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6 Things You Should Never Put Down Your Garbage Disposal

A garbage disposal can make cleaning up after dinner a much easier task. It reduces what you need to throw into the trash and eliminates any odor that accumulates as a result. When using this appliance, though, you need to know what you can and can’t put down the drain to avoid the risk of damaging it. Here are the basics of what belongs in the trash instead of in your plumbing.

Items to Avoid Putting Down Your Disposal

1. Bones

While garbage disposals are designed for grinding up food waste, they do have a limit to what they can handle. Harder, more dense items like bones will not break in a disposal, and they will likely damage the blades as they rattle around. If they manage to make it down your drain, then they’ll inevitably get stuck in your pipes. While the occasional accidental chicken wing or fishbone won’t do too much damage, don’t expect to have success with a whole rack of ribs or the remnants of your Thanksgiving turkey.

2. Fibrous Vegetables 

With foods like celery, pumpkin, corn husks, and rhubarb, they’re comprised of these fibrous strings that don’t easily break. As a result, when you try to put them in your disposal, instead of shredding apart, they tangle together like a web. When this happens, one of two outcomes can occur: your disposal becomes jammed by this fibrous tangle, or remains of these foods go down your drain and create a blockage further down your pipes. Try to avoid putting these veggies in your plumbing as much as possible, though small, chopped up pieces, like the celery in a mirepoix, are fine to put in the disposal.

3. Cleaning Chemicals

When you have a clog in your drain, the DIY response is typically a powerful drain buster to clear things up. In reality, though, this method can be very harmful to your disposal and your pipes with frequent use. Industrial-grade cleaners, in general, should never go into your plumbing because they create excessive wear on the entire system. If you think your disposal needs a good cleaning, shred ice cubes in the blades, and throw a little dish soap down the drain to deodorize and break up grease deposits.

4. Coffee Grounds

Urban legend likes to credit ground coffee as a natural deodorizer for your sink. While there is truth to that tale—as it’s an excellent way to rid of smells in places like your refrigerator—it will do more harm than good down your drain. When coffee grounds get wet, they form a thick paste that builds up as more soaked coffee accumulates. Over time, it will interfere with the blades and create blockages down your drain. If your garbage disposal starts to smell, use water and dish soap to deodorize.

5. Egg ShellsSlab Leak Minneapolis, MN

Another misconception involving your garbage disposal is that eggshells keep the blades sharp when you grind them up. Unfortunately, if the shell still has that thin membrane attached inside, it can get loose and jam the propeller of your disposal. So, while the shells themselves aren’t harmful, it’s easier to throw them out rather than peeling that membrane off the inside before putting them down your drain.

6. Pasta

When you cook pasta, it expands when exposed to water. While you won’t get perfectly al dente spaghetti without a pot of boiling water, once these foods are cooked, exposure to any water will only make them continue to expand. As a result, pasta and other similar food items like oatmeal and rice should never go down your drain. In your drain, they’ll fill up the disposal trap, and if they manage to make it to your pipes, they’ll swell till your plumbing is on the verge of bursting. If the occasional noodle goes down the drain, you’ll be fine, but try your best to dispose of your lasagna in the trash as much as possible.


With the mounds of coffee grounds it requires to make the great Paul Bunyan a cup of coffee, he always ensures they end up in the trash instead of down the drain. If you accidentally clog your disposal with any of these items, have our team at Paul Bunyan Plumbing & Drains take care of it. For more information about our Twin Cities, MN, based plumbing services and to schedule an appointment, give us a call today at (612) 340-1444.

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