Garbage Disposal Dos and Don’ts

The garbage disposal is one must-have kitchen appliance if you want to ease the cleaning process. It takes on all the dirty work and gives you an ambient kitchen environment. Unfortunately, the name is misleading, and therefore, most people mishandle it.

Garbage Disposal Dos and Don'ts

Unlike popular beliefs, you can’t put just anything into the disposal unit. The disposer will only serve you if you handle them right and most especially maintain them. There are set ways to use it and handle it that if you follow, you’ll increase its lifespan.

Any mishandling can make the garbage disposal be a source of a plumbing nightmare. You will deal with everything from clogs to jams and even drainage blockage. Therefore, if you want to know how to handle it and maintain it read on.

Garbage Disposal Uses?

In a nutshell, you use the garbage disposal to clear the food leftovers in your kitchen. It grinds the food waste to tiny particles and then releases the content to the sewer. The disposal waste then proceeds to the local water plant treatment system.

Let’s say it’s a quicker way of recycling waste products. ¬†Even though the environmentalists are questioning its effectivity, it’s the closest we must reduce waste fast. But, let me point out that the garbage disposal isn’t the regular garbage can.

Don’t use it for just about anything you can think of because that will damage it and the drainage system big time.

The problem of mishandling the garbage disposal

When you use the garbage disposal for all the wrong reasons, you not only tamper with your drainage system but also the local sewer drainage system.

When you keep clogging your unit, you affect not only your drainage but also the city drainage. It may release the clogs in your drainage, but that doesn’t mean it won’t cause problems to the public pipes.

Anyone who uses the garbage disposal should know that you can’t put grease, oil, and fats into the system.

Unfortunately, people handle disposer alone in their houses. You might use it for all the wrong reasons then make it drain. But when the grease goes into the public pipes, it still causes the damage only this time to the public.

No wonder, city councils don’t encourage the use of garbage disposals. They part with millions of dollars to rectify the cause of the damages by running food waste into the drainage. They encourage people to compost instead.

Therefore, if your city has a sound water treatment plan system, you can use the disposer. But be keen when using it. If possible, put a sink strainer to ensure you know what goes in. This way you care for not only yourself but the community and environment.

A garbage disposal may not work for everyone, after all. You must be an organized and careful person. Otherwise, you will be the reason why your city spends millions of dollars a year for repair.

What Not to Put Down A Garbage Disposal

While using the garbage disposal is the only way to keep the lighter trash bags and the kitchen environment clean, you shouldn’t use it for just anything. You can use it for food waste but not every food waste will go inside the garbage disposal.

Coffee grounds

When I first heard this, I had that cringy face. I asked, aren’t they just small food items that will flow in with ease. Sorry, they don’t they don’t. Most people say that it’s a deodorizer. However, it causes unnecessary damage.

Do you know how the used coffee ground looks like?

The grounds change to a paste-like dense wad. The same way when you put it into the drain it will develop this structure whether used or unused.

What happens is that some of it may flow through the disposal and to the sewer, but some of it will stick to the pipes and sides of the disposer. If your disposal unit also had grease it will attach to it thus forming build-up.

It will only be a matter of time, and if you keep taking it to drains, it will eventually create a big clog. So put, don’t put the coffee grounds in the garbage disposal.


For a long time, there has been a debate on whether it’s okay to put the eggshells in the garbage disposal. You can put the eggshells in but you shouldn’t. There are two sides to this question; some people believe you should put it while others say no you shouldn’t.

So, let’s break it down for you and then let you decide.

  • Those for the idea of eggshells in

Some people are for the thought that the disposer can handle the eggshells. What’s more, they believe that the eggshells are mildly abrasive; therefore they enhance the cleaning. It will help get rid of gunk in the disposer by going into the fissures to remove the gunk.

For them, it’s the reason why it will keep smelling fresh. Well if this is true then it might be a good idea to tear down all the food waste including build-up.

Others say that the eggshells will sharpen the blades which are weird for me considering the disposer doesn’t even have the blades. In fact, the eggshells aren’t also that strong to sharpen the disposer teeth so why people say this I don’t know.

Notice that different people have different responses to this question, and it thus depends on whom you ask.

  • Why not put eggshells in the disposer

Another large group believes that you shouldn’t use it in the disposer and here’s why.

Some talk of the eggshell membrane being bad to the disposal unit. They believe that its membrane is hard to grind in fact it goes and sticks on the grinder, and this affects its grinding experience. As expected, it won’t happen in a day but as you continue to grind.

The other problem is that the eggshell particles will build up in the garbage disposal pipes. You know what that means, more clogs. They form sand-like particles that stick to the pipes. When this happens, the drainage gets even slower.

If you want to spend your money on plumbing then go on with it but if you don’t just stop it.

