15 Things Never to Put Down Your Garbage Disposal

Think twice before sending anything down your garbage disposal.

Better Safe Than Sorry

what not to put in 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 15 items are better off in the trash or your compost pile.


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: How To: Dispose of Cooking Oil


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Pasta, Rice, and Oats

Pasta In Garbage Disposal

Delicious on your plate, but a problem in your plumbing, pasta, rice, and oats 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



Bones In Garbage Disposal

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

Related: 7 Kitchen Sink Sins to Avoid


Seafood Shells

seafood shells in garbage disposal

Like bones, seafood shells shouldn’t be ditched down the disposal. Whether it’s clams, oysters, mussels, or lobsters, these hard casings can damage the blades or cause a clog.


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


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


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



Eggshells in Garbage Disposal

There’s some dispute about whether or not eggshells 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


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


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



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


Fruit Pits

fruit pits in garbage disposal

When you’re snacking on fruit and are left with just the pit put it in your compost or garbage. While garbage disposals can tolerate a lot, this hard center seed will likely dent or break the blades.


Coffee Grounds

coffee grounds in garbage disposal

Coffee grounds seem fairly innocuous when faced with the garbage disposal, but it’s actually one of the worst things you could put down the drain. Eventually the grounds build up and form a sludge (think of the dregs at the bottom of your coffee pot), which creates a clog. Instead of tossing the grounds into the trash use them in your compost or garden.

Related: 11 Uses for Coffee Grounds



Sauerkraut in garbage disposal

Be careful when you’re scraping dishes after a BBQ! Sauerkraut is a delicious condiment, but it’s not pleasing when clogging the garbage disposal. Similarly to potato skins, sauerkraut will form a goo in the drain.



Nuts inn garbage disposal

They might be small, but nuts spell disaster when sent down the drain. After all, the garbage disposal mimics a similar process for making nut butter: grinding and mashing until a paste is formed!


Some jobs are better left to the pros
Get free, no-commitment estimates from licensed plumbers near you.

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