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A garbage disposal under a sink.

As a homeowner, you likely have a garbage disposal in your kitchen sink. This appliance can be a real lifesaver when it comes to disposing of food scraps and keeping your pipes clear. However, it's important to understand that not everything can be safely put down the garbage disposal. Here, we'll look at some of the most common items that should never be disposed of in this way.

12 Things You Should Never Put Down Your Garbage Disposal

A garbage disposal is a handy device that goes between your sink and plumbing trap. Using a set of blades, it grinds up food waste into tiny pieces that can be easily flushed away. Besides being environmentally friendly, it also makes kitchen cleaning much more convenient. However, it's important to remember that a garbage disposal isn't designed to handle every type of waste you might want to throw into it.

The following are a list of 12 things you should not put in your garbage disposal:

  1. Fats, Oils, and Greases – One of the biggest culprits when it comes to clogged garbage disposals is fats, oils, and greases. These substances can solidify and stick to the blades of your disposal, making it difficult or impossible to run. To avoid this issue and keep your disposal in top shape, be sure to pour all fats, oils, and greases into a separate container and dispose of them in the trash.
  2. Bones – While it might be tempting to toss chicken bones or fish bones down the disposal, it's important to avoid this practice. Garbage disposals aren't designed to handle hard objects like bones, so they can easily become stuck or damage the blades. Instead, wrap bones in a plastic bag and dispose of them in the trash.
  3. Fibrous Foods – Fibrous foods like celery, asparagus, and corn husks can wreak havoc on your garbage disposal. The long, stringy fibers can entangle the blades and cause them to become stuck, leading to clogs and other issues. To avoid this problem, be sure to dispose of fibrous food scraps in the trash.
  4. Pasta and Rice – Pasta and rice may seem like harmless items to put down the garbage disposal, but they can actually cause major problems over time. As they absorb water, they can expand and clog up your pipes, leading to costly repairs. To avoid this issue, dispose of leftover pasta and rice in the trash.
  5. Eggshells – You should avoid putting eggshells down your garbage disposal. While they may seem small and harmless, these shells can easily get stuck in the blades and cause damage. Instead, crush them up and include them in your compost or throw them in the trash.
  6. Coffee Grounds – Beware of coffee grounds. Despite their smooth consistency, they're actually compact and sticky. Disposing of them down your garbage disposal can result in sediment buildup and potentially lead to a clogged drain.
  7. Onions – Did you know that onion waste can cause some plumbing issues? While chopped or diced onions are typically manageable for your garbage disposal, the real troublemaker is the thin membrane just below its outer layer. This wet, delicate layer is often discarded into the disposal and can effortlessly pass through, ending up wedged in the drain and acting like a cargo net, catching more items and clogging your pipes. Keep your plumbing in top shape by disposing of onion membranes separately and preventing a frustrating and costly backup.
  8. Non-Food – Don't be fooled by its name – garbage disposals aren’t meant for all types of waste. Refrain from putting any non-food items, like paper towels, plastic wrappers, and tissues, down the disposal as it can lead to major issues in your drainage system. Plus, these materials may even end up contaminating the nearby water supply. Remember, only biodegradable items should go down your garbage disposal.
  9. Seeds and Pits – Tossing pits and seeds down the garbage disposal may seem convenient, but it's a surefire way to cause damage and create a racket. These hard, round objects don't break down easily and can make your disposal struggle. Save yourself the trouble and simply throw them in the trash. Although dropping tough items down the disposal won't immediately destroy the motor, it can result in a poorly functioning machine that will eventually need to be replaced.
  10. Potatoes – Did you know that throwing potato peels down your disposal can result in major drain blockages? This can happen in one of two ways: the peels could slip past the disposal, potentially getting caught in the drain, or they may turn into a starchy paste. If this paste makes its way into your pipes, you could face some serious plumbing problems later on. It's not just potato peels either. Starchy vegetables and beans can also cause similar issues.
  11. Oatmeal – Oatmeal can also cause problems for your pipes just like pasta. Uncooked oats have a high potential of easily slipping through the disposal, collecting, and expanding down the line. If you are fortunate, they will eventually flow out to the sewer. But if you are not, you may end up with clogged drains.
  12. Corn Husks – You should never try to grind up corn husks in the garbage disposal, simply put them in the compost pile or trash. This is because husks and corn silks are too robust and fibrous for disposals, creating a potential hazard.

Ultimately, it's important to be mindful of what you're putting down your garbage disposal. By avoiding these common items, you can help keep your disposal running smoothly and prevent costly repairs and damage to your pipes. If you do experience issues with your disposal, be sure to call a trusted plumber who can help diagnose and repair the problem.

Need Help with Your Garbage Disposal? Contact Our Experienced Plumbers in Richmond Today!

For over 30 years, our licensed and insured plumbers at Blazer Heating, Air, and Plumbing have been the trusted experts for plumbing services in Richmond and neighboring areas. Whether you’re a homeowner or running a business, we’ve got you covered. So, if your garbage disposal is giving you trouble, we can help.

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Contact our knowledgeable garbage disposal repair specialists in Richmond at (804) 277-2458 or send us a message online. When you contact us, ask about our financing options and current specials.