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What Not To Put in the Garbage Disposal?

What Not To Put in the Garbage Disposal?

Most homes now come with a garbage disposal. If you tend to use your disposal regularly, you may wonder what is safe to put through it. 

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Can it handle anything and everything you toss down there?

The short answer is no.

Even though it is called a garbage disposal, it isn’t actually equipped to handle garbage. However, you should try to avoid many other items that are reportedly put down in garbage disposals and cause damage.

We will share the top ten items you should try to keep out of your garbage disposal.

Read on to see how you can keep your garbage disposal running safely.

10 Things To Avoid Putting Down Your Garbage Disposal

Try to avoid putting these top ten common items down the disposal and avoid expensive repairs.

1. Animal Bones

Animal bones left over from cooking are hard and highly dense materials you should avoid putting in your garbage disposal. The disposal does not have sharp blades within the machine but rather a set of impellers that crush items into smaller pieces.

Larger animal bones will likely get tossed around the disposal before being washed further down the pipe, providing an excellent opportunity to form a clog. An occasional small fishbone shouldn’t be a problem, though you won’t want to avoid disposing of them this way.

2. Leftover Cooking Fat, Grease, and Oil

Leftover cooking fat, grease, and oil can also cause problems for your garbage disposal. As these liquids cool, they form a thick, dense substance that sticks to the disposal components.

Over time, this will prevent the impellers from turning or forming a clog further down the line.

To dispose safely of these leftovers, allow all cooking fats, greases, and oils to cool completely. You can then easily scrape the remainder into the garbage can.

3. Seafood Shells

Seafood Shells

Seafood shells range from the thick protective coatings found in lobster and crab to the soft, slippery ones surrounding shrimp. Unfortunately, either can be a problem for your garbage disposal. The hard shells cannot be ground up, and the softer shells can slip into the cracks, causing the disposal to stop working.

Seafood shells that slip through the disposal and lodge in the pipes may also produce an unpleasant, fishy smell down the road.

Ensure you throw away all seafood shells in the garbage can. Otherwise, the disposal may become damaged and need to be repaired.

4. Coffee Grounds

The delicate nature of coffee grounds makes this a dangerous combination for any garbage disposal. While it appears they could pass through the disposal safely, the grounds become denser when mixed with water.

Throwing coffee grounds down the disposal is the equivalent of tossing a hard, thick paste that will later serve to clog up the system. So make sure all your coffee grounds go in the trash can instead.

5. Onion Skins

While bite-sized pieces of onion are safe to dispose, be sure to remove the skins first and toss them away. Onion skins are delicate and can easily get trapped within the disposal. Over time, this buildup will prevent the garbage disposal from working efficiently. 

Onion skins are also thin enough to wash past the disposal entirely and settle into other areas of the plumbing, forming a clog down the line. If an onion skin is tossed in whole, it can also function as a catchall for any other food making its way down the pipe to create an even more significant clog.

6. Fibrous Fruits and Vegetables

Fibrous Fruits and Vegetables

While many small pieces of fruits and vegetables are safe to pass through a garbage disposal, you will want to steer clear of anything particularly fibrous and dense. The stringy nature of these foods may cause them to break down and allow the fibers to get stuck within the garbage disposal components.

Asparagus, artichokes, celery, rhubarb, and mangos are all fruits and vegetables to avoid putting in the garbage disposal. Instead, take the time to throw them away to bypass potential problems.

7. Potato Peels

Potato peels are similar to their sneaky counterparts. Like onion skins, the fine texture of potato peels can allow them to get caught in the disposal. If enough potato peels or other items build up over time, you may notice your garbage disposal has stopped grinding.

As potato peels are also fine enough to slip past the impellers, they may also start to pile up elsewhere in the drain and create a clog.

8. Egg Shells

While seemingly harmless, eggshells can cause multiple garbage disposal problems. While the impellers can grind up the outer layer of the shells themselves, the egg’s sticky membranous lining will cause problems.

The lining can adhere to any part of the disposal, causing the components to work harder and possibly stop altogether over time.

9. Pasta

Leftover Pasta

Pasta is another food item you should throw directly in the trash. Even after it has been cooked, its texture allows it to continue to absorb any water it comes into contact with. As a result, leftover pasta that gets stuck in the disposal or further down the drain will continue to expand as more and more water flows past.

An occasional piece of penne will be ground up or pass through the garbage disposal just fine, but avoid overloading it with large amounts of cooked pasta.

10. Cleaning Chemicals

Cleaning chemicals containing harsh, acidic substances should never be put into a garbage disposal. Professional-grade clog removers and regular bleach are too strong for disposal to handle. In addition, using these regularly will cause the garbage disposal components to break down and stop working over time.

Don’t worry about using standard hand soap, dish soap, and everyday cleaners for your sink. These cleaners are safe to pass through, although they won’t typically clean the disposal itself.

If you want to clean your garbage disposal, plan on taking a little additional time. Experts recommend flushing the disposal for an additional 15-30 seconds after each use with cold water. This extra water will help ensure any remaining scraps are washed away. Also, plan to check your garbage disposal at least once a week visually. Remove any visible scraps or food debris that has been collected on top.

Call Maitz Home for Garbage Disposal Maintenance

There you have it. The top ten items you want to try and prevent from reaching your garbage disposal.

Doing your best to avoid putting these everyday items down your garbage disposal will help it last longer and function more efficiently. Taking the extra time to flush it with water and check it regularly for built-up debris will also ensure greater longevity.

If you have questions about your garbage disposal, contact Maitz Home Services for more information. Don’t wait to get help. If you suspect an issue, it is better to ask the experts and address it immediately. Maitz Home Services is your go-to plumbing expert in the Allentown, Pennsylvania, area. We have provided garbage disposal installation, replacement, repair, and maintenance services for over fifty years. Reach out to Maitz Home Services to schedule an appointment today.