10 Things You Should Never Put Down a Garbage Disposal

June 17, 2024by Joshua Bradt
Vegetable scraps and potato peels in the kitchen sink

You may have heard that it is important to be careful about what you put down the drain, but you may not have realized that you still need to be mindful of what goes into the kitchen sink drain, even when you have a garbage disposal. While these devices are designed to grind up food waste, they are not invincible and can become damaged or clogged if used improperly. To help you avoid these common pitfalls, we’ve compiled a list of things you should never put down your garbage disposal. This list includes everything from common kitchen waste to surprising household materials that can wreak havoc on your drain.

Coffee Grounds

It might seem like coffee grounds are harmless since they are small and granular, but they are actually one of the top things you should never put down your garbage disposal. When wet, coffee grounds clump together and form a dense, paste-like substance that can clog your drainage system. Over time, this can lead to slow drains and backups. Instead of flushing them down the garbage disposal, consider composting your coffee grounds or disposing of them in the trash.

Potato Peels

Potato peels may seem harmless, but they are surprisingly problematic for garbage disposals. The starchy content in potato peels can turn into a thick, gluey paste when ground up and mixed with water. This paste can coat the blades and the sides of the disposal, leading to clogs and reduced efficiency. It’s best to throw potato peels in the trash or compost them.

Fibrous Foods

Fibrous foods, such as celery, asparagus, corn husks, and artichokes, should never be put down your garbage disposal. These foods contain long, stringy fibers that can wrap around the disposal blades, causing them to jam and become less effective. Additionally, these fibers can get stuck in the drainage system, leading to blockages. Dispose of fibrous foods in the trash or compost bin instead.

Egg Shells

There is a common myth that egg shells can help sharpen the blades of your garbage disposal, but this is not true. Egg shells can actually damage the disposal. The thin membrane inside the shell can wrap around the blades, while the crushed shells can accumulate in the pipes, leading to clogs. It’s best to dispose of egg shells in the compost or trash.

Starchy Foods

Starchy foods like pasta, rice, and bread should never be put down your garbage disposal. These foods expand when exposed to water, which can cause blockages in the pipes. Additionally, the starchy residue can form a sticky paste that clogs the disposal and pipes. It’s better to throw starchy foods in the trash.

Small Bones

While garbage disposals can handle small amounts of soft food waste, small bones from chicken, fish, or other meats should never be put down your garbage disposal. Bones can dull or break the blades and cause significant damage to the disposal’s motor. It’s best to dispose of bones in the trash.

Onion Skins

Onion skins are another surprising item that should never be put down your garbage disposal. The thin, papery layers can bypass the disposal blades and get stuck in the pipes, leading to clogs. It’s better to throw onion skins in the trash or compost them.

Fruit and Vegetable Pits

Hard fruit and vegetable pits, such as those from avocados, peaches, and cherries, should never be put down your garbage disposal. These pits are too hard for the disposal to grind up and can cause serious damage to the blades and motor. Dispose of fruit and vegetable pits in the trash.

Grease and Oil

Grease and oil should never be put down your garbage disposal or any drain. When grease cools, it solidifies and can cause blockages in the pipes. This can lead to slow drains and backups. Instead, pour grease and oil into a container and dispose of it in the trash.

Paper Towels and Napkins

Paper towels and napkins or tissues should never be put down your garbage disposal. These materials do not break down easily and can cause clogs. Dispose of paper towels and napkins in the trash.

Need a New Garbage Disposal? We’re Here for You!

Keeping your garbage disposal in good working order involves more than just knowing what not to put down it. Regular maintenance, such as cleaning your garbage disposal with ice cubes and cold water, can help keep it running smoothly. It’s also helpful to seek professional services as soon as an issue occurs. 

Our team at Superior Plumbing & Drains can handle garbage disposal installation, repair, and maintenance to ensure your kitchen runs efficiently. We can even provide drain cleaning services to halt problems in their tracks. Contact us today to book a service and don’t sweat the small stuff!

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