Your garbage disposal can be a convenient kitchen appliance, capable of swiftly handling food scraps and reducing waste. However, not everything is meant to go down the drain. Putting the wrong items into your garbage disposal can lead to clogs, damage to the disposal unit, and even costly plumbing repairs. To help you avoid these issues and keep your kitchen running smoothly, we’ve compiled a list of 10 items that should never be put down in your kitchen garbage disposal.
10 Things Not to Put Down the Garbage Disposal
Garbage disposals have gained significant popularity in American homes, with a nationally representative survey revealing that approximately 53% of American households had a garbage disposal installed when they moved in. However, while these appliances can be a convenient addition to the kitchen, the repercussions of putting the wrong items down the disposal can quickly turn into a nightmare for homeowners, resulting in clogs, damage, and the need for costly repairs.
Grease and Cooking Oil
Pouring grease or cooking oil down the garbage disposal might seem harmless, but it can solidify and clog the pipes, leading to blockages and potential backups in your plumbing system. Instead, let the grease cool and dispose of it in a sealed container in the trash.
Coffee grounds can accumulate and form a sludgy paste in your pipes, causing blockages. It’s best to discard coffee grounds in the trash or use them as a beneficial addition to your garden compost.
Despite their hard texture, eggshells can break down into tiny, granular pieces that can stick to the sides of your pipes and create clogs. Dispose of eggshells in the trash or consider composting them.
Fruit Pits and Seeds
Garbage disposals are not equipped to handle fruit pits and the tough, fibrous nature of seeds. These items can damage the disposal’s blades and cause mechanical failures. Discard them in the trash or compost them if possible.
Vegetables like celery, asparagus, and corn husks have stringy fibers that can wrap around the disposal’s blades, leading to blockages. Tossing these fibrous vegetables into the trash or composting them is better.
Pasta and Rice
Pasta and rice expand when exposed to water, and over time, they can cause your pipes to become clogged. Dispose of leftover pasta and rice in the trash or compost them in small quantities.
While garbage disposals are designed to handle small food scraps, bones are far too tough for them. Bones can dull the blades or jam the disposal, resulting in potential damage. Dispose of bones in the trash or consider composting them if appropriate.
Shells from Shellfish
Shellfish shells, such as those from shrimp, crab, or lobster, should not be put down the garbage disposal. Their tough shells can damage the disposal’s blades and cause blockages. Dispose of these shells in the trash or consider using them for seafood stock.
Fibrous materials like cotton balls, paper towels, and dental floss should never go down the garbage disposal. These items do not break down easily and can cause clogs. Discard them in the trash instead.
Paint and Chemicals
Dumping paint, harsh chemicals, or cleaning agents down the garbage disposal can contaminate the water supply and harm the environment. Follow proper disposal guidelines for these substances, which may involve taking them to a designated recycling center or hazardous waste collection facility.
It may seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning that non-food items should never be put down the garbage disposal. This includes bottle caps, twist ties, rubber bands, and other foreign objects. Dispose of them in the trash or recycle them if appropriate.
Recommendations for Proper Disposal
To ensure well-functioning garbage disposal and avoid costly repairs, follow these disposal recommendations:
- Use a sink strainer or screen to catch food particles and prevent them from going down the drain.
- Scrape plates into the trash or compost bin before rinsing them in the sink.
- Dispose of grease, oils, and fats in sealed containers and throw them in the trash.
- Create a compost pile for organic waste like coffee grounds, eggshells, fruit and vegetable scraps, and other biodegradable materials.
The Importance of Responsible Disposal Practices
While garbage disposals are convenient kitchen appliances, be mindful of what goes into them. Avoid putting grease, coffee grounds, eggshells, fruit pits, fibrous vegetables, pasta, bones, shellfish shells, fibrous materials, and chemicals down the garbage disposal. Following these guidelines and adopting proper disposal methods can prevent clogs, damage, and potential plumbing issues, ensuring a smoothly functioning kitchen and a happier wallet.