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What Not to Put Down a Garbage Disposal: A List of 10 Things


What Not to Put Down a Garbage Disposal

Garbage disposals make your life in the kitchen much easier. They handle organic waste, helping you keep the sink clean and your trashcan odor-free. They work by using a series of sharp blades to effectively blend waste into a slush, which is then washed away down the drain.

However, despite the fact that their blades are metal and very durable, garbage disposals cannot handle anything you put down them. Certain food items, or common non-food waste, can cause complications. Full plumbing clogs, damaged blades, and other problems can cause damage to your plumbing and prevent your garbage disposal from working properly.

Being aware of what not to put down a garbage disposal can help you avoid kitchen headaches in the future.

What Not to Put Down a Garbage Disposal

All the following are types of waste that a kitchen will normally produce. Instead of putting them down the disposal, throw them in the compost or garbage. If you’re unsure about something that is not mentioned below, it’s always safer to throw it out instead.

Cooking Oils and Greases

Any sort of liquid oil, grease, or fat is something that should never go down the drain. In liquid form, it should pass right by your garbage disposal. The issue is that all of these items can congeal into a jelly-like mush that clogs your drains.

In some cases, it can cover the blades of your garbage disposal, preventing it from blending effectively or even moving at all in extreme cases. Pour these items into a can, and simply throw them out instead.


Though eggs are typically thought of as fragile food items, their shells are actually quite durable. Putting eggshell chips down your garbage disposal can cause damage to the blades. This is because small chips are unlikely to break like the whole shell.

Further, eggs have a web-like membrane that sits underneath the shell. This membrane can wrap itself around your blades and prevent them from cutting other food waste up properly.


While almost every other vegetable can be handled with ease by your garbage disposal, you need to stay away from onions. Just like eggs, they have a membrane right under their skin. This can become tangled in your disposal’s blades, or even make it past the disposal and form a sort of makeshift net that catches other debris right after your disposal.

Coffee Grounds

As their name would indicate, coffee grounds are already completely ground up. A garbage disposal will be unable to break them up any more. The real issue with coffee grounds doesn’t lie with their effect on your garbage disposal, but instead with what they do inside your plumbing.

Grounds will clump up and create large clogs that are hard to break up with a plumbing snake. It can be almost impossible to completely clear coffee grounds from your pipes, as a little bit will remain as sediment even after clogs are removed. Avoid the problem completely by putting them in the trash.


While putting meat scraps down the garbage disposal is fine, you should be careful to remove any bone fragments before you do so. Bones can dull the blades of your disposal, and in some cases may not even break, lodging themselves against the blades and preventing your disposal from operating.

Nuts and Fruit Pits

Like bones, nuts and fruit pits are very hard. Further, their smaller size means that they are harder for the blades of your disposal to hit and grind. Since they can slip by pretty easily, they can collect in your plumbing and cause clogs as well.

Paper Products

Though not food, common paper products like paper towel or tissues should stay out of your disposal. They are easily shredded, but the issue is that they can clump up when wet, which can stop your disposal from moving. They can also hold onto other debris in your plumbing, increasing the likelihood of clogs.

Drain Cleaning Chemicals

When you need to clear a clog, or if you want to remove an odor from your garbage disposal, the last thing you should do is use a drain cleaner mixture. These mixtures can be corrosive, damaging plastic and metal with repeat exposures. This can lead to leaks, rust development, and other issues which can be expensive and complicated to repair.

Instead, use a drain snake to remove physical clogs in your pipes. For odors coming out of your garbage disposal, use ice cubs, lemons, and vinegar to kill bacteria, discourage pests, and remove odors.


Anything carb based is a bad mixture with your home’s plumbing. Rice, bread, oatmeal, and pasta can all hold onto a massive amount of water. This can cause them to expand and create a solid blockage in your plumbing.

Further, rice and pasta carry a lot of starch on them. Starch can rub off of noodles and grains of rice that do drain properly, forming a film which can clog pipes itself.

Keep Your Garbage Disposal and Plumbing Happy

By following this list of what not to put down a garbage disposal, you can keep your unit functioning properly for a very long time. It will also save you money by preventing plumbing damage.

If you’ve been having any trouble with your garbage disposal, or your home’s plumbing more generally, feel free to get in touch with us. Our team of professionals in the Miami area will be able to examine your system and determine what’s gone wrong.

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1 Comment
  1. Laura McDonough

    I can’t understand why ppl are so stupid stuffing the wrong items down the disposal. We know plumbers, and they too think ppl are stupid, ppl even flush disposable diapers and feminine products down toilets.


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