Better Safe Than Sorry
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
Pasta, Rice, and Oats
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.
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.
Broken Glass or Metal
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
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.
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.
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 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
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.
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!
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