10 Things to Never Put Down Your Garbage Disposal

A Hispanic man in a dark blue shirt and pliers in his right hand lying next to a black garbage disposal under a sink.

10 things to never put down your garbage disposal

A garbage disposal can make cleaning up much easier. But despite the power and efficiency of a garbage disposal, many homeowners misuse it. Usually, homeowners put things they shouldn’t put down the garbage disposal down there. That can cause expensive and inconvenient problems down the line. If you have a garbage disposal, here are 10 common items you should never put down there and why.

1, Butters, oils, and greases

Most homeowners know not to put grease down the disposal. But did you know that this applies to other fatty and oily waste? If grease, oil, or fat congeals past your disposal and in your piping, it can clog your pipes. This can lead to extensive and expensive water damage. And since congealed fats in piping are a sign of poor maintenance, not even a home warranty from 2-10 Home Buyers Warranty (2-10 HBW) would be able to help you offset the costs.

A good rule of thumb is to avoid dumping anything that will congeal down your disposal.

2. Coffee grounds

If you ever heard that coffee grounds are harmless and just make your sink smell better, think again! While coffee grounds can make your sink smell better, it’s not worth the other problems they cause. Wet coffee grounds are thick and sticky. They’re also fine enough to get past your disposal. As coffee grounds collect, they can easily turn into clogs, especially if you run water while using your disposal.

Instead of throwing coffee grounds in the disposal, consider using them to compost or to provide extra nutrients for your garden. When in doubt, throw coffee grounds in your garbage bin, not down your garbage disposal.

3. Egg shells

You may have heard a myth that egg shells sharpen disposal blades. That’s not true. First, garbage disposals don’t use actual blades like blenders do. They use something called impellers, which are dull, to essentially push food against a grind ring. This is what turns waste into a liquid. Second, since disposals don’t use blades, there’s nothing for egg shells to sharpen. However, there’s a thin membrane on the inside of egg shells that can come loose and wrap around the impeller. This can cause your disposal to overwork and eventually blow the motor.

Like coffee grounds, either throw them in a garbage bin or use them in your garden.

4. Stringy foods (celery and onion skins)

Stringy foods—like celery, onion skins, banana peels, and corn husks—can ruin your garbage disposal. While a small section of a corn husk may not do harm, constantly throwing stringy food down increases the chances of something wrapping around the impeller. This can damage the motor and force you to replace your disposal.

5. Starchy foods (pasta, rice, and potatoes)

Think about how difficult it is to get dried rice or mashed potatoes out of a pot. Potatoes, rice, and pasta can turn into a paste in your disposal, which can cause tough clogs. You’re better off throwing them in a trash bin to save yourself future headaches.

6. Bones and shells

Unlike the previous problems, bones and shells can cause serious physical damage to your disposal. A small fish bone here and there is likely OK, but trying to put chicken bones, larger bones, or large shells can break your disposal on the spot.

7. Fruit pits and seeds

Like bones and shells, the hardness of fruit pits and seeds make them more trouble than they’re worth in the garbage disposal. Additionally, because most pits and seeds are fairly small, the grinder often can’t get a grip on them. Putting pits and seeds in your disposal just makes a racket without solving any problems.

8. Nuts and oatmeal

Anything that can get gummy as it mixes with water is a poor candidate for a garbage disposal. If you put too many peanuts or cashews, or too much oatmeal, down your disposal, you’re more likely to create a paste that can cause clogs. And of course, nut shells, like walnuts, can do more immediate damage.

9. Garbage (how ironic!)

Ironically, it’s a bad idea to put everyday garbage in your garbage disposal. Wet paper towels, wipes, Kleenex, and plastic can cause real problems with clogging.

10. Paint

You should never pour oil or latex (water-based) paints in your garbage disposal. On top of the risk of splattering out of the disposal, paint can congeal and cause deep piping problems for you, which can lead to extensive water damage.

These tips can help your maintain your garbage disposal well. They can also help you get the most out of your home warranty from 2-10 HBW.

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