Albeit, you would understand why people are divided on this question. Some brands like kitchen aid encourage you to grind even the eggshells and bones. Other more popular brands like waste king and Insinkerator say that you can grind it but do it in moderation.

However, I’m yet to find a city waste council that says you should damp the eggshells in the disposer. They know that the ramifications are dire. They will spend millions of dollars just because of that single eggshell you and your neighbor put in the disposer.

Potato peels

If there’s one gadget that evolved massively over a hundred years, it’s the garbage disposal. Unlike ancient disposers, modern ones can handle different wastes. Sadly, potato peels are not one of those.

They can sometimes be too tiny that they will pass through the disposer and to the drainage. The potatoes have a lot of starch, and when you grind them, then add water to it, they will form the thick paste which clogs the disposal.

What’s even worse they act the same way as the egg membrane. Once they are ground, they will attract grease and other waste to create a big clog. Well if you want to get rid of clogs, don’t put the potato peels in.

Pasta, rice, and noodles

We love pasta so much there are countries where a meal isn’t complete without it. You should know that it expands when put in water. This is one reason you should never put them in the disposer as they will expand.

When you put it in the drain to grind, it mixes with the water to form a thick paste that clogs the disposer surface. In other instances, it might stick on the impellers affecting the grinding process. And when it does seep through the chambers then forms a block in the drain pipes.

Well, you can dispose a little bit of the pasta in the disposer, but if you find that you put too much in, you might have to use a lot of cold water to make it run through.

Bones and fruit pits

Well, not all bones are bad. Tiny bones like fish bones are okay. Disposers can’t grind hard bones. If you have ever dropped a hard bone in the disposer you will notice the difference in the sound it makes. I think of all don’t do items this is a no brainer.

They are both hard, which makes it hard to grind. The general rules to go by on this is that if it’s too hard to chew, it shouldn’t go into the disposer. This means that fruit pits are a no in the garbage disposal.

There’s a debate as to whether you can put the chicken bones in. Some people say that even chicken bones will cause clogs. I would say it will all depend on how powerful your machine is but generally use the compost for the chicken bones.

Don’t you ever fret though, when you have dropped a tiny bone in the disposer as it can handle the little single piece. However, don’t jam it with only bones and expect it to work on them especially if the bones are too hard.

General trash

You know some people think that since it’s a garbage disposer, it will handle all the different trash forms. Well, this is not a garbage can. It’s an electric disposal unit. Therefore, you won’t dispose of just anything in it as you do with the trash can.

Other people even dispose of paper towels in it, that will clog it. Use the trash can for its role and the disposer for its purpose.

Other food waste you shouldn’t dispose of in the can include:

  • Nuts
  • Oatmeal
  • Fibrous veggies
  • Fats and grease
  • Shells
  • Corn husks
  • Onion skin
  • Cigarette butts

Other Things to Avoid

The cleaning chemicals

We have no choice but clean the different gadgets in the kitchen. This, however, doesn’t mean that you can use any chemical in the disposer. If you aren’t careful you may erode the disposer with the cleaning chemicals.

Well, in this case, we don’t mean the regular dish soap cleaner and other ordinary cleaners you use. We instead say avoid bleaches especially if you aren’t sure they work with the disposer.

Other cleaning chemicals to avoid include harsh drain busters and industrial-grade cleaners. This one will weigh down the disposer and even cause rapid tear and leakage. Sadly, they may also damage the drainage line.

If you are using the septic sewer system, you should already know that there are detergents you don’t use. They will tamper with the bacterial waste breakdown.

If this waste is going to the water treatment plant, and it uses the bacterial method to break waste down, don’t use harsh chemicals.

It’s quite easy to clean garbage disposal. You can use the recommended homemade cleaners like ice cubes, vinegar, lemon, and baking soda. If you must use the store-bought filters, make sure the one you buy is for the garbage disposal.

No paint

I know you were maybe painting your kitchen and while this is a no brainer some people want to ignore it. Don’t you ever pour the paint into the drain. It will start to paint the interior of the garbage disposal. I mean it sticks on the wall of the disposer and that of the drain.

Sadly, it’s tough to get rid of such. It goes on to form a severe clog. This will ultimately damage the disposer completely.

Dont overfill the disposer

Whether it’s the peels or any other food waste you are disposing of, you should put only a little bit of garbage at a time. If you overfill, you risk jamming the disposer, it will take too long to work on the waste, and then you become susceptible to clogs.

Dont run hot water

When grinding, you should never use hot water. Aside from that, don’t even use hot water for cleaning. When grinding, the cold water must cool the overheating motors, and it also lubricates the shredders and flywheel.

These are both things that the hot water can’t do. While you may be tempted to use the hot water in cleaning it’s never a good idea. This is especially true if you think that there’s some oil, fat or grease in the chambers. It will form so much build up on the inner parts of the chamber.

