Your garbage disposal is a big help in the kitchen. But what can it really handle? Some things might make total sense, but it's important to double-check what's actually going down your drain.
What Is a Garbage Disposal For?
A garbage disposal is a machine that is primarily used to shred food waste into super small pieces that won't clog pipes. It's smart to run your disposal regularly and to keep it clean. And it's important to always run your disposal with running cold water, which solidifies any grease or oils so they can be ground too. Basically, the smartest rule of garbage disposal usage is don't grind if it isn't biodegradable.
Do Put This Down Your Disposal
All of these items are safe to put down your disposal:
- Citrus rinds: Small sections of citrus fruits also naturally clean your disposal and leave your drain smelling fresh.
- Coffee grounds: Although there are mixed answers, the general consensus is small amounts of coffee grounds are OK to put down your drain. And they also leave your disposal smelling fresh. Large amounts, however, can collect in pipes and create backups due to the oils found in grounds.
- Egg shells: The hard shells also help clean and sharpen garbage disposal blades.
- Cooked meat scraps: Food scraps leftover from dinner are fine if they end up in the garbage disposal after washing dishes. Just avoid large amounts or big chunks.
- Small bones: If a few small bones end up in your disposal, it's totally OK.
- Fruit scraps: Apples, oranges, bananas, berries, and grapes are all fine if they end up going down the garbage disposal. And they also help freshen your drain.
- Most vegetable scraps: Pretty much all veggies are fine to let run through the garbage disposal. There are a few that are too fibrous and therefore might be hard on your disposal, which we listed below.
Don't Put These Items Down Your Disposal
There are a few biodegradable items that aren't a good idea for disposals, such as:
- Fruit pits: Fruit pits are best to be deposited in your compost or garbage, not the disposal.
- Large bones: If you're finding yourself trying to shove something in the disposal, then it's too big. Toss big bones in the compost or trash.
- Shrimp shells: Shrimp shells are pretty tough and can also leave a not-so-fresh scent.
- Banana peels: Because they're super fibrous, toss your banana peels in the compost instead.
- Nuts: Let's just imagine peanut butter in your garbage disposal for a moment. Yeah, not such a good idea.
- Grease: Avoid pouring grease or anything super fatty down your drain or in your garbage disposal. It congeals into a big, nasty mass that will clog your pipes.
- Corn husks: Husks are another fibrous material that make your disposal work really hard. It's best to toss them in the compost.
- Onion skins: Onion skins are also a no-no for the garbage disposal.
- Artichokes: The leaves of an artichoke are really tough and can get caught in the disposal blades, causing it to break down.
- Potato peels: Potatoes are really starchy, which isn't a good combination with your garbage disposal — or your drain. Toss in the compost instead.
- Asparagus: Another fibrous veggie that isn't good for the blades of your disposal.
- Pasta: Pasta expands in pipes, even after it's been shredded to bits, which can cause clogs.
- Rice: Just like pasta, rice expands so avoid letting it slip into your disposal.
Really, DO NOT Put Down Your Disposal
- Cigarette butts: Really, just don't do it. Along with shredding chemicals and other icky stuff, all those bits stick around, and really don't smell great.
- Shells: Just like shrimp shells, other shells aren't good for your garbage disposal.
- Broken glass: Please do not put broken glass in your garbage disposal. Not smart.