10 Things Never to Put Down Your Garbage Disposal

It might seem like it can handle anything, but actually, feeding your garbage disposal the wrong items is a surefire recipe for bad smells, clogs, and ultimately, a broken appliance. While it’s fine to send most soft foods, ice cubes, chopped foods, and fruit peels through the garbage disposal, the following 10 items are better off in the trash or your compost pile.

  1. Fat, Grease, and Oil

    Grease Down Garbage Disposal

    While your garbage disposal can handle liquid or semi-solid fat, grease, and oil, the rest of your home’s plumbing system cannot. Instead, throw the greasy stuff out with the trash; seal liquid oil and grease in a can or jar first.

    Related: 10 Unusual Tips for Your Cleanest Kitchen Ever


  2. Pasta and Rice

    Rice In Garbage Disposal

    Delicious on your plate, but a problem in your plumbing, both pasta and rice continue to swell with water, even after cooking. Toss them in the trash unless you’re willing to risk a clog.

    Related: 12 Things to Do with Rice—Besides Eat It


  3. Bones, Fruit Pits, and Seafood Shells

    Bones In Garbage Disposal

    Even though very small bones will probably pass through without a problem, it’s safest to keep all bones, fruit pits, and seafood shells out of your garbage disposal. These hard items can break your disposal or clog up your plumbing.

    Related: 7 Kitchen Sink Sins to Avoid


  4. Medication

    Medication In Garbage Disposal

    Tossing your unused medications down the garbage disposal might seem like a smart way to dispose of controlled substances, but putting drugs into the plumbing system can eventually impact the water supply. Instead, the FDA recommends removing the drugs from their packaging, putting them in a plastic bag with something unappealing like dirt or cat litter, then disposing of the bag in the trash.

    Related: 9 Home Repair Remedies to Borrow from Your Medicine Cabinet


  5. Fibrous Vegetables

    Fibrous Vegetables In Garbage Disposal

    While most vegetables can safely pass through the garbage disposal, fibrous veggies, including artichoke, celery, rhubarb, lettuce, kale, cornhusks, onion skins, asparagus, and chard tend to tangle around the disposal’s blades. Add these to your compost heap instead, or toss them in the trash.

    Related: 12 Smart Dish Washing Hacks No One Ever Taught You


  6. Potato Peels

    Potato Peels In Garbage Disposal

    It’s convenient to peel spuds over the kitchen sink, but don’t send those peels down the drain. Potato peels turn into a gluey mass inside your plumbing pipes, and pose a major clog risk.

    Related: 7 Tips for Quick and Easy Cleanup After Dinner


  7. Broken Glass or Metal

    Glass In Garbage Disposal

    If metal or glass fall into your garbage disposal, don’t turn it on. Instead, switch off the disposal at the unit under the sink, then try to fish out the offending item with a fork, grabber, or hook. If that's not possible, put on gloves to protect your hands and carefully retrieve the item. Always make sure the garbage disposal is completely turned off before attempting to retrieve an item from the sink.

    Related: The 10 Biggest Myths About Recycling


  8. Coffee Grounds and Eggshells

    Eggshells in Garbage Disposal

    There’s some dispute about whether or not eggshells and coffee grounds are safe for the garbage disposal, but why take a chance? Instead, add them to your compost pile, mix them around your outdoor potted plants to add nutrients, or dispose of them in the trash.

    Related: 7 Times to Throw Garbage in Your Garden


  9. Chicken Skin

    Chicken Skin In Garbage Disposal

    Go ahead and reduce your fat intake by removing chicken skin before cooking, but don’t toss that skin down your garbage disposal. It can easily clog your plumbing, and brings unnecessary germs and stink to your sink.

    Related: 9 Little Tricks to Make Trash Day Less of a Chore


  10. Produce Stickers

    Fruit Labels In Garbage Disposal

    It’s fine to put citrus, apple, or banana peels into the garbage disposal, but be sure to remove any produce stickers before you do. Stickers are likely to stick to the disposal blades or the inside of your pipes.

    Related: 11 Home Hacks You Can Do with a Bag of Groceries


  11. Plumbing Problems

    Plumbing Problems

    Don’t be so casual about disposing things down the drain. It might seem like it was rinsed or flushed away, but certain materials can cause serious havoc on your plumbing.


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