What Can You Throw in the Garbage Disposal?

Posted May 31, 2023 by in Lifestyle
kitchen sink

A garbage disposal unit is a device installed beneath a kitchen sink between the drain and trap to remove household food waste. Food scraps pass through an electric-powered grinding chamber, where it is broken down into smaller pieces and washed away through the plumbing system.

Without a fully functional garbage disposal unit, you’ll experience a build-up of unwanted food waste, nasty odors, and potential plumbing problems. Should this happen, make sure you call a plumber in Mount Prospect, IL to fix your disposal unit!

How Do Garbage Disposals Work?

Sitting underneath a sink drain, a garbage disposal unit gathers food waste inside a compact grinding chamber.

Once powered, the chamber rotates at high speed, shredding the scraps against the chamber wall. Food waste is reduced to a fine material and pushed through the drain by a plate, eventually passing through the home plumbing systems for disposal.

A garbage disposal unit should last up to ten years. However, it might malfunction sooner if you throw the wrong food in it!

Things You Can Throw in a Garbage Disposal

Meats: Most cooked meat scraps, including beef, pork, and poultry, are suitable for a garbage disposal unit, although it’s important to avoid anything too large.

Bones: Yes, it’s safe to place small bones in garbage disposal units. Make sure the bones aren’t too large, otherwise, they could cause problems.  

Fruits: Disposals handle small pieces of fruit scraps, such as skins and rinds. Citrus rinds can even improve odors coming from the sink drain.

Vegetables: Like with fruit, most vegetable scraps are suitable for waste disposal units. Again, make sure the scraps aren’t whole or too chunky.

Ice: It’s safe to get rid of unwanted ice using your garage disposal unit. The ice can help flush any scraps sticking to plates.

Soup: Providing the soup doesn’t have large chunks of veg, it’s safe to throw down the garbage disposal.

Things You Can’t Throw in a Garbage Disposal

There are certain food scraps you never want to throw in a garbage disposal system, otherwise, they may cause it to malfunction. Avoid throwing these foods in your garbage disposal:

Grease: Grease causes major problems for garbage disposals as they congeal and clog the drain.

Pasta and Rice: Starchy foods like pasta and rice aren’t suitable for disposal. They absorb water and expand, leading to clogs and other issues.

Bread: Like pasta and rice, bread shouldn’t be thrown in.

Banana Peel: Banana peels should never go in a disposal unit. They’re prone to jamming the blades, leading to clogging and other malfunctions.

Corn Husks: Corn husks are fibrous, so often get stuck in the blades. Avoid throwing them in your sink or they may clog the system.

Fruit Seeds: Fruit seeds cause lots of problems when thrown in garbage disposal. Small seeds often bypass the disposal blades and damage pipework, which requires costly repairs.

Raw Meat: Avoid throwing raw meat in the disposal. It might get caught in the blade and stop it from shredding, while meats like chicken can spread bacteria.  

Coffee Grounds: While coffee grounds don’t damage the garbage disposal unit itself, they do accumulate in pipes, leading to clogs.

Signs Your Garbage Disposal Device Needs Repair

Poor Performance

Is the garbage disposal unit taking forever to break down waste? Then there may be issues with the blades or plates. Poor performance may be caused by general wear and tear, or by shredding unsuitable food waste.

Strange Noises

If there’s a strange noise coming from the disposal unit, then it could be jammed and need to be repaired. Sometimes it’s just a large piece of waste, although you might have accidentally dropped cutlery down the drain.

Backups and Clogs

Clogging is often the first sign there’s something wrong with the disposal unit. Chances are it’s caused by throwing the wrong food down, such as those listed above.

Backups may be caused by congealed foods, grease, or coffee grounds blocking your pipes.

Not Switching On

Is your garbage disposal unit not even turning on? It could be various problems, such as a malfunctioning motor or damaged electrics. The cause can be hard to identify yourself, so may require a professional to fix.

Nasty Smells

While unpleasant odors are common in disposals and are usually fixed by regularly rinsing with water, it could indicate problems within the disposal system. For example, food particles can get stuck inside the chamber and blades, leading to lingering smells and other issues.

A plumber might need to take the unit apart to fix the problem!

If you know what foods you can throw in your garbage disposal unit, it should last for many years without malfunctioning. Throw the wrong food down the drain and all sorts of problems can occur, such as rancid odors, clogging, and damaged pipework!

Make sure you take the time to learn what foods you should and shouldn’t be putting in your garbage disposal system!