what shouldn't go in a garbage disposal

What Foods Are Bad for Garbage Disposals?

While it seems like there’s nothing your disposal can’t, well, dispose of, even this hardworking appliance has its limits. What foods are bad for garbage disposals? Starchy items like potatoes, rice and pastas expand when exposed to water, potentially causing clogs. Learn what shouldn’t go in a garbage disposal as well as how to maintain it to maximize performance.

Kitchen Dos and Don’ts: What Foods Are Bad for Garbage Disposals

Knowing what foods are bad for garbage disposals not only prevents damage but can elongate the life of this kitchen convenience. From fibrous foods to some unexpected surprises, our list of what not to put in a garbage disposal can save you time and money.

#1. Oil and Grease

While it’s all too easy to pour hot oil and grease down the disposal, these cooking byproducts can have lasting effects. Once the oil or grease cools, it solidifies, creating drain clogs and backups. One of our most essential garbage disposal tips calls for collecting unused oil and grease in an old can. Once the can is full, it can be disposed of in the trash.

#2. Coffee Grounds

Though coffee grounds appear small and harmless, they form a thick paste when exposed to water during brewing. This paste can quickly clog the disposal drain, especially if it accumulates on a daily basis. To avoid blockages, always dispose of used grounds in the trash. Better yet, scatter them around the base of your shrubs or garden plants to act as a nutrient-rich fertilizer.

#3. Fibrous Foods

Celery, artichokes and asparagus top the list of what foods are bad for garbage disposals. These vegetables consist of long strands that can easily wrap around disposal blades, impeding their rotation or even causing damage. Whether they’re raw or cooked, always dispose of fibrous foods in the trash or compost pile to avoid disposal breakdowns.

list of what not to put in a garbage disposal

#4. Bones and Pits

While a quality garbage disposal can handle the occasional small, thin bone, larger ones can do damage. The grinding motion of the impellers simply can’t handle hard items, while large bones and pits can also clog the drain. What foods can you put down the garbage disposal? The meat and fruit around bones and pits is safe to process, as long as it’s not too fibrous.

#5. Starchy Food

Though pasta, rice and potatoes are soft enough to seem safe, they often result in disposal clogs. Starchy food expands when exposed to water, causing blockages if disposed of in large amounts. While a stray noodle is likely harmless, dispose of larger portions in the trash.

#6. Eggshells

While many believe that eggshells help clean disposal blades, there are garbage disposal cleaning tips that are less risky. The thin membrane inside eggshells can twist around the blades, preventing their rotation and causing damage. What can you put in your garbage disposal? Raw or cooked eggs are safe as long as they’re shell-free.

what foods are bad for garbage disposals

#7. Nuts

Whether it’s a fancy grinder in the grocery store or the motion of your disposal blades, nuts form a thick paste when ground. For this reason, avoid putting even a handful of nuts down your disposal. The motion of the blades will cause the nuts to release their oils, creating a paste that can clog the drain. While a few nuts shouldn’t be a problem, dispose of larger amounts in the trash.

How to Maintain a Garbage Disposal

Knowing what foods are bad for garbage disposals is just half the battle in maintaining it properly. The right upkeep can keep your disposal grinding away for years to come.

These garbage disposal maintenance tips can prolong its life and improve performance:

  • Clean the disposal regularly: Process ice cubes and salt and/or soapy water to regularly clean your disposal drain and blades. Deodorize by processing small pieces of citrus peel after and in between cleanings.
  • Always use cold water: Running a steady flow of water with the disposal helps flush food waste down the drain. Use cold water to prevent fatty foods from solidifying and causing blockages.
  • Process food slowly and in small amounts: Rapidly stuffing the disposal with large amounts is a recipe for clogs. Instead, slowly feed it small, 1-inch scraps, pausing for several seconds between each to allow for adequate processing.

Whether it’s a broken disposal or a range breakdown, call Oak Valley Appliance for any kitchen appliance repair

David lange

David Lange

In 1982 David went to work for his mom as a service technician and has been servicing appliances ever since. He is the owner of Oak Valley Appliance, an appliance repair company in Tehachapi, CA, with local techs also serving Lancaster, Ridgecrest, and surrounding areas.