Garbage Disposal: What Can Go & What Can’t

Garbage Disposal: What Can Go & What Can’t

Understanding the correct use of your garbage disposal is crucial to maintaining a smoothly functioning kitchen. Many homeowners may not realize how important it is to understand and respect your garbage disposal’s capabilities and limitations. Doing so can avoid issues like clogged pipes that require costly garbage disposal replacement/repair.

Here’s a straightforward guide on properly using your garbage disposal and ensuring it operates efficiently for years to come.

What Can Go in Your Garbage Disposal

The primary role of your garbage disposal is to handle food waste, facilitating an easier kitchen cleanup process. Here are some of the food items that are typically safe for your disposal:

  • Fruits and Vegetables: Small scraps are fine. However, to prevent damage, refrain from disposing of large quantities or excessively hard items, such as fruit pits.
  • Eggshells: Despite common misconceptions, your disposal can actually handle moderate amounts of eggshells. In some cases, they can even help clean the blades.
  • Small Bones: More powerful disposals can grind small bones, like those from fish, without any issues.
  • Pasta and Rice: These are fine in minimal amounts. Remember to use plenty of water during disposal since they expand upon absorbing water, which could potentially cause blockages.
  • Coffee Grounds: A small quantity can help neutralize unpleasant odors. However, avoiding putting too much is important, as it tends to gather and might lead to clogs.

What Shouldn’t Go in Your Garbage Disposal

Hard or Fibrous Materials

Certain materials can cause significant damage to the mechanics of your garbage disposal or block your plumbing:

  • Large Bones and Fruit Pits: These hard materials can blunt the blades or jam the unit.
  • Nut Shells and Corn Husks: Their hardness and fibrous nature do not mix well with disposal blades.
  • Stringy Vegetables: Items like celery or banana peels can wrap around the blades and motor, causing jams.
  • Grease, Oil, and Fat: Should never go down your drain as they solidify and create blockages in your plumbing.
  • Non-Food Items: Non-biodegradable items such as paper, plastic, or metal should never be placed in your garbage disposal.
  • Chemicals or Harsh Cleaners: These can damage the internal mechanisms of your disposal unit, leading to costly repairs or replacements.

Consequences of Improper Garbage Disposal Use

Using your garbage disposal the wrong way can lead to a myriad of garbage disposal issues, including the following:

  • Clogging and Damage to the Disposal Unit: Items not meant for disposal can jam and damage the unit, reducing efficiency.
  • Plumbing System Issues: These blockages can lead to backups requiring expensive professional cleaning services.
  • Environmental Impact: Incorrectly disposed materials can contribute to pollution by ending up in landfills.

Tips for Proper Garbage Disposal Use

To ensure your garbage disposal operates efficiently and remains in good condition, consider the following guidelines:

  1. Run cold water while using the garbage disposal: Activating cold water while the disposal is in operation helps solidify oils and grease. This makes it easier for the disposal to grind and flush them away, preventing build-up and clogs.
  2. Introduce food gradually to avoid overloading the disposal: This practice allows the garbage disposal to grind up effectively and reduces the risk of jams.
  3. Conduct regular maintenance: Regular maintenance of your garbage disposal by cleaning it is essential to keeping it in top shape. To eliminate odors and clear away residue, use ice cubes and salt or a combination of vinegar and baking soda with cold water.
  4. Dispose of non-food items properly: Remember that the garbage disposal is designed for food waste only. To prevent damage to the unit, non-food items should be disposed of in the correct trash or recycling receptacles.

To ensure your garbage disposal remains in optimal working condition and to avoid garbage disposal issues, it’s crucial to be mindful of what it can and cannot handle. Adhering to a few basic guidelines will help maintain its efficiency. 

However, if you encounter issues beyond routine upkeep, it’s wise to seek the expertise of a professional for garbage disposal replacement/repair. For expert assistance with your garbage disposal unit, contact Cartwright’s Plumbing & Heating today.