Things to avoid putting down your garbage disposal

Garbage disposals are a wonderful invention. Not only do they provide a quick and easy way to get rid of unwanted food, but they also keep your kitchen trash from filling up too quickly, which means less trips to your outside trash cans. However, as handy as these modern conveniences are, there are some things you should avoid putting down your garbage disposal.

What a garbage disposal is not:

To begin with, a garbage disposal is not a food processor, and shouldn’t be treated as one. Even the best maid cleaning services will tell you this, as they are sometimes asked to clean our debris during their weekly cleaning. (And no, maids do not want to clean out your disposal for you.) There are all sorts of food items that may seem innocent at first, but will, over time, wreak havoc on your disposal’s components. (Not to mention helping you to avoid calling a plumbing company to help!) A brief collection of the “Usual Suspects” is listed below:

The Usual Suspects:

– Banana Peels

Banana peels, as well as asparagus, celery, onion skins, and corn husks, are fibrous materials that are actually very strong, and very hard on your garbage disposal. These stringy items can easily become wrapped around disposal components, and as they don’t break down easily, may eventually jam up your pipes.

– Bones

Bones are a typical culprit, as many of us have been advised early on that chicken bones, or any bones for that matter, will sharpen your disposal blades. This is not true and will simply dull or even break them. These are a definite choice for the trash can!

– Bacon Fat, Grease or Oil

This is a huge No-No. When Grease or oils sit for a period of time, they actually solidify, leading to clogged drains that are difficult to clean. Unfortunately, running hot water to liquefy these items will only work for a short time, until they cool down and solidify once again. It is best to keep these out of your disposal.

– Potato Peels

These are a favorite, and one of the most common offenders to make the list. Unfortunately, starches in potatoes will eventually turn into a kind of paste that will clog blades and back up pipes. And this goes for beans and other starchy vegetables as well!

– Pasta & Rice

Pasta and rice are designed to expand when introduced into water. This means they will do the same thing in your garbage disposal and pipes. This is especially true of uncooked pasta, which will absorb water and expand, exactly like bread, which is another food item to avoid putting down your sink!

-Coffee Grounds

Perhaps the most common transgressor on our list, coffee grounds are thought to eliminate odors, which may work for a time, but will eventually stick together and cause blockage. Imagine what coffee grounds look like on coffee filters, which is basically a sticky paste. You definitely don’t want this in your pipes! “This is one of those home remedy myths that continues to cause problems for homeowners, people would be better off avoiding coffee grounds for the sake of their drains,” according to Fix it All Plumbing of Nashville.

-Egg Shells

Eggshells are also thought to sharpen blades, but they really don’t, and the thin membrane on the inside of an egg shell can work into the tiny components of your disposal to clog it up. These are best left for the garden, where they will work wonders as compost.

– Pits

This one may seem obvious, but pits of any kind (peach, avocado, cherry, etc.) are entirely too hard to be handled by disposal blades. At the very least it will dull them, it will probably cause them to work improperly, and it might even break them. Once again, pits go in the trash


Harsh chemicals can actually eat through pipes, and definitely put excessive wear on your disposal and drain lines. If you would like to clean off your blades, ice cubes and a little bit of soap will both clean and sharpen them! In fact, it’s highly recommended that homeowners avoid chemicals altogether, as noted by these Tulsa plumbers.


The final item on this list is paint. There is a huge temptation by homeowners to pour unused paint down your drains, or at least clean off your brush in the sink. This is a very bad idea, as the paint will eventually dry and coat the insides of your pipes and garbage disposal, once again leading to blockage and breakage.

If you’re experiencing a garbage disposal jam, you can try this method to first fix it on your own:

YouTube video

While occasionally putting the wrong food item down the drain is certainly not the end of the world, it is best to avoid as many “accidents” as possible to help ensure the longevity of your pipes and garbage disposal. And, as always, if you find yourself in need of garbage disposal repair or replacement, don’t hesitate to call the pros at Hackler Plumbing! 214-585-1499

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