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10 Things to Avoid Putting in Garbage Disposals

Disposal Basics

corroded garbage disposal
Corroded garbage disposal

Garbage disposals were designed to break up all different types of food waste. They can be a great addition to any kitchen sink due to their convenience. However, there are definitely items that will cause damage to the blades or clog your drain if added to the garbage disposal. They typically give the consumer the confidence to put any and everything down the drain. No matter how powerful the disposal is, it cannot break up all of the waste. Please be wary of flushing the following items down your drain:

Coffee Grounds

Contrary to popular belief, adding coffee grounds to your garbage disposal is a recipe for a clog. As any avid coffee drinker will notice, the grounds clump together when wet in the coffee machine filter, which is exactly what happens inside your drain. The disposal can break it up a little bit, but they can clump back together again further down the drain line.

Garbage

Despite having garbage in the name, garbage disposals are not meant to break up things typically found in the trash can. Any paper towels, tissues, paper, plastic, bags, etc. will clog your drain or get tangled in the blades. Save yourself the hassle, and make sure to throw out any garbage.

Bones

Garbage disposals contain blades to break waste and debris up. However, the blades are not nearly strong enough to break up bones from any meat products. After the big football game or party, please refrain from putting the chicken wings down the disposal, and instead throw them right in the trash

Pasta

A standard rule of thumb is avoiding flushing anything that can expand when wet down the drain. Pasta becomes very hard for a garbage disposal to deal with and often gets tangled between the blades. This causes a clog to form before it even reaches the drain.

Nuts

Do not put any type of nuts down a garbage disposal. It will turn the nuts and your drain into a jar filled with peanut butter. The blades will break down the nuts and cause them to line your drain, which can also attract unwanted guests (insects/drain flies).

Fruit Pits

Similar to bones and other strong solids, fruit pits are very difficult for the blades to break down. Rather than taking the risk of putting them into the garbage disposal, putting them into the trash is always the safer decision.

Fibrous Fruits or Vegetables

Celery, asparagus, and other vegetables filled with fiber are never meant to be put down garbage disposals. The string-like fibers get caught in the blades and become entangled causing clogs and backups. Removing them is simply not worth the hassle, and should just be composted or put in the trash.

Grease

grease clog
Grease clog that Zeek Plumbing recently cleared.

One of the most common causes of clogged drains is grease. As it cools, grease will solidify inside the drain. Cooking oil, butter, lard, and any other fatty liquid leftover from cooking all fall into this category. Safe disposal methods include pouring liquid grease into another container such as a bottle or milk cartoon, putting the container into a zip lock bag, and throwing it in the trash. Do not under any circumstances pour grease/oil down the drain because it may make it through yours, but it can clog neighbors’ sewer lines or even make it to the local water system. 

Eggshells

Zeek Plumbing recommends to steer clear of adding eggshells to your garbage disposal. Typically, there are 2 schools of thought regarding eggshells. Some think they help clean and sharpen the blades. Others think the membrane from the shells can get stuck and cause clogs. Some eggs here and there will not do any harm. If you are constantly adding eggs, then over time an issue will arise.

Potato Peels

Similar to the eggs, putting potato peels in the garbage disposal from time to time will not cause damage. However, always putting every potato peel down the drain is not ideal. They have a very high starch content which causes the peels to turn into a thick mush inside your drains. Potato peels are better off in the compost or thrown away in the trash.

Now you may be asking what can I actually put down my garbage disposal? 

Lemon and citrus rinds are perfect because they leave a pleasant smell behind. Leftover cooked meat can be processed, but try to make sure they are smaller pieces. Smaller pieces of fish, and fish bones can be broken down by the disposal. A general rule to follow would be any product that is biodegradable can be flushed down the garbage disposal.

If any serious issues or clogs form, please contact the professionals. Grease can be a nightmare to unclog due to the fact the drain may need to be removed before clearing. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact our Zeek Plumbing office at 866-635-0200.

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