Having a garbage disposal in your kitchen can be quite convenient. However, if you’re not careful about what you try to run through the disposal, it won’t be all that long before it stops working, and you have to replace it. In light of this, here is a full guide to help you understand what you can and can’t put in your garbage disposal.

How to Safely Put Food in a Garbage Disposal

The biggest mistake most people make when using their garbage disposal is that they end up treating it like a second trash can. Despite its name, a garbage disposal isn’t designed to be able to handle all of your trash. Instead, it is mostly there to take care of smaller bits of scraps and food that get washed down the sink.

Garbage disposals can handle a lot of different food scraps as long as they are in small enough pieces that they can easily go down the drain and not clog the disposal. Still, this doesn’t mean that you can suddenly feel free to scrape your plates off into the disposal instead of using the trash can.

Whenever you are using the disposal, you also need to make sure that you are always running cold water down the drain. This makes it easier for the disposal to pulverize the scraps and also helps to flush them down the drain. In addition, you should also always try to avoid putting any of the following things down the disposal.

Fats, Oils and Grease

Fats, oils and grease generally won’t have any effect on your garbage disposal itself, but you should still never put them down the drain. These substances are some of the biggest contributors to clogged drains and other plumbing issues, and they can also wreak havoc on the municipal sewer system. Rinsing a bit of grease off your plates generally won’t cause any issues, but you definitely don’t want to pour all that bacon grease down the drain.

The issue is that any type of animal or vegetable fat can solidify and begin to collect on the inside of your drains and pipes. This forms a sticky mess that will then begin to trap food particles, toilet paper and any other solids that go down the drain.

Unfortunately, many people mistakenly believe that it is fine to put fat or grease down the drain as long as you flush it down with lots of hot water. It is true that the hot water will prevent these substances from solidifying and collecting in the drain. However, the water will still quickly cool off as it moves through your sewer system to the point where any fats can solidify before they reach the municipal sewer main out in the street.

Nuts

Have you ever seen how peanut butter is made? It basically involves grinding up the nuts into a thick paste, and this is exactly what will happen if you try to run any type of nuts through your garbage disposal. Putting nuts inside a garbage disposal will lead to a thick, sticky paste that will coat the inside of the unit and your pipes. As with fats, this can cause the drain to become clogged or stick to the pipes and grab onto other solids.

Egg Shells and Onion Peels

Egg shells on their own aren’t really a problem as they are brittle enough for the garbage disposal to easily break them up. The issue is the slimy membrane inside of the shells, which can easily get stuck to the garbage disposal impeller and bind it up. The membrane can also get stuck inside the drain and lead to a clog. This is the same reason that you should never put onion peels down the drain, as the slimy inner layer of the peel can also cause the same issue.

Coffee Grounds

Some people attempt to make their garbage disposal smell better by periodically running coffee grounds through it. This is another one of those items that won’t damage your disposal, but it will greatly increase the risk of your drain getting clogged. When coffee grounds get wet, they form a thick, solid clump that can easily get stuck inside your pipes and cause a blockage.

Fibrous Fruits and Vegetables

Putting any type of fibrous fruit or vegetable in your garbage disposal is also a bad idea. This includes things like banana peels, pumpkin guts, corn husks and silk, celery, rhubarb or other similar items. Fibers can get wrapped around the blades or impeller and bind up the disposal, so it stops working. If this happens, it may be necessary to take the garbage disposal apart or otherwise try to unblock it manually. Small pieces of celery and other similar things are usually not an issue, as the fibers should be short enough that they won’t bind up the blades.

Potato Peels, Pasta and Other Starchy Foods

Any food that is high in starch should also never go down your garbage disposal. One of the absolute worst is potato peels. If you try to run the peels through your disposal, they can both bind up the impellers and create a thick, starchy mass that can clog your drain and collect other solids.

Pasta and rice should also be avoided. These foods can continue to absorb a lot of water even when they’re cooked. They will pass through your garbage disposal without a problem. However, if they get stuck further along inside your pipes, they can quickly absorb enough water and swell to the point that they cause a clog.

Bones and Shells

Even though the metal blades inside a garbage disposal are quite strong, there are still some items that are simply too hard for the blades to handle properly. This includes any type of bones, fruit pits and stones, pistachio shells and the shells from lobsters, crabs and other seafood.

These items can easily get stuck between the two blades and seize the disposal up. Your disposal can typically handle the occasional peach pit or bone without issue. However, the more solids you put into the disposal, the faster the blades will become dull and cause the disposal to no longer work properly.

All Non-Food Items

Again, your garbage disposal is only designed to handle some smaller, softer foods and should not be used for any type of trash. Napkins, paper towels, food and candy wrappers and plastics are all typically soft enough for the disposal to chop up, but they will still easily get stuck inside your plumbing system and lead to a clog. In the worst-case scenario, they could cause a major clog in your main sewer line that leads to sewage backing up and overflowing out of your toilets and drains.

Professional Plumbing and HVAC Services

If you have issues with your garbage disposal or are looking to have one installed, On Time Experts is here to help. We also install and repair all other plumbing appliances and fixtures, including sinks, toilets and water heaters, and our team specializes in drain cleaning and leak detection as well.

If you’re experiencing any problems with your home’s air conditioning or heating systems, we can help with that as well. We service and repairs all models of air conditioners, furnaces and other HVAC units, and we also specialize in duct cleaning and indoor air quality services. Give On Time Experts a call today if you need your garbage disposal repaired or any other type of plumbing or HVAC service in Garland, TX.

Meet the Author
Randy Kelley
Randy Kelley

Owner

company icon