What Foods Are Safe to Put In a Garbage Disposal?

Without a doubt, garbage disposals are one of the chef’s most helpful appliances in the kitchen. Most of us are familiar with the basic rules of owning a garbage disposal, like keeping it clean and always running cold water when you use it. However, have you ever paused and considered what you are putting down your drain?

Some common questions I will answer are:

  • Can you put eggs down the garbage disposal?
  • Can you put a banana peel in the garbage disposal?
  • Can you put coffee grounds down the garbage disposal?
  • Can you put oatmeal in the garbage disposal?

If not properly maintained and operated, your garbage disposal will easily break down, become jammed, or clog the pipes under your sink. Each of these possibilities is scenarios is accompanied by costly repairs. The good news is that they are unnecessary. If you take care of your garbage disposal, it will take care of you.

Here are 7 items you should never stick down your garbage disposal:

1. Bones

If one or two small bones, like chicken bones, occasionally slip down your garbage disposal, it won’t become a national emergency, but on the whole, putting bones down your food waste disposer is something you should be careful to avoid. In most instances, they will simply continue to spin around and around with the impellers, and should your disposal manage to get them down, it will be difficult for them to make it out through the plumbing.

2. Fibrous Vegetables

The list of fibrous vegetables includes artichokes, celery, lettuce, asparagus, carrots, corn husks, and potato peels. Due to their fibrous nature, these items will wrap around the blades of your garbage disposal – impeding its ability to function. If fibrous foods must absolutely be put into your garbage disposal, they must be disposed of in small batches.

3. Pasta, Rice & Oatmeal

Rice and pasta are classified as “expandable foods”. These food items expand when water is added to a pot, and the same scenario occurs once the foods have become stuck in your garbage disposal or your pipes. When rice, oatmeal, or pasta expands in size, it increases the likelihood that other food debris will adhere to it, which is the beginning of a clog. In fact, many professional plumbers state that pasta and rice are the number one cause for clogs that they treat.

4. Nuts

Think of what would happen if you threw a large glob of peanut butter into your garbage disposal. Yeah…it’s not such a good idea to throw nuts down your disposal. Not only that, but nuts and other hard foods will dull the blades of your waste disposer.

5. Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds are a deceptive one. They make an excellent deodorizer for many unpleasant smells, so homeowners mistakenly believe that they can throw coffee grounds down their disposer and the same thing will happen. While they appear to go down your garbage disposal easily, in reality, they are going to accumulate inside of your pipes and create a sediment-like sludgy mess within pipes.

6. Egg Shells

There is a bit of controversy surrounding the practice of throwing egg shells down your garbage disposal. Proponents argue that egg shells are safe to dispose of via the garbage disposal and will actually assist in sharpening your disposal’s blades. Detractors believe that the membrane of the shells’ lining will stick to the impeller and blades, which creates a fair amount of havoc. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so this is one item you should avoid.

7. Cigarette Butts & Glass

Common sense would dictate that these non-food items shouldn’t be put in your garbage disposal, but you would be surprised at the number of homeowners who have tried it anyway. Your garbage disposal is probably capable of shredding cigarette butts, but it will also be shredding harmful chemicals and releasing those chemicals into the environment of your home. Likewise, just don’t put broken glass down your garbage disposal. Despite the presence of the splashguard, it WILL come flying out of the disposal and potentially result in a trip to the emergency room.

Your garbage disposal is a helpful friend to have in the kitchen, but even the best models on the market cannot handle unsuitable items. If you encounter any problems with your garbage disposal, it is best to consult with a licensed, professional plumber before attempting to tackle the problem yourself.

Justin Curtis

I am not a professional plumber, but I do feel like I am pretty handy :). I would love to hear your comments about this post or others. Thanks for reading!

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Patricia Coulter - January 28, 2020

Very helpful and informative! Thank you! Just what I needed.


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