boost in soil acidity.
If greasy pots and pans are giving you trouble, try sprinkling some coffee grounds on your sponge along with soap. It is much less abrasive than something like steel wool but will still give the grease and gunk a good run for its money.
Use in the winter months
Who knew that coffee grounds make for an effective de-icer? It’s true, and unlike salt, coffee grounds do not pose any environmental harm. Nitrogen is a known ice-melter, and as we have already established, used grounds are rich in nitrogen. They provide touch points that increase friction, to make it easier to walk on and reduce the risk of slipping.
Plus, did you know your used ground coffee waste can be used to heat your home this winter? You can buy fuel for open fires and wood burners made from compacted coffee grounds and you may even want to have a go at making your own log. Check out how to make a log for your fire using coffee grounds.
Natural air freshener
If you have a stinky shoe cupboard or whiffy fridge, put a handful of dry coffee grounds in a dish and they will soak up all the odours around them.
How to fix a drain clogged by coffee grounds
Electric waste disposal units have made it easy to get rid of food waste and kitchen scraps. However, plumbing pipes and waste disposals are not designed to safely handle some waste matter like coffee grounds. Unfortunately, most people dump them down the drainage.
The fine consistency of coffee grounds makes them easy to stick onto other debris existing within the pipes, resulting in a blocked pipe. Luckily, clearing clogs resulting from coffee grounds is not difficult.
Here is how to unclog a sink:
- Plunge the sink. If plunging fails to dislodge the clog, then you will need to remove the sink P-trap to clear the stubborn coffee debris. The sink P-trap is a U-shaped piece of pipe found below the sink. It is more commonly referred to as the U-bend.
- To clear the sink P-trap you will need to:
– Place a bucket beneath the tap to catch any water that may spill when opening it.
– Once you have located the trap, loosen the nuts connecting it to the drain line from both ends. Loosen by turning the nuts anticlockwise.
– Pull the trap from the pipe. Ensure the bucket is positioned well to catch anything that may fall from the trap or drainpipes.
– Inspect the trap and remove any debris either with a gloved hand or with something sturdy and pointed (like a screwdriver). Rinse the trap thoroughly to remove anything that should not be there. Look through the pipes that connect the trap from the affected sink to the main drain line to make sure there are no blockages left behind.
- Reattach the sink P-trap. Tighten the trap connections by rotating the nuts clockwise.
- Once everything is back in place, turn on the sink faucet to check that the blockage has been completely cleared.
If you are unable to successfully unblock the sink by yourself, or you are just not keen on getting your hands dirty and need a professional to remedy the problem, the team at Maintracts are here for all your general plumbing repairs and maintenance needs.
Contact us today, and we will do our best to reply as soon as we possibly can.