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Because food scraps amount to nearly 30 percent of Americans’ household waste, garbage disposals fulfill a unique need. Food waste that would typically wind up in a landfill now goes through a shredding process and on to the sewer plant with other wastewater for treatment.

However, despite the appliance’s popularity, many homeowners aren’t using their disposals correctly. Putting in food that can harm the inner workings of the machine or even present a danger to those cooking is all too familiar. Here are ten food items you should never put in the garbage disposal.

  • Grease: While hot grease is liquid, as soon as it cools, it will clog not only your disposal but also your plumbing. Adding water won’t help, since cool water will harden the grease further, and hot water will just push it further into the pipes. At the same time, grease may make the blades less efficient since the sharp edges have a waxy coat on them.

  • Bones: Bones aren’t welcome in compost heaps, and it’s not just because they attract animals. Sending them down the drain isn’t a suitable alternative, either. Bones are too rough for disposal blades to chew up and may spin along with the mechanism, so those should go in the trash.

  • Corn Husks: If you’re husking corn and thinking about stuffing the strings and leaves down the drain, don’t. Not only is this too much material for the disposal to process, but those strings can tangle up on the blades and ruin the disposal’s function. Corn cobs are another no-no, although the size of them discourages most people from attempting it.

  • Celery: Vegetables that have “strings” or fibers only wind up around the blades of your garbage disposal. Apart from celery, other vegetables like asparagus, lettuce, and artichokes can put your disposal out of commission. Even greens like spinach and cilantro or other herbs can stick to the blades and wrap around them.

  • Potatoes: Peeling potatoes into the sink might sound easier than collecting the peels for compost, but it’s not a smart idea. The same sticky starch that makes a mess of your cutting board will also gunk up the disposal’s operation. Plus, the peels can stick to the blades and ride along rather than sliding into the drain.

  • Seeds or Pits: It’s tempting to flick a few apple seeds into the disposal along with other fruit bits, but seeds and pits are hard enough to not only bend or gash sharp blades, but they can also shoot back out of the disposal. Avoid denting the internal system and prevent food shrapnel from spewing out of the sink by keeping pitted and seeded fruit away.

  • Coffee Grounds: A few specks of grounds may not cause a problem, but a spoonful or more of ground coffee can block your disposal. The blades can grind up big pieces of food, but grounds are too fine and will only clog up the pipes. The pleasant smell isn’t worth the cost of repairing a broken machine.

  • Starches: Any food that expands as it cooks will wreak havoc on your under-sink system as it absorbs water. At the same time, dry rice and pasta will only rattle around in the disposal rather than break up. Keep rice and pasta out of the sink by using a strainer to catch errant scraps.

  • Seafood Leftovers: From crab or lobster to oysters and clams, seafood has no place in the sink. Shells are tough because they protect sea creatures from predators, so your disposal system won’t fare well with the resilient materials.

  • Raw Meat: Imagine dropping chunks of raw meat into your disposal, only to have small bits of the stuff caught in the blades and start to smell. Or worse, bits of meat can clog up the drain and cause things to back up. Keep these scraps out of the compost bin, too, to avoid attracting animals and throwing off the balance of your compost.


The area is known for garbage disposals needing repair. Whether it’s just old or you have water backing up from the sink we can take care of it for you.

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