March 2, 2024

The garbage disposal can be misleading due to its name, considering it’s exclusively meant for food and waste. It’s helpful in the kitchen, but what is it designed to handle? Its primary use is to shred food waste into tiny pieces that cannot clog pipes. It’s essential to run your waste disposal with cold water to clean it and solidify grease or oils to facilitate grounding. The smartest rule for garbage disposal waste is not to grind nonbiodegradable items.

What You Can Put Down a Garbage Disposal

A garbage disposal is a core part of your kitchen’s plumbing, but it can experience issues if you misuse it. It’s only meant for soft organic items. You can use it to dispose of the following items.

Ice Cubes

You can throw some ice cubes down the drain to clean your garbage disposal. Ice cubes can help loosen foodstuffs stuck to the components of the garbage disposal unit. If you want to add fragrance to the garbage disposal, combine the ice cubes with white vinegar and baking soda.

Citrus Fruits

You can throw citrus fruits down your garbage disposal, but ensure to cut them into bite-sized chunks. Throwing down bigger pieces can overwork the appliance. Citrus fruits can refresh your kitchen sink, and you can use fruit scraps, lemon, or citrus peels to achieve this.

Soft Food Scraps

It’s safe to put some vegetables in your garbage disposal. The unit can grind vegetable scraps without getting damaged. Soft foods like apple cores, carrot tops, and lettuce leaves are easy to break down and flush through your plumbing system.

Cooked Foods

It’s safe to put cooked food straps down your garbage disposal. These include rice and pasta. Make sure the food isn’t too hard or fibrous while disposing it. Hard foods can damage the garbage disposal and clog your drains. Disposing of cooked food waste properly keeps your disposal unit working efficiently and avoids unnecessary repairs.

What You Should Not Put Down Your Garbage Disposal

You shouldn’t treat your garbage disposal like a garbage can. Avoid running the following items through your garbage disposal to avoid significant plumbing issues.

Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds can appear finely milled and deceive you into thinking it’s fine putting them down the disposal. When you filter, they’re usually dense, and they form an almost paste-like substance. When you put coffee grounds down your garbage disposal, your drains will be filled with gunky sediments. This will clog your plumbing system.

Uncooked Pasta and Rice

These food items absorb water and expand. If this happens while they’re down your drains, they can cause blockages. If you run pasta or rice down the garbage disposal, use cold water and run it for a minimum of 30 seconds. Cold water can ensure you flush the grains without allowing them to expand. This is also applicable to oats and other grains that absorb water.


You might not think it, but a garbage disposal isn’t indestructible. Its design doesn’t make it capable of grinding tough items. Bones are among the hardest naturally occurring substances and can interfere with the operation of your garbage disposal. If you drop a small chicken or fish bone, don’t panic; a garbage disposal will grind that. However, if you drop larger bones, they’ll spin around and damage the disposal’s grinding mechanisms.

Shells and Nuts

Seafood shells and nuts can damage your garbage disposal. Even softer nuts like peanuts aren’t safe to dispose of. The garbage disposal works like a nut grinder; the product of mashing and grinding peanuts is a paste. The thick peanut paste has the potential to clog your drainage system.

Pits and Seeds

Compare your garbage disposal to a knife. If there’s an item that you can’t cut using a knife, then it’s not a good idea to throw it down the garbage disposal. Pits and seeds are small and round and difficult to grind up. They will also make a lot of noise bouncing around the garbage disposal.

Onion Layers

The outermost layer of the onion is notorious when it comes to the garbage disposal. The membrane beneath the dry skin can go through the disposal, missing the grinder. It can also wrap around it or get wedged in the drain. When the onion layer wedges, it acts as a net and traps other items you dispose of.


You might have heard the misconception that eggs can sharpen the blades in your garbage disposal. The garbage disposal has blunt impellers, and they grind food and waste down rather than chop it up. Eggshells have a membrane that may wrap around the garbage disposal grinder and cause serious problems.

Potato Peels

When you throw a potato peel down the garbage disposal, the unit may grind it into a starchy paste. Alternatively, if the peels are thin enough, they can slip past the disposal. Either way, both results can cause major blockages in your drainage system. The same applies to other starches and beans.

Grease, Oil, and Fat

These substances may initially look like liquid but don’t remain in that state long. When you let them down your drain, they’ll congeal after a while and cause blockages. It’s best to allow them to cool and dispose of them in a trash can.

Fibrous Vegetables

Avoid getting fibrous vegetables into your garbage disposal. These include kale, asparagus, celery, artichoke, lettuce, and rhubarb. They tend to tangle around the garbage disposal unit, causing operational issues and blockages. Instead of disposing of them through your garbage disposal unit, toss them in the trash or add them to your compost heap.

Broken Glass or Metal

You’re not supposed to run broken glass or metal through your garbage disposal unit. It’s possible to break dinner plates and glasses around the skin accidentally. If this happens, ensure they don’t go down the drain as they can damage the blade and flywheel. If you notice glass in the disposal or the chamber produces unusual noises, you can rely on our professionals at Black-Haak to inspect your system and ensure it’s safe.

Chicken Skin

You might prefer removing the skin when cooking chicken. However, don’t throw the skin in your garbage disposal. It can block the plumbing system and cause your sink to stink.

Stickers on Produce

When purchasing foodstuffs from supermarkets, most of them are labeled with stickers. When running the fruit peels and vegetables through the garbage disposal, remove any stickers on them prior. The stickers can get stuck to the garbage disposal blades or the interior of the pipes.


You might think throwing unused medication down your garbage disposal is a good idea. However, note that drugs in your plumbing system can impact the water supply. Remove medications from their packaging and throw them in plastic bags.

Professional Plumbers in Fox Valley, WI

Now that you know how to use your garbage disposal properly, have a reliable plumber come over to handle your plumbing issues. At Black-Haak, we offer plumbing repair, water filtration, drain cleaning, and sump pump repair in Fox Valley. Contact us today for more information.

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