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The very term “garbage disposal” can be a bit deceptive: if you aren’t careful, you’ll trick yourself into believing your sink is equipped to handle all your household trash.
But despite popular assumptions, garbage disposals aren’t just a water-based garbage can. Putting the wrong thing down one can impact not only your sink but also your pipes. In the worst-case scenario, it can even affect your sewer system over time!
Here’s what not to put down a garbage disposal:
Bones, Shells, and Fruit Pits
Hard bones, seafood shells, and pits won’t break down with the spinning of your garbage disposal’s blades. Larger ones won’t even make it all the way down your pipes!
Food items like these can cause damage to your blades and disposal. If you accidentally drop a small fishbone or cherry pit down the drain, chances are your system can handle it. But avoid putting these solid foods down on a regular basis.
Fibrous Fruits and Vegetables
Any fruit or vegetable with long, fibrous strings will tangle into a sticky mess around your disposal blades. This in turn can clog your system.
These kinds of food items include celery, corn husks and silk, edamame pods, and asparagus. If you must put them down your disposal, chop them into very small pieces.
You’ve probably wondered, “Can you put coffee grounds down the disposal?”
You can be forgiven for thinking these are small enough to wash away without issue, and for being tempted by the popular use of coffee grounds to eliminate odors like the ones from your sink.
However, coffee grounds can quickly cluster together and become a dense paste that you definitely don’t want clogging your drain. If you’re trying to eliminate odors and keep your system running clean, try these garbage disposal maintenance tips as a safer alternative.
Pasta and Oatmeal
When we think about what not to put down the disposal, we can’t bypass “expansion threats,” or foods that expand when soaked with water. Both oatmeal and pasta expand in your drain just as they’d expand in a pot full of water, so it’s better to put large amounts of these into your trash can.
A few scraps here and there won’t hurt, but make sure to let the water run for a bit afterward.
Grease and Oils
Fats, Oils, and grease (FOGs) shouldn’t go down any drain in any quantity: they have a tendency to congeal and clog later, and in large amounts, they’re even linked to overflowing sewers.
You might even want to avoid putting foods heavy in fats or oils—like butter, peanut butter, or ice cream—down the drain as well.
Know What Not to Put Down a Garbage Disposal
As long as you’re aware of what not to put down a garbage disposal, you can keep your pipes and your disposal running smoothly for longer. As always, let the water run for a bit after you put any food down the drain, and use your disposal safely to avoid clogs.
If you’re interested in learning more tips like these to keep your home well-maintained, check out our other blog posts!