Items You Should Never Put in Your Garbage Disposal

With just the flip of a switch, your garbage disposal can get rid of food waste you don’t want to be left in your trash can. In just seconds, it mashes up and flushes down your scraps however, this amazing convenience comes with responsibility. It may seem indestructible but there are items you should never put down a garbage disposal. 

Many items we carelessly throw down the sink can actually be used in compost.  Learn how to start composting to reuse scraps of food and avoid damage to your garbage disposal, with EarthEasy’s Composting Tutorial

  • Fat, Oil & Grease

    Simply running hot water while you pour bacon grease or oil into the disposal isn’t going to help it move through the pipes easier. These thick liquids should never be tossed down the disposal.  They will congeal, causing clogged pipes, difficulty grinding and unpleasant smells.

    The Solution:  Store grease and oils in an empty, metal coffee container.  Once it’s full, toss it into the trash and start a new container. Alternatively, you can keep bacon grease to cook with, as it offers great fats, oils, and flavors.

  • Potato Peels

    Yes, they are food and yes, your disposal’s blades have the power to break them down. However, potatoes are heavy starches that can turn into a thick paste that will cause the motor to seize and the blades to stick.  

    The Solution: Toss these in the trash, or add them to your compost.

  • Pastas, Breads & Rice

    There’s a reason you get so full when you eat pasta, bread and rice. These foods expand when exposed to liquid. This happens in your body, as well as your disposal. They can cause major clogs in the pipes and jam up the disposal trap. 

    The Solution: Specific care has to be put into prepping these items for compost – so it’s easier to just freeze leftovers for another night or throw them away.

  • Coffee Grounds

    These are excellent for composts, and horrible for your garbage disposal. When combined with water, they will create a sludgy, thick mess. Over time, this will accumulate and eventually settle in your drains and pipes.  

    The Solution: Coffee grounds offer compost a key component – nitrogen! If you aren’t composting, you can put used grounds in your trash can to reduce odor.  Morning Chores has some other great ideas for reusing coffee grounds!

  • Rough Fiber Produce

    Vegetables and fruits like celery, onion, asparagus, pumpkin, artichoke, banana peels, and corn husks are extremely fibrous. Those fibers tangle around the blade of the garbage disposal. This can lead to blocking drains and jamming the motor.

    The Solution: Fibrous fruits and veggies can do wonders for compost. Otherwise, you can always boil them in a pot of water to make vegetable stock.  Once that’s done, toss them in the trash. 

  • Bones & Seafood Shells

    Never toss bones or shells of any kind down your garbage disposal.  They will continue to spin around the blades – not be broken down by them. Even if some fragments or small bones get passed the blades, they will definitely get stuck in the drainpipe, causing more problems.

    The Solution:  Use bones to make chicken, ham or beef stock!  Otherwise, put them in a plastic bag and throw them away. The bag will keep the odors in the trash rather than spreading throughout your home.

  • Eggshells

    You may have heard that eggshells are good for sharpening the blades of your garbage disposal however, this could actually clog your drain. The membrane lining of the shells is sticky which will grab hold of other food as it passes through the disposal causing major clogs. 

    The SolutionCompost eggshells, or try one of the 30 suggestions for reusing eggshells from The Prairie Homestead.

  • Nuts

    Peanut and nut butters are made by grinding nuts.  These sticky, thick substances are the last thing you want clogging up your garbage disposal and slowing down the motor.  

    The Solution: Since nuts and nut shells can take too long to break down in compost, your best bet is to either freeze the nuts to later make nut butter, or toss them in the trash.

  • Chemicals  

    Drain cleaners, bleach and other chemicals should never be poured into the sink with a garbage disposal. These can damage the blades, and potentially the pipes. If you’re having clogging issues or your unit isn’t working properly, book an appointment with Fixd.

    The Solution:  To clean and sharpen the blades of your disposal, toss handfuls of ice into it while it’s running. You can also add a few drops of dish soap to running water directly down the drain to help reduce any grease buildup.

    If you ever question, “should I put this in the disposal?” your best bet is to turn around and put it in the trash. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Avoid putting these items down the sink and your disposal should last you at least a decade before it needs repairs or replacing.