Dont put your hands in the disposer

Although you may have switched it off, you should never reach for items you accidentally dropped in the disposer with your hands. I mean, you never know when it will just begin to grind. Always use the tongs and pliers.

If you must use your hands though, protect them using the hand gloves. Only do this when you have completely removed it from any source of power.

Stop calling the plumber all the time

Learn to use the troubleshooting method to know what you need to do. Some things you call the plumber for are not worth it. There are many ways to DIY repair it before you call the plumber. Unless you have tried everything, but it still doesn’t work, do it yourself and cut on cost.

The Dos

What can go into the disposer

On a recent article I wrote, I couldn’t help but wonder if I need this gadget since there’s so much you can’t put in it. I thought to myself that it appears tube such a delicate item also. Well, there are local communities that won’t allow you to live in the vicinity without it.

This is all for a good reason. There’s so much good in having the garbage disposer.

Lemon peels

Who doesn’t like the lemon peel scent?

The essence of the lemon peels is to deodorize the disposal unit. The one thing that garbage disposal suffers from is a bad odor. But if you can use lemon rinds, it will fight the smell. Let’s agree on this point though, contrary to most believe that the lemon is a cleaner it isn’t.

It gives you the citric acid, but then the acid is minimal and mild to affect the cleaning on the garbage disposal. Expect it to deodorize the disposer but not really clean it. If you want it to clean the disposer you have to use a mix of other ingredients like baking soda and lemon.

Some plumbers question the disposal of the lemon peels. They say that although the disposer will grind, it all goes into the kitchen drainage line. This then will form clogs in the long run. They, therefore, recommend using the lemon peels but sparingly.

Liquid and soft food

All the juices, water, milk, and other forms of liquid waste can go into the disposer. They say that if your baby can eat that food, then most likely the disposer can work on it too. It’s okay to dispose any form of soft food. Just don’t put in the ones discouraged above.

Tiny bits of food

Regardless of the waste type, you should never dispose it off at once. Put it in pieces at a time for perfect grinding of the waste. Put a little bit and give it time to grind then put more waste.

Veggies and fruits

Except for the fibrous types, you can put most veggies and fruits in the disposer. For vegetables, if you can tear it then most likely it can grind in the disposer. The fruits are good but make sure you aren’t throwing the hard fruits in the disposer. They can sadly mess the blades.

Most fruit rinds will grind well in the disposer and not cause clogs. If you can have the citrus rinds, you will leave it smelling all fresh.

The meats

If you have smaller portions of your cooked meat, you can put them in. Remember, we are saying the cooked meat, not raw one. Also, don’t put large pieces of meat as they might as well clog it.

The garbage disposal works with almost everything you can compost. You only need to know that if it’s biodegradable then most likely you can compost it.

Other things to do

There are nonfood items that you can put in the disposer, and they include the following.

Run cold water

There’s nothing as vital as cold water for the garbage disposer. It uses it when grinding, to lubricate the shredders, impellers, and flywheels. It further works to clean the disposer. Without running enough water when grinning, you risk clogging the drains.

Ice cubes are vital

The ice cubes are best used when you wish to clean the disposer. It will get rid of the stuck residue. When you grind the ice cubes, it goes deep into the fissures to work on the build-ups. This is why most brands ask you to use it occasionally.

You can even make the lemon juice and vinegar ice cubes for even more cleaning of the inner parts.

Dish soap

While you should dispose of the dish soap in the disposer, it will help you to clean. If you have the grease dish soap the better since it will clear even the grease and gunk. Its good practice to us a little bit of dish soap and cold water for cleaning after you use the disposer.

Follow the sequence of use

When you wish to use the garbage disposal, you should follow the set sequence. If you skip one point, you risk damaging the disposer soon.

Begin by running the cold water, then switch on the disposer. Next, add bits of the waste as the water is still running. Finish off by switching it off and letting the water run for a few more seconds.

Nonetheless, use the guide of your manufacturer when you are using the disposer. It will cover for the slight differences there may be.

Cleaning and maintenance

For the disposer to last longer, you will have to clean it and take care of it. You should, however, use the right procedure to clean it. If you don’t clean it frequently it will soon start smelling. Clean it once a week and then thoroughly clean it monthly.


If you have children, you should teach them the safety of the kitchen appliance. Take your time to tell them that they shouldn’t operate the disposer let alone put their fingers in. This will save you from unnecessary accidents.

You should also turn off the disposer when you are not using it for the safety of everyone in the house.

There may be more dos and don’ts that we didn’t say here but those you will learn as you go. Nevertheless, even when you have done everything right, you will have a problem occasionally. Always find out if you can handle the problem or you need to call the plumber.