A garbage disposal in your kitchen can make food waste disposal more convenient and efficient. However, you need to use it correctly to avoid clogs, damage, and potentially costly repairs. While garbage disposals can handle a wide range of food waste, certain substances and materials can wreak havoc on the disposal unit and your plumbing system. By following the guidelines of what not to put in your garbage disposal, you can prevent unnecessary clogs and extend the lifespan of your garbage disposal.

1. Grease and Cooking Oil

The garbage disposal might sound like a convenient way to get rid of grease and oil, but it can lead to serious problems. When grease or cooking oil goes down the drain, it will solidify and form a thick, sticky substance. Over time, it will accumulate and can create blockages in your home’s pipes, restricting the flow of water and causing backups. It can also coat the blades of the garbage disposal causing blade damage. Solidified grease and oil can also create added resistance for the motor of the garbage disposal, forcing it to work harder and increasing the potential for burnout.

2. Bones

Bones are one of the items that should never go down a home’s garbage disposal due to the potential damage they can cause. Garbage disposals have blades designed to chop and grind soft food waste into small particles. However, bones are incredibly hard and can be too tough for the blades of the disposal to handle. Also, if a bone does manage to make its way past the disposal into the plumbing system, it can cause blockages that impede the flow of water in other waste. These blockages can lead to backups or slow drainage.

3. Fruit Pits and Seeds

Fruit pits and seeds may be small, but they can cause a lot of damage to your garbage disposal and the plumbing system in your home. Fruit pits and seeds can easily get lodged in the disposal grinding chamber or the drain pipes. Their irregular shapes can cause them to become stuck. Fruit pits and seeds can also cause blades to jam and damage the motor.

4. Coffee Grounds

While it is a common misconception that coffee grounds can clean your garbage disposal or eliminate odors, they cause damage to garbage disposals. Coffee grounds clump together and create a sludgy substance when mixed with water. These clumps can accumulate and cause blockages in your garbage disposal and pipes. The fine particles in coffee grounds can act as abrasives, causing blades to dull or break.

5. Eggshells

Eggshells can also cause damage to your garbage disposal and plumbing system. Some people believe eggshells can help sharpen the blades of the garbage disposal, but eggshells break down into tiny granular pieces when put into the garbage disposal. These granules can easily accumulate and stick to the inside of pipes, which leads to blockages over time.

6. Fibrous Vegetables

Fibrous vegetables, such as celery, asparagus, artichokes, and others, may seem like they won’t do any damage to a garbage disposal because they are simply vegetables. However, these seemingly innocent food items can cause problems. The main issue with fibrous vegetables is their stringy nature. When you put them down the garbage disposal, the fibers wrap around the disposal blades instead of being properly shredded. This can lead to jammed or clogged disposal, as the blades can’t function properly. As a result, you may experience a malfunctioning or non-operational disposal unit.

7. Potato Peels

When you dispose of potato peels in a garbage disposal, they can damage both the unit and the plumbing system. Potatoes contain a significant amount of starch. When potato peels get ground up in the disposal, the starch is released and can turn into a thick and sticky paste, which can stick to the disposal unit and your pipes. Potato peels can also sometimes manage to pass through the disposal and enter pipes, allowing them to accumulate and form blockages. Over time, these blockages can stop the flow of water and waste, which causes backups.

8. Onion Skins

Thin and papery onion skins contain a fibrous and stringy inner layer that causes problems when put into a garbage disposal. As the blades of a garbage disposal spin, the onion skins tangle and create blockages. This leads to decreased performance and potential motor jams. Onion skins also tend to break down into smaller pieces as they move through the disposal and your home’s plumbing system. These smaller pieces can accumulate and create a sludge that sticks to the interior of pipes and can restrict water flow.

9. Shells from Shellfish

Shells from shellfish, like crabs, lobsters, and shrimp, should never be put down a garbage disposal because of the potential damage they may cause. Shells from shellfish are extremely hard and can dull or break the blades of your garbage disposal. This can lead to costly repairs or the need for a replacement of the unit. Shells can also cause pipe blockages if they become stuck in the plumbing system for your home.

10. Non-Food Items

Non-food cause a lot of damage to your home’s garbage disposal. When non-food items like plastic, metal, paint, or glass go into the garbage disposal, they can dull or chip the blades. Non-food items may also cause the motor to strain and even burn out or fail.

11. Harsh Chemicals

Harsh chemicals, such as drain cleaners or corrosive substances, can cause major damage to the garbage disposal in your home. Many harsh chemicals contain corrosive agents that eat away at the metal components in a garbage disposal. This corrosion weakens the integrity of the system and can lead to malfunctions or leaks. Rubber seals and gaskets are easily affected by harsh chemicals and cleaners. Chemicals can deteriorate the rubber components, causing them to break down. This can result in water leaks and water damage. Harsh chemicals can also degrade PVC (polyvinyl chloride) pipes, typically in a home’s plumbing system.

12. Pasta and Rice

Pasta and rice are starchy foods with a unique property that allows them to expand when mixed with water. When pasta or rice goes down the garbage disposal, they begin to absorb the water they encounter, which causes them to swell. When these starchy foods expand, they create a sticky, clumpy mass that can clog your garbage disposal and pipes. Even if the pasta or rice manages to get through the garbage disposal, it can continue to expand and cause problems further down the line.

Contact Us Today!

At Southport Home Services in Wausau, Wisconsin, we also provide drain cleaning and sump pump repairs for your home. Our skilled team also provides furnace repair, boiler repair, and AC maintenance services. Contact Southport Home Services for more information today!

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Thomas Suchla
Thomas Suchla


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