5 Things That Don’t Belong In The Garbage Disposal


Thank goodness for garbage disposals. Without them, you have to toss out the garbage a lot more often, deal with gross buildup in drain traps, and spend a lot longer with any cooking or cleaning job. Garbage disposals make everything in the kitchen a whole lot easier, but that doesn’t mean they can handle just anything you throw into them.

Many people take advantage of the garbage disposal’s presence by putting any scrap they come across into the kitchen sink. But this can be problematic. To prove this to you, we discuss five things that can damage the garbage disposal or your pipes. When you run into trouble with your plumbing, contact our friendly team! But first, what is a garbage disposal, and why do you need one?

What is a Garbage Disposal?

A garbage disposal, also known as a garbage disposal unit or waste disposal unit, is an appliance installed underneath the kitchen sink that shreds food waste into tiny particles that can pass through plumbing. This keeps your drains clear and reduces the number of trips to the trashcan you need to make.

Why Do You Need One?

Garbage disposals play an important role in the kitchen. They help you process food waste quickly and conveniently, reducing the number of visits you make to the trashcan. Also, this device helps keep your plumbing free from clogs and buildup that can occur from throwing scraps into a regular drain.

Garbage disposals make your waste safer for the environment. By reducing the number of times you use your trash bag, they reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfills. That means they also cut down on the amount of methane produced by such sites.

What Can go Into Your Garbage Disposal?

Although it is easier to list the things that shouldn’t go into your garbage disposal, it’s still important to know the basics of what can go in. Following are some of the best items for your garbage disposal: 

  • Fruit and vegetable peels
  • Eggshells
  • Small bones from cooked fish or chicken
  • Coffee grounds (in moderation)

What Can’t go Into Your Garbage Disposal 

Read on to find some items you should never put in your garbage disposal.

1. Hard Food Items/Non-Foods 

Your garbage disposal does not have sharp “blades” as you might imagine. The impeller that spins around is relatively dull – it’s the grinding of food against a platform that really breaks things down. That’s why hard food items will not break up properly (and they’ll clog your drains anyway).

These should never go into the disposal. Basically, if you can’t chew it easily with your own teeth, it doesn’t belong at your disposal. Hard food items include any of the following and more.

  • Fruit pits
  • Meat bones
  • Shells
  • Popcorn kernels

Of course, plastic wrappers and paper products don’t belong in the disposal either. This may be obvious to you, but be sure to remind kids in the home of this fact often.

2. Stringy/Fibrous Foods 

Fibrous, or stringy, foods can wrap around the impeller of the disposal, which can jam the mechanism. These foods may seem relatively harmless but can do quite a bit of damage.

  • Celery
  • Asparagus
  • Onion skins
  • Potato peelings

After it becomes a habit, it’s easy to assess whether something belongs in the garbage can or the disposal. If you feel you must put celery or asparagus into the kitchen sink drain, be sure to cut it up into small pieces first. This is explained in greater detail below.

3. Large Portions 

Large helpings of leftovers shoveled into the drain at the same time can create a major problem for your disposal motor. It can quickly become overworked. If this happens, try resetting the disposal with the button underneath the sink. However, this can cause a lot of damage, so it’s better to use the disposal for small bits of leftover food or else to spoon leftovers in slowly.

4. Items That Can Clog Your Pipes 

When you have a garbage disposal that is powerful, you forget that some food items, while they can be broken up, are bad for your pipes. You may not realize that some of these things are damaging YOUR DRAINS:

  • Fats, Oils, Grease: These items solidify when they cool and coat the drainpipes and are some of the biggest reasons for clogged drains.
  • Pasta And Rice: Because they expand in water, pasta, and rice are often the culprits for sudden drain clogging, even when broken up by the disposal.
  • Coffee Grounds: Any plumber can tell you about how coffee grounds clump together in the pipes and form blockage. We have all seen this many times before!

5. Trash

You may not believe what we’re about to say. We found it hard to believe when our plumbers told us. Some folks toss trash items into their garbage disposal. We all know it is called garbage disposal but, you should never put plastic bags, paper towels, fruit peels, or other trash items down the garbage disposal.

Remember – just because your garbage disposal can handle a lot of food doesn’t mean it should! So, yes, the disposal can handle breaking these things up. That doesn’t mean they are safe to put in there!


Do you have a problem with your plumbing that you don’t feel comfortable tackling? Contact our team at All American Plumbing Heating & Air. We provide 24/7 service, so even on holidays, you can count on us to be there. We also specialize in drain cleaning and garbage disposal repair, so whatever the issue is, we’ll help you find a solution. Give us a call today at (209) 710-5629! We look forward to helping you out with your plumbing needs.