Do you ever wonder how much your garbage disposal can take? Whether you’re new to using these tools of convenience or have had one for several years, you need to learn what not to put in a garbage disposal.
Homes with garbage disposals can see some of the worst clogged pipes. People look at them like they’re invincible and can handle anything thrown at them. However, this type of thinking leads to big problems down the road.
What Not to Put in a Garbage Disposal
The problem with garbage disposals is that most drainage issues don’t dwell on or near the surface. Severe drainage blocks occur further down the line, where food and other particles get stuck and dam up the pipe.
Unfortunately, because this happens beneath the surface, most homeowners don’t know they’re doing anything wrong. In their minds, once it clears the garbage disposal, the mess is gone forever. However, this is hardly the case, especially when you’re putting the wrong types of foods and other materials through the garbage disposal.
As homeowners continue to unintentionally misuse their garbage disposal, the problem builds and builds, leading to a total blockage that can be several meters long.
The question then is what things fall under the category of what not to put in a garbage disposal? Keep reading to find out.
1. Grains of All Kinds
Grains are the staple of most of our diets. It can be argued that we eat too many of them, which is partly to blame for the health epidemic facing America today. However, grains such as pasta, bread, oats, and rice can be even worse for your plumbing.
Grains expand when exposed to moisture, even after they’ve been cooked. Most of them also become gummy or sticky. For this reason, grains are on the top of the list of what not to put in a garbage disposal.
As they clear the disposal, there remains a possibility that they’ll stick to the pipes. From here, they’ll swell and block other items from passing through.
2. Fruit, Vegetable, and Animal Skins
Fruit, vegetable, and animal skins are all incredibly fibrous. When you send them down a garbage disposal, there’s a good chance they never get fully ground or shredded. This can lead to a major blockage.
3. Fibrous Vegetables
Many vegetables don’t pose a problem or risk for your garbage disposal or your pipes. However, fibrous vegetables such as kale, asparagus, and celery can leave remaining fibers tangled up in the blades. This can make your garbage disposal less efficient and lead to bigger problems in the future.
4. Potatoes/Potato Peels
Potatoes are incredibly starchy and are a natural type of sugar. When cutting potatoes, you may notice how pieces tend to stick to your knife blade. Similarly, when shredded and grinding potatoes in a garbage disposal, it creates a sticky, gummy mess.
5. Fat, Oil, and Grease
Some of the most important items on the list of what not to put in a garbage disposal are fat, oil, or grease of any kind. While it may seem innocent enough washing them down the drain, these items aren’t water-soluble.
They will stick to your pipes and most will solidify and become solids. Washing oil, fats, and grease down the drain is sure to create big blockages, even if it takes years to do so.
6. Broken Glass
There are a lot of things that can damage your plumbing and garbage disposal. Inorganic materials, such as broken glass can wear down your blades and damage the inside of your pipes. It may seem convenient at the time, but it’s never a good idea to send hard, sharp objects down the drain.
7. Seafood Shells
Seafood shells are also hard on your garbage disposal blades. They can easily ding up or dull your blades, as well as create blockages in the pipes. Instead, consider using them as compost for your garden.
8. Plastic, Stickers, and Other Food Wrappings
Inorganic materials don’t break down the same way organic materials do. For example, if you’re tossing stickers from produce into the sink for the garbage disposal to take care of, you’re making your pipe vulnerable to blockages in the future. Avoid throwing any kind of trash or food wrapping down the disposal, such as plastics, aluminum foil, cardboard, styrofoam, etc.
9. Hard Organic Products
Just because an item is organic doesn’t mean it belongs in the garbage disposal. Fruit pits, nuts, and seeds all represent the top organic material on the list of what not to put in a garbage disposal. These items will damage the blades and will not be fully shredded.
10. Coffee Grounds
While running water has a way of breaking up coffee grounds, they don’t belong in the sink or the garbage disposal. Coffee grounds can get muddy, dense, and difficult if they aren’t properly disposed of. If you make a habit of dumping them down the drain, you can expect major blockages in the pipe.
11. Animal Bones
The occasional small bone accidentally sent to the disposal isn’t the end of the world, but your garbage disposal wasn’t designed to handle that kind of material. Like fruit pits and other hard organics, bones can damage the blades and will rarely make it past the disposal.
How Do You Dispose of These Items?
Organic products can go in a compost pile. Once composted, use it on your garden or on indoor/ outdoor houseplants. All other items should go in the trash. For fluids, like oil and grease, let them cool down, then pour them into an aluminum can, jar or zip lock bag you are throwing away.
Need Plumbing Help?
It seems clear that the list of what not to put in a garbage disposal is quite extensive. In fact, there are several things not listed in this article that should never go down there. We recommend using the trash for the majority, if not all of your items.
Look at your garbage disposal as a safety net to catch accidental particles, rather than as the primary means for disposal of unwanted foods or other items. However, if you’re already in a pickle, we can help.
Contact us today if you’re experiencing any drainage problems or other plumbing issues. We offer a wide variety of services including garbage disposal repairs, pipe clearing, and more.