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What Not to Put in a Garbage Disposal

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What Not to Put in a Garbage Disposal

Garbage disposal units are far from a novelty. To most North-American homes, they’re an essential part of the kitchen infrastructure. Moreover, garbage disposal, regardless of the type, is an eco-friendly way of getting rid of all the food-related garbage.

What Not To Put In A Garbage Disposal

Even the best garbage disposal units can break. There are two types, continuous feed and batch feed. And they differ in power and quality. [1] But when it comes to what shouldn’t be put in the garbage disposal, it’s essential to know what to avoid.


Even if you have an incredibly powerful garbage disposal unit, it might not be enough to grind up animal bones. Garbage disposal isn’t made to deal with that type of hard material. The bones will most likely spin around and around or, even worse, get stuck. But that doesn’t mean you should panic if you drop a piece of chicken bone inside your unit. An isolated incident would most likely be just fine.

Clogs can occur in the disposal itself, but usually, they appear in the drainpipe downstream of the disposal. The best way to prevent clogs is to keep problem scraps out of the disposal and put them in the trash instead.

Bob Formisano from The Spruce

Coffee Grounds

The thing about coffee grounds isn’t that they’re hard or that average garbage disposal unit can’t handle them. But there is a severe risk of clogging the drain. According to many plumbers, coffee grounds are serious culprits in this department. Coffee grounds shouldn’t go into the garbage disposal, but they can be an interesting addition to a composting project.

Grease & Oil

There aren’t many home-cooked meals that don’t involve grease or oil of some kind. But what does this mean for your garbage disposal? Of course, some oil and grease will go down the drain, but it’s crucial not to pour excessive amounts of grease into the garbage disposal. Otherwise, it may lead to a serious clogging issue that will require the help of a professional. [2]


Pasta is one of the most popular dishes in the world, and it doesn’t sound like it would be problematic to throw some leftovers into the garbage disposal. But remember how pasta expands when cooked and how sticky it can get? This can cause some serious issues with your garbage disposal unit due to swelling. Therefore, pasta is another one of those dishes that are best thrown directly into the trash.

Pasta, bread, and even rice are better off in the garbage can than down the garbage disposal. It doesn’t matter how tiny or how chopped they are; it’s not worth the risk.


Pasta is popular, but not as popular as eggs. On the face of it, eggshells seem brittle and safe. But are they? The thing is, you could probably put eggshells in the garbage disposal, but you’re better off not doing so. Here’s why. Eggshells will attach themselves to garbage disposal friendly foods and can end up not ground at all. For that reason, they might accumulate in the drain.

Potato Peels

Potato peels present a similar problem. They’re just too thin and can easily slip down the drain and stick to other foods. Still, if a few potato peels go down the garbage disposal, they’re unlikely to cause any real harm.

potato peels are one of the things you should not to put in a garbage disposal unit

Fruit Pits

In case you’re having a fruit snack in the kitchen, you might feel inclined to throw the fruit pit down the garbage disposal. Makes sense, right? Well, not exactly. Pits from avocadoes, peaches, apricots, and others are often really dense and hard. And they could end up damaging the garbage disposal motor over time. Throwing in a few every now and then isn’t going to hurt, but it’s best not to make a habit out of it.


This doesn’t include dish soap or regular kitchen cleaners, of course. But more toxic chemicals that are industrial grade are a bad idea. This includes medicine. Sometimes throwing old medicine down the garbage disposal seems like a good idea, but in reality, it can be very detrimental to your water source.

The same goes for paint. Both oil-based and water-based paint can end up sitting in your pipes and perhaps even lead to clogging. Not to mention that it could prevent other food from passing through the pipes.

Harsh chemicals might seem like the answer for quick and efficient cleaning of your garbage disposal, but they will do more harm than good. Some ice cubes and dish soap will work great.

Other Garbage

This rule might seem like an obvious one, but it’s worth repeating. Just because garbage disposal has the word “garbage” in it doesn’t mean that anything that is considered garbage is suitable. Things like plastic, banana peels, don’t go into a garbage disposal unit.

Bulky Items

Finally, even if it’s garbage disposal approved food, if you try to get rid of it in bulk, there might be some issues. When handling garbage disposal, there’s no need to rush. Let your garbage disposal unit grind the leftover food slowly without any additional stress. A handful at a time is a good measure.

Taking Care of Your Garbage Disposal

If you follow the guidelines about what not to put in the garbage disposal (or basically how to use it properly), you’ll ensure that it lasts longer, which means you won’t have to get another unit and spend money on installation any time soon. Regardless of the price and quality, if a garbage disposal unit has to handle large amounts of bones, grease, and other garbage, it’s likely to break down or clog your drain. Ultimately, garbage disposal is a powerful tool, but it still has some limitations. [3]


  1. Formisano, B. (2019, October 20). Everything You Need to Know About Garbage Disposals. Retrieved from
  2. Vandervort, D. (2020, March 31). How to Fix a Garbage Disposal. Retrieved from
  3. Formisano, B. (2020, January 2). Troubleshooting Garbage Disposal Problems. Retrieved from
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