June 1, 2024
What You Can and Can't Put in the Garbage Disposal

Having a garbage disposal can be a convenience in your kitchen. With a simple flick of a switch, leftover scraps are ground up and washed away, eliminating the hassle of throwing them in the trash. However, owning a garbage disposal comes with the responsibility of knowing what you can safely put down the drain and what you absolutely cannot. To keep your disposal and drains clear and healthy, you need to understand the do’s and don’ts.

Items Safe for the Garbage Disposal

Plenty of food items are safe for your garbage disposal, with some even beneficial to the machine. Learn what you can safely toss down the drain.

Ice Cubes

Ice cubes offer a great way to clean your garbage disposal. Toss a few cubes down the drain and let the machine chew them up to clean the blades. Grinding ice cubes can also help to eliminate odors from the disposal unit by dislodging food particles and debris that may be contributing to unpleasant smells.

Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, and oranges are another great way to clean and freshen your garbage disposal. Their natural acidity helps break down grease and eliminate unpleasant odors in the disposal unit. Just be sure to remove the peels and rinds or cut them into small pieces so that you don’t overwork your unit.

Soft Foods

Most soft foods, such as vegetable scraps, are safe for your garbage disposal. Your disposal’s blades can easily break down these foods, and you can wash them away without causing clogs or damage.

Soapy Water

One more excellent way to keep your drain and garbage disposal clean is to wash dish soap down the drain with cold water. As it circulates through the disposal, it cleans the blades and body of your machine. However, it’s important to avoid using hot water as it can melt fats and cause potential problems in your plumbing.

What to Avoid Putting in the Garbage Disposal

Awareness of items you should not put down in your garbage disposal is crucial for maintaining its proper function and longevity. Avoiding certain items can prevent damage to the disposal unit, reduce the risk of clogs in your drains, and help maintain the health of your plumbing system.

Grease and Oil

Pouring grease or oil down your garbage disposal is a common mistake that can lead to serious plumbing issues. When you pour grease or oil down the drain, it may appear to flow easily while hot, but as it cools, it solidifies and can create blockages in the garbage disposal and your plumbing system. These blockages can lead to backups, foul odors, and costly repairs. It’s important to properly dispose of grease and oil by allowing them to cool in a container, such as a glass jar or coffee can, before throwing them in the trash.


Putting bones down the garbage disposal is not recommended, as they can damage the blades and motor of the appliance. Bones are hard to grind, potentially causing wear and tear on the blades over time. In addition, the irregular shape and sharp edges of bones pose a risk of getting stuck in the disposal or damaging your plumbing system.

Egg Shells

Egg shells have a sticky membrane lining the inside that can get stuck in your plumbing and cause blockages. Egg shells are excellent for composting but should never be put down the drain.

Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds are one of those deceptive food items that seems safe but isn’t. When mixed with water, coffee grounds clump together rather than wash apart. This makes coffee grounds a hazard for creating clogs in your garbage disposal and pipes.

Starchy Foods and Flour

Starchy foods like flour and pasta tend to puff up and expand with water. They also clump together. Putting these types of foods down the drain increases your chances of a clog, as they may create a mass that captures other food particles, blocking your drainage system.

Contact the Pros

If you run into problems with your garbage disposal or want one installed, our experienced team at Gunthers Heating, Cooling, and Plumbing can help. We have been serving the residents of American Fork, UT since 1910. We install, maintain, and repair heating and cooling systems. In addition, we are expert plumbers who can provide drain cleaning, toilet and faucet repairs and installations, leak detection, and leak repair services.

Count on the reliable and skilled plumbers at Gunthers Heating, Cooling, and Plumbing for all your garbage disposal needs.

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