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What You Can and Cannot Put in a Garbage Disposal and Why


You love your garbage disposal. It makes kitchen clean up a breeze and cuts down the time you spend on dishes. Using your disposal for food scraps also helps the environment by reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfills.

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The purpose of a garbage disposal is to shred food waste so it does not clog your pipes. To ensure your disposal continues to function correctly, run it on a regular basis with cold water flowing. If there is any grease or oil in there, the cold water will help to solidify it so that it can be ground. Most importantly, do not put anything in your disposal that is not biodegradable, and anything that IS NOT FOOD will certainly break the disposal.

There are limits to what your garbage disposal can handle. To prevent it from breaking, which will require a call to a plumber who will charge you an expensive bill, make a note of the following list from Hutchinson Plumbing Heating Cooling Energy Services of acceptable and unacceptable items to put into the disposal.

Here is what SHOULD go down the disposal:

  • Citrus peels – help to remove odor and leave your drain smelling fresh.
  • Eggshells – help to sharpen garbage disposal blades.
  • Small bones – if a few end up in there, it is okay.
  • Fruit scraps – also help keep your drain fresh.
  • Coffee grounds – a small amount is okay and can leave a fresh smell. However, large amounts can settle in the pipes and can create backups.
  • Most vegetable scraps – some that are too fibrous should go in the garbage.
  • Cooked meat scraps – if some food scraps from dinner fall into the drain, it’s not a big deal, but refrain from throwing big chunks in there.

Here are items that SHOULD NOT go down the disposal:

  • Grease, oil and fat – when it solidifies, it will clog your pipes.
  • Fibrous foods – such as corn husks, celery, onion skins, banana peels, artichokes, and asparagus can tangle in the garbage disposal, jam the motor, and clog the drain. Avoid all stringy vegetables and foods.
  • Pasta, rice, potato peels – these types of starchy foods will expand with water and can cause clogs.
  • Shrimp shells – not only are the shells tough, they will not leave a pleasant smell either.
  • Large bones & fruit pits – simply best to throw out in the garbage.
  • Cigarette butts – just do not do it.
  • Metal, plastic, paper, glass – all can cause damage to the disposal.
  • Combustible items – do not throw anything down the drain that could cause a fire.
  • Chemicals – bleach and drain cleaners can damage the impeller and pipes.
  • Rings, jewelry, utensils, coins – sometimes these can fall in by accident. Make sure you always check the drain BEFORE TURNING ON THE DISPOSAL.

Remember, anything that is not food will damage your garbage disposal. A proper rule of thumb when deciding what can go down in the garbage disposal is: when in doubt, throw it out. It is also important to know that not all garbage disposals can handle the same things. Always check your user’s manual as to what you can and cannot put in it.

If something does break in your garbage disposal, call Hutchinson Plumbing Heating Cooling Energy Services at 866-953-8728 to come out and take a look.