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Dos and Don’ts: What You Can and Can’t Put Down a Garbage Disposal

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Garbage disposals are kitchen appliances that simplify kitchen cleanup by shredding food. This then transports the shredded remains through the plumbing system. Sewage treatment plants then process it with human waste instead of landfills. This reduces greenhouse gas emissions and converts food waste into recycled nutrients.

It may seem like garbage disposals can handle anything you can throw in the trash, but there are actually several ways the system can break down if they are not used correctly. It will also cause issues with your household plumbing. There are certain products of food waste and non-food items that can cause garbage disposals to not function properly. This blog will focus on which items are safe to use with the disposal and which items can damage it.

What You Can Put Down a Garbage Disposal

A good general rule of thumb to keep in mind is that food can go down your garbage disposal as long as it is soft enough to feed a baby. Before placing anything in the garbage disposal, be sure it has been chopped into small bits. This helps prevent plumbing issues down the line and won’t overwork the disposal system.

Safe and recommended items for disposal include:

  • Ice cubes to help sharpen the blades
  • Liquids and soft foods like small fruit scraps and cooked vegetable scraps 
  • Citrus rinds for freshening and deodorizing
  • Dish soap for cleaning
  • Cold water to flush the system

What Not to Put Down a Garbage Disposal

list of what not to put down a garbage disposal

Save yourself the trouble of unnecessary plumbing issues by learning what you should not put down your garbage disposal.

Items that should be avoided to prevent damage and clogs:

  • Coffee grounds: Despite appearing finely ground, used coffee grounds are tightly packed. When you pour them into your garbage disposal, they can cause paste-like sediment buildup, increasing the likelihood of a clog. A few loose grounds from a rinsed mug are fine but do not pour a large amount of them down the disposal. 
  • Nuts and shells from shellfish: Like bones, nuts, shells, and softer nuts like peanuts can damage your waste disposal. When peanuts are ground and mashed, a thick paste is created that might clog your drain, much like peanut butter in a jar. As a result, it’s imperative to stay away from these things when throwing away your trash.
  • Onion layers: To properly dispose of onion waste, just pull off the thin membrane that lies beneath the dry outer layer. If it becomes trapped in the drain after passing through the disposal, more objects may be caught by this membrane. Just chop it up or throw the thinnest outer layer in the garbage to avoid this problem.
  • Eggshells: The membrane of eggs can get loose from the shells and get lodged in pipes or around the grinder. Eggshells themselves do not decompose quickly and can cause objects to block the drain when many are stacked together.
  • Fibrous vegetables: Fibrous strands from fruits and vegetables can tangle in disposal grinders. To avoid this, throw celery, asparagus, banana peels, maize husks, and rhubarb in the trash instead of the garbage disposal. While occasional strands won’t harm the appliance, you should try to prevent them at all costs.
  • Grease and oil: Grease, oil, and fats, despite appearing liquid at first, solidify over time and can cause significant drain blockage. It’s best to let them cool before disposing of them, as they can cause significant plumbing issues.
  • Bones: Ribs and chicken bones should not be put down in garbage disposals. They are not made to handle tough materials like bones, but they can handle a tiny slip every once in a while. Just don’t make a habit out of putting a pile of bones down the disposal.
  • Pits and seeds: It is not a good idea to discard pits and seeds if you are unable to cut them down with a knife. Because pits and seeds are small and spherical, grinding them up is tough and makes a horrible racket around the disposal. Rather, throw them in the garbage.
  • Potato peels: Potato peels can become a starchy paste by grinding them up. They can get past the garbage disposal and become stuck in the drain. Like other starchy vegetables and beans, this paste can eventually cause serious obstructions if it gets into pipes.

How to Clean a Garbage Disposalcleaning a garbage disposal

Here are a few methods you can use to clean and deodorize your garbage disposal. These do-it-yourself tips will help extend the lifespan of your disposal while keeping your sink fresh and odor-free.

Pouring baking soda and vinegar down the drain

  1. Turn off the power to the disposal.
  2. Clean the baffle with some dishwashing liquid.
  3. Rinse the grinding chamber with a soapy sponge.
  4. Add baking soda and vinegar to the disposal.
  5. Cover the drain with a sink stopper.
  6. Flush the disposal with hot water for 10 minutes.
  7. Restore the power, remove the stoppers, and run the disposal while flushing it with water.

Running cold water and ice cubes to freshen and sharpen the blades

  1. Use ice cubes to scrape the inside of the grinding chamber.
  2. Pour one cup of rock salt or vinegar into the disposal.
  3. Run the disposal for seconds with water to grind ice.
  4. Flush the disposal with water.

Using citrus rinds or lemon peels for deodorizing

As a substitute for vinegar and baking soda, you can use chopped citrus rinds or lemon peels to deodorize your garbage disposal. Roughly cut up a few lemon, lime, orange, or other citrus peelings. Take off a portion of the white pith and throw it away. While running the cold water tap, feed a few strips of peels through the grinder at a time.

Regularly cleaning the rubber splash guard and drain flange

Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands.

  1. Remove the rubber splash guard.
  2. Scrub the top and bottom of the guard, as well as the drain flange, with soapy water and a small brush or toothbrush.

Contact Classic Aire Care for Garbage Disposal Repair and Installation

Garbage disposals are a wonder for modern kitchens but you need to make sure you are taking care of one properly. Proper maintenance and responsible garbage disposal behaviors are essential for a working and effective system. Call Classic Aire Care for your garbage disposal, drain cleaning, plumbing, and plumbing replacement needs.

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