What Not to Put in a Garbage Disposal

Garbage disposals put a lot of effort into simplifying our lives. If you’re fortunate enough to own one, you are aware of the joy that comes from quickly getting rid of food waste. Unfortunately, we frequently use our disposal like a trash can, which might eventually cause serious plumbing issues. By adhering to these rules on what not to put in a garbage disposal, you may spare yourself stress and money.

15 Things You Should Never Put Down Your Garbage Disposal

If you want your disposal to function correctly and your drains to stay clear of clogs, here are 15 items you should never put in.

1. Coffee Grounds

Coffee Grounds

Let’s start by disproving a traditional solution. While it’s true that putting coffee grounds down your garbage disposal temporarily eliminates odors, doing so can potentially lead to more severe issues with your drain.

Don’t be misled by coffee grinds. When you remove them from a filter, they are tightly packed and paste-like despite their seeming fine milling. If you put it in your garbage disposal, your drain will accumulate a buildup of sticky debris, increasing the risk of a blockage.

2. Animal Bones

Although it may be difficult to accept, garbage disposals are not indestructible. Simply said, it’s not designed to grind up tough objects. One of the toughest naturally occurring materials is bone, which may drastically reduce your disposal’s longevity. If a little fish or chicken bone unintentionally falls down the drain, don’t worry; a disposal can shred that. However, anything more than that would only whirl around your garbage disposal, damaging its grinding gears.

3. Bread, Rice, And Pasta

Sourdough bread and Basmati rice

What links these three items together? They all expand after absorbing water, which is an easy way to block a drain. Don’t worry if some leftover spaghetti accidentally gets flushed down the garbage disposal, but don’t do it frequently. If you must put rice, pasta, or bread down the garbage disposal, run cold water for at least thirty seconds and flush the drain to prevent the grains from expanding. 

The same applies to grains that can absorb water, such as oats. Mainly uncooked oats are prone to pass through the garbage disposal unnoticed, accumulating and spreading down-line.

4. Seeds and Pits

Garlic Seeds
Garlic Seeds

It is safe to state that throwing something down the garbage disposal is not a good idea if you can’t cut it with a knife. Because they are frequently tiny and rounded, pits and seeds are considerably more difficult to ground. In addition, the noise they produce as they bounce about your disposal is unpleasant. Toss them in the trashcan to save your garbage disposal the hassle.

5. Shells and Nuts

Hickory Nuts
Hickory Nuts

Like bones, nuts, and shells, particularly those from seafood, can severely damage your garbage disposal. Also, softer nuts, like peanuts, are not suitable for disposal. Consider how similar your garbage disposal is to a nut grinder. What do you get when you mash and grind peanuts? Peanut butter. Well, not quite peanut butter in a jar, but a slightly thick peanut paste that may easily clog your drain.

6. Onion Layers

Onions

While chopped onions may be disposed of in the garbage disposal, you must be cautious about the outer layer. The membrane below the dry skin can go down the garbage disposal, either wrapping around the blade’s grinder or missing it entirely. It may even become hooked in the drain and form a net that holds other debris.

Fortunately, there is an easy solution to avoid this issue. Simply throw away the outermost layer of it, or chop it up and put it in the garbage disposal. A few short minutes of work can prevent hours of labor or a costly plumber call.

7. Stringy or Fibrous Fruits and Vegetables

Rhubarb
Rhubarb

Many fruits and vegetables have fibrous threads that might entangle themselves in the grinder of your disposal. Next time, you should put the following things in the trash can rather than the disposal: celery, banana peels, asparagus, rhubarb, and corn husks. A few here and there may not cause any damage, but try to avoid them to keep your appliance in good condition.

8. Egg Shells

Crate of eggs

A widespread misunderstanding is that egg shells may be used to sharpen the “blades” of your disposal. However, the reality is that garbage disposals don’t have blades. Instead, they utilize impellers that are less pointed and blunter. Instead of cutting up food waste like a blender, these impellers ground it. In any case, you won’t sharpen your knives with egg shells.

Egg shells are not only useless for honing the grinding machinery but also contain membranes that may readily encircle the grinder. This might lead to a variety of issues with your appliance.

9. Peeled potatoes

potatoes

One of two things may happen when you put potato peels in the garbage disposal: they are crushed up into a starchy paste or thin enough to slide through the disposal and possibly get caught in the drain. You may experience significant obstructions in the future if this material manages to get into the pipes. The same is true for beans and other starchy vegetables.

10. Fat, Oil, and Grease

Grease, fats, and oil can be challenging because they now appear liquid, but they don’t remain that way for very long. With time, these substances may solidify and badly clog your drain. The best course of action is to simply let these chemicals cool before throwing them in the garbage.

11. Cleaning Agents

We’re not referring to regular cleansers or dish soap appropriate for everyday use. Chemicals to avoid include intense drain and industrial-grade cleaners, which may cause the drain pipe and your disposal to wear out prematurely.

Instead, clean the blades with ice cubes and then deodorize and dissolve any greasy buildups with a bit of dish soap. And if you do have a blockage, follow these instructions to unclog it naturally.

12. Broken Glass or Metal

Don’t turn on your garbage disposal if pieces of metal or glass fall into it. Instead, shut off the garbage disposal at the unit underneath the sink, then make an effort to remove the problematic object using a grabber, fork, or hook. If that isn’t an option, gently collect the object while wearing gloves to protect your hands. Before attempting to remove something from the sink, always double-check that the disposal is turned off.

13. Medication

Although flushing unwanted prescriptions down the disposal may seem like a sensible approach to getting rid of restricted chemicals, doing so might eventually have an adverse effect on the water supply. The FDA advises taking the medications out of their packaging and placing them in a plastic bag along with something unpleasant like dirt or cat litter before throwing the bag in the garbage.

You can follow the other tips in our article on How to Dispose of Medication.

14. Product Stickers

It’s okay to throw out an apple, citrus, or banana peel, but remember to remove any fruit stickers first. Stickers will most likely adhere to the garbage disposal blades or the walls of your pipes.

15. Paint

One error that DIYers are particularly prone to make is this one. Never pour latex or oil paint directly down the toilet. It may stick to the disposal’s side or remain in pipes, where it will start to solidify into an unbreakable clog. Again, a small amount won’t cause a problem as long as the paint is substantially diluted. However, bulk paint must be disposed of properly, while brushes and rollers should be carefully cleaned using the proper container.

FAQs

Why is cold water required while running a garbage disposal?

Cold water keeps fats coagulated and solid inside the machine. It is vital to run cold water whenever you run your garbage disposal. This makes it possible for the fatty pieces to be broken up and routed down your drain pipe. On the other hand, hot water makes fats stickier and promotes buildup.

Can I put vinegar and baking soda in the garbage disposal?

The two most effective cleaning agents are vinegar and baking soda. Pour a half-cup of baking soda down the disposal, followed by a cup of white vinegar as a chaser. You want it to bubble. After giving it a solid 10 minutes to work its job, switch on the water and disposal.

SEE: How to Clean a Garbage Disposal

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