Eight Things to Never Put in Your Garbage Disposal

Monday, 07 March 2022 17:23
Eight Things to Never Put in Your Garbage Disposal

For many homeowners in Statesville, NC, owning a garbage disposal is a magical thing. Put food waste in, and it's gone, ground into oblivion, and washed into the sewer system forever to be broken down by bacteria. 

Garbage disposals are complex systems that, when used thoughtfully, will make your life easier. However, when used incorrectly, you can be in for a world of hurt. Like many other plumbing issues, a clogged or overworked garbage disposal may need the expertise of a professional plumbing company.

Before we get into things that you can't put into a garbage disposal, we need to talk a little bit about how a garbage disposal works. 


Garbage Disposal Basics

Garbage disposals are mounted underneath your sink and are designed to collect waste in a grinding chamber. Once on, a spinning disk rapidly turns, forcing material into the outer walls of the grinding chamber. This pulverizes the waste, which is then washed down the sink by water let in from tiny holes in the chambers walls. 

One thing to note is that garbage disposals may not really be compatible with septic systems unless the system is specifically designed for that purpose. Often, most food waste is thrown in the garbage disposal instead of the trash or compost piles. 

While sewer systems are well equipped to handle massive amounts of waste, septic tanks are not up to the task. The enzymes and bacteria can only handle so much and ultimately will be unable to break down the excess waste. 

8 Things to Never Put In Your Garbage Disposal

1. Coffee Grounds

While many people say that coffee grounds are safe for your garbage disposal, they are not. Sure, coffee grounds can absorb nasty smells, but at what cost? 

Coffee grounds can clump together and can create a massive clog. This may keep your sink from draining properly.

2. Meat

Want to make your house smell like rotting flesh? Then you can skip this step. 

Meat should never be put into your garbage disposal. Because of the way the grinder wall works, meat particles will easily stick to the interior of the machine. Over time this meat will rot and become rancid, generating a horrible stench. 

We encourage you to use alternative methods of disposal for meat and seafood.

3. Bones and Shells

It should be obvious, but hard material should never be disposed of in a garbage disposal. The impeller plate will not likely be able to hold up against things like bones or things like lobster shells. 

Hard materials will cause blades to jam or break and will need to be replaced by a professional plumber.

4. Eggshells

Another common myth (like coffee grounds) is that eggshells are a great way to sharpen garbage disposal blades. FALSE. 

Not only can eggshells damage the grinding chamber, but the membrane inside of the shell can also cause sticky blockages that could eventually clog the drain. 

5. Potato Peels and Onion Skins

Potato peels and onion skins are often thin and wet and can easily get through the impeller blades of a garbage disposal. This could eventually lead to build-up and lead to clogs, and blockages. 

6. Starchy Foods

Starchy or fibrous foods should not find their way into a garbage disposal. A lot of these foods are either stringy or expand when wet. 

Stringy foods like pumpkin, celery, asparagus, etc., may get tangled in the impeller blades and cause jams. Foods like pasta, oats, and rice may be small enough to get through the grinding chamber, but will expand in the sink's plumbing, eventually leading to a clog.

7. Non Food Items

While it may be obvious, putting things that are not considered food down a garbage disposal is a no-go. Paper towels, egg cartons, and plastic toys are just going to jam up the blades and wreak havoc on the mechanics of your disposal unit. 

Caustic chemicals and paint are also no good. It’s best to only use dish soap or cleaners specific to garbage disposals.

8. Your Hands!

If your garbage disposal gets jammed or clogged, the worst thing you can do is try and clear it with your hands. Remember, a garbage disposal is a DANGEROUS collection of grinding surfaces and blades; essentially a horror movie waiting to happen. If you have a simple clog, flush it with hot water and vinegar. NEVER put your hands inside.

While garbage disposals are a wonderful asset to your home, not knowing what can go in your disposal unit can lead to anything from a minor clog to a major malfunction. Having a solid, professional plumber available to help assess and repair your garbage disposal is a great tool to have in your belt as a homeowner. 

The team at Action Service Company, LLC. has helped numerous Statesville and Iredell County residents unclog and repair their main sewer lines over the years. If you suspect a major plumbing problem, we have the knowledge and skills to assist you. Contact us today at the first sign of any major problem with your garbage disposal.