Garbage disposals are extremely convenient for everyday use in your kitchen. However, it’s important to pay attention to what you’re putting down the drain to avoid problems from harmful foods.
It’s generally safe to put small amounts of most foods in your garbage disposal without consequence. Some foods that are considered safe and beneficial for your disposal are fruits, vegetables, soup, and salad. Borax and biodegradable degreasers are also OK. You should avoid putting bones, plastic, fruit pits, drain cleaners, and bleach down your disposal.
Dealing with a clogged or jammed garbage disposal is inconvenient and unpleasant for homeowners. To prevent problems in the future, you should be aware of the foods and substances (such as glass or chemicals) that are considered safe and unsafe for an efficient system. In this article, you will learn which common household foods and chemicals can be used in your kitchen sink, and which ones to avoid.
Six Garbage Disposal Safe foods
When using your sink in the kitchen daily, there are many foods you can put down the disposal without much thought. Not only will they go down the drain easily, but some of these items can even benefit your disposal.
Most fruits are safe to put down your garbage disposal, as long as they are disposed of in small pieces and quantities. Be sure to remove any pits or hard rinds before putting fruit scraps in your drain.
Scraps from strawberries and apples, for example, are safe to put in your garbage disposal. Similarly, the flesh of watermelon and the inside of an avocado are OK, but the hard outer shell and pit should be placed in the garbage can instead of going down the drain.
Small amounts of vegetable scraps and peels are also safe for your garbage disposal. As long as any hard pits are removed first, you shouldn’t have any problems with vegetables clogging your drain.
Finely chopped pieces of cooked meat in small amounts can be placed in your garbage disposal. Ensure there are no bones or large chunks when putting meat down the drain.
It’s important to note that all meat going down your garbage disposal should always be cooked. This will help you avoid the smell of rotting pieces in the bottom of your sink if something gets left behind.
Similar to fruit and vegetable scraps, salad is a garbage disposal-safe food. Small pieces of greens and chopped produce will go down your drain easily without clogging it.
Most soups are already pureed in liquid form, making it easy for your garbage disposal blades to push them down the drain. Even with small pieces of vegetables, you can pour leftover soup in the sink without worry.
In addition to citrus fruits being safe for your garbage disposal, the peels are actually beneficial. If you have any lingering odors coming from the bottom of your sink’s drain, simply put lemon or orange peels inside and run your disposal. The aroma of the grinded peels will eliminate bad smells for an easy DIY cleaning hack.
Garbage Disposal Safe Chemicals
In addition to the foods you allow in your garbage disposal, it’s important to pay attention to safe and unsafe chemicals. The following substances are OK to use in your sink, drain, and garbage disposal.
Borax is a popular household laundry product. It also has many other cleaning uses around the house, which includes the garbage disposal. A small amount of the substance can be poured down the sink, followed by cold water to get rid of any debris and improve the smell.
Biodegradable degreasers are another safe substance for your garbage disposal. They break down the stubborn dirt and grime you can’t reach inside your drain.
When poured down the sink, they remove built-up grease sitting on and around the blades. If left untreated, this slippery build up can affect how effectively your blades chop up food. Scented degreaser formulas can also deodorize your system while cleaning it.
Contrary to the safe foods detailed above, these items should not be put into your garbage disposal.
Avoid putting these items in a garbage disposal
Avoid putting food or materials that don’t belong in your garbage disposal, as it can cause it to smell bad, damage the disposal, or create a costly repair you don’t want to deal with.
Bones are unsafe for your garbage disposal because they are too hard to be broken down. Your garbage disposal blades are not equipped to grind bones of any size, even small chicken bone pieces.
Fruit pits that come from peaches, avocados, and apricots should not go down your kitchen sink. Similar to meat bones, they are too strong to be broken down and can break your garbage disposal blades.
Plastic or paper
Non-edible substances like plastic and paper are not suitable for a garbage disposal. They do not break down like soft food items, and can get stuck in the drain, causing clogs and blockages. If you continuously put these items down the drain, they will have to be manually removed later.
When disposing of any fruits or vegetable scraps, ensure the plastic produce stickers are removed first. Similarly, throw away any plastic or paper packaging in the garbage instead of pushing it down the sink.
Pasta and rice
Starchy foods such as pasta and rice are often the culprits of garbage disposal jams. When they sit in the bottom of your drain, they soak up water and expand, taking up more space in your disposal.
Don’t be fooled by the soft texture and tiny pieces. Even in the smallest quantity, these foods are very harmful for your garbage disposal and drain pipes.
Fibrous foods like celery and corn husks also present problems for a garbage disposal. They are more difficult to break down into small pieces, and remain in the drain in long strings that can contribute to clogs.
Banana peels are another fibrous food that is not suitable for a garbage disposal. They can take several years to break down and decompose on their own in nature, and this concept is no different in your kitchen sink’s drain.
Beans are often too small for a garbage disposal’s blades to break up effectively. As a result, they collect in the bottom of the drain and block other foods from traveling down the pipes smoothly. This starchy food may also expand in the presence of water, similar to pasta and rice, making clogs in the drain even worse.
Grease is another harmful substance for your garbage disposal. In addition to sticking onto the blades and making them slippery, the grease can collect inside the pipes and harden. After frying chicken or cooking bacon, you should dispose of the leftover grease in the garbage or outside instead.
Coffee grounds can be safe going down your drain in small amounts, but doing this every day can cause clogs from collective masses in the bottom of your drain. Think of how the coffee grounds collect and stick together inside the coffee filter. When a lot of grounds are pushed down the drain constantly in the presence of water, they stick together in the same way.
Avoid these chemicals in a garbage disposal
Certain chemicals are unsafe to use in your garbage disposal. Take special care to avoid using the following cleaning solutions in your kitchen sink.
Bleach is not a suitable cleaner for your garbage disposal. The strong chemicals can break down the hardware components inside your drain, making them less effective over time. These include the blades of your disposal and drain pipes.
Drain cleaners are harmful for your garbage disposal due to the harsh chemical ingredients. Avoid using Drano or similar products in your kitchen sink. Although these substances are effective in attacking hair clogs and product build-up, they can wear down the metal on your disposal’s blades and damage the surrounding pipes.
Ruben has a diverse background in the home services industry, with experience running a construction company, a kitchen and bath showroom, and a moving and relocation company. This breadth of experience has provided him with a wealth of knowledge and expertise in various areas of home improvement in general and specifically in the heating and plumbing niche.