The Do's And Don'ts Of Disposing Food In Your Garbage Disposal

Image of plumber
Your garbage disposal is the trash can of your plumbing system. At least, kind of. It can grind, liquify and mash your leftovers and do what the kitchen sink can't on it's own — carry the ground-down mush away.
Even though your disposal seems like it should eat up just about any kitchen waste that you have to jam down it, some foods (and other food-related items) are no-go's. Knowing what to nix from your disposal list can save your sink's plumbing and stop potential problems from happening. Carefully choosing what goes down the disposal drain may save your system and extend its life.
Before you start scraping your plates into the garbage disposal, take a look at what you can and can't empty into it.
Lemon Peels
These seem hard and potentially disposal-clogging at best. But they aren't on the "don't throw" list. Cut up lemon peels can actually help to clean your disposal out. The citrus scent adds a fresh smell and is the perfect end to your disposal cleaning cycle.
A word of caution before tossing all your peels into the disposal — avoid adding too many. One finely chopped or grated peel will do. And make sure to add plenty of water when you run the disposal.
Ice
Why would anyone want to get rid of ice by putting it down the disposal? For the most part, they wouldn't. But that won't stop some home owners from adding ice to their sink's garbage disposal.
While ice isn't technically a 'food', it is something that some people toss down the disposal. And for a very good reason. Adding ice to your garbage disposal can help to keep it in working order. As the disposal grinds the ice, it cleans and sharpens the blades.
Bones
They may be hard like ice, put poultry or meat bones won't grind the gunk off of the blades in the same way. Ice melts and easily goes down the drain. Bones won't do the same, and end up spinning around your disposal. And that's the best-case scenario. It's possible that the bones left over from your dozen chicken wings, turkey dinner or bone-in steak will spin and clog your disposal.
Coffee Grounds
The may seem small and innocent, but coffee grounds are a major no-no for your garbage disposal. Even though they may start going down the drain, the gunky grounds tend to clump together and can cause clogs.
You may have read a blog, book, magazine article or some other supposedly helpful advice column that suggested using a coffee grounds mixture (usually made with baking soda) to deodorize your garbage disposal. This type of cleaning option mat be chemical-free, but it can also cause clogs and jams at the bottom of your disposal and into the drain.
Pits
Your peach pits don't belong in the garbage disposal. The hard nuggets that are left over from eating the soft, squishy fruit won't fare well in your kitchen's plumbing. Like poultry and meat bones, pits are too dense for your disposal to grind up. Again, the best-case scenario here is that they spin and spin some more. But it's more likely that they'll clog or damage your disposal.
Grease
The fatty leftovers from frying chicken or cooking a hamburger needs to go into a glass or metal container to cool before you cover it and throw it out in the garbage. That is the garbage can, and not in the garbage disposal.
When fat and grease cool it hardens. This happens in a jar, in your sink or in your plumbing. Hardened grease will clog your drains, causing major plumbing problems.
Did you accidentally toss a chicken bone down the disposal? Is grease gunking up your pipes? F & M Plumbing provides residential garbage disposal repairs.