Making Food Scraps Go Away

A garbage disposal is a great kitchen convenience that makes food scraps go away without making a smelly, gooey mess in the waste container. But even this hardy piece of technology can clog and malfunction. So, with apologies to that close relative you’ve nicknamed “The Human Garbage Disposal,” we offer a guide to what to do if your actual disposal jams – as well as how to prevent jams in the first place!

The care and feeding of your garbage disposal

Although not a delicate piece of machinery, a garbage disposal isn’t built to 

handle everything you may be inclined to feed it. Here’s a rundown of the most common materials that cause indigestion.

Garbage Disposal Service


7 Things You Should Never Put Down Your Garbage Disposal

  1. Bones – Instead of being crushed and going through the system, bones will just keep spinning around and around with the blades. If they do manage to make it past the disposal, they won’t be able to go down the drai
  2. n pipes. Instead, they’ll simply stick and potentially clog your entire system. There’s some debate about the safety of disposing of very small bones, but it isn’t worth the risk.
  3. Fibrous/starchy fruit and vegetable peels – Banana peels contain stringy, fibrous material that can split off from the peel itself and wind around the disposal’s blades. The disposal gets more and more tangled as it spins, and may lead to severe damage. Potato peels have a high starch content, causing them to turn into a thick, soupy
  4.  mush that consequently causes clogs and blockages in the pipes. Add celery, onion skins, corn husks, artichokes and asparagus to this list.
  5. Fruit pits and nuts – Every try to cut a peach or avocado pit in half? Can’t do it, right? Neither can your garbage disposal, which also can’t do double-duty as a nutcracker.
  6. Pasta, rice, and oatmeal – How much trouble can those little grains cause? Or soft pasta? A significant amount, when the water greatly expands them from their original size. Think about the difference between a dry and wet kitchen sponge, and you’ll get the picture. In this state, they can easily fill up the disposal trap, or block the drain or pipes. 
  7. Coffee grounds – Our colleagues at Haynes Plumbing in Harrisville, UT, describe the problems coffee grounds cause very well. “Although the grounds appear to be going down with no problem, they can actually cause a hefty amount of damage. They pile up quite quickly at the bottom of the drain, creating a thick and sludgy mass of sediment. This sludge keeps accumulating in your pipes and drains and can be very hard to get rid of. It’s a notorious culprit for clogs and other drainage issues. As appealing as the smell can be, it’s best to avoid trouble by tossing your coffee grounds in the trash or compost.” 
  8. Egg shells – Again, disposing of egg shells is the subject of debate. Some argue that the
     shells help keep the blades sharp; others point out that the inner membrane can cling to the edges of the disposal unit, which is not a good thing. Better to exercise caution and dispose of them in the waste basket or add to the compost pile.
  9. Cigarette butts – We’re not going to judge or preach – except about the need to keep them out of your garbage disposal. The cigarette’s chemicals and other materials are shredded and spread throughout your drainage system. They may get stuck, leading to a clog. And if they do pass entirely through your plumbing, they’ll end up in your local water supply.

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