15 Items You Should Never Put in the Garbage Disposal

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Your garbage disposal may seem like a magic tool that can handle almost anything, but not all items suit its blades. Many everyday household items can wreak havoc on your disposal system. Maintaining your garbage disposal properly involves knowing what not to put down your drain. Here are some of the items you should keep off of your garbage disposal.

Grease and Cooking Oils

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Pouring grease or cooking oils down your garbage disposal might seem convenient, but it can lead to serious clogs. As these substances cool, they solidify and coat your disposal’s blades and pipes, causing blockages that are tough to clear.

Eggshells

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Despite popular belief, eggshells can contribute to garbage disposal clogs. The membrane lining the eggshell can wrap around the disposal’s blades, and the shell itself can break into small, gritty pieces that don’t easily flush through your plumbing.

Coffee Grounds

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Coffee grounds might seem harmless to pipes and blades, but they can create a sludgy mess in your garbage disposal and pipes. Over time, they can accumulate and form blockages. It’s better to dispose of coffee grounds in the trash or compost them instead.

Bones

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Large bones should never be put in a garbage disposal. They’re too hard and can damage the blades or jam the disposal entirely. Additionally, the motor may work harder to grind up hard bones, which can cause it to burn out.

Fruit Pits and Seeds

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Items like peach pits, avocado pits, and seeds from fruits like cherries or apples are too hard for garbage disposals. They can dull the blades or get lodged in the disposal’s mechanisms, leading to costly repairs.

Stringy or Fibrous Vegetables

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Vegetables like celery and asparagus have long, fibrous strands that can wrap around the disposal’s blades. This can jam the disposal and damage the motor over time, requiring professional repair.

Potato Peels

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Potato peels contain starch, which can become a thick paste when ground up in a garbage disposal. The paste can cling to the disposal’s blades and pipes, causing blockages. Once your garbage disposal is clogged, it will be difficult for other foods to move through the system.

Pasta and Rice

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Starch, like spaghetti and rice, expands when exposed to water, which can happen inside your garbage disposal. This expansion can cause clogs in your pipes as the sticky, starchy mixture clings to the disposal’s surfaces.

Fatty Items

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Similar to grease and cooking oils, fats like butter can solidify and cause blockages in your garbage disposal and pipes. It’s best to wipe excess fats and oils from dishes with a paper towel before washing rather than rinsing them down the drain.

Non-Food Items

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Items like rubber bands, bottle caps, or plastic utensils should never go into a garbage disposal. It’s a safety hazard as shards can shoot back up the drain. Moreover, these items can damage the disposal’s blades or get stuck in the mechanism, causing it to malfunction and potentially requiring costly repairs. 

Chemicals and Harsh Cleaners

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Pouring bleach or chemicals down your garbage disposal can damage its components and harm the environment when they enter the water supply. Instead, use gentle cleaning agents recommended by the manufacturer.

Paint

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Paint is a thick substance and challenging to clean, so pouring it down your garbage disposal can coat the drain and pipes with paint. Over time, these layers can build up and create stubborn blockages in the plumbing system. 

Medication

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While medication may not directly cause clogs in your pipes, spilling it down the drain can contaminate your local watershed, posing risks to aquatic life. You must use proper disposal channels, such as pharmacy take-back programs, to ensure safe and environmentally friendly medication disposal.

Drain Cleaners

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You may think drain cleaners will help unclog your garbage disposal, but they can corrode the system’s metal components, leading to leaks or malfunctions. It is better to use natural cleaning solutions or manufacturer-recommended methods to keep your disposal clean.

Shellfish Shells

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Hard shells from seafood like crab, lobster, shrimp, and oysters pose a frequent problem for garbage disposals. These shells are often too dense to grind correctly, and even smaller ones, like shrimp, can get caught in the drain. 

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