Foods You Should Never Put Down Your Garbage Disposal

October 9, 2023

The garbage disposal is a convenient kitchen appliance that helps manage food waste efficiently. However, it's important to know which items are suitable for disposal and which should be avoided to prevent damage, clogs, and plumbing issues. By taking these proper precautions, you can maintain a smoothly functioning disposal unit and ensure the longevity of your plumbing system.

First, how does a garbage disposal work?

A garbage disposal, also known as a food waste disposer, is an electrically powered device installed beneath the kitchen sink. Its primary function is to grind and shred food waste into smaller pieces, allowing it to pass through the plumbing system more easily. The disposal unit consists of a motor, a grinding chamber, and a spinning disk or impeller with sharp blades. When the garbage disposal is turned on, the motor activates and spins the impeller at high speed. As food waste is fed into the disposal through the sink's drain, the impeller's blades shred the waste into tiny particles. These particles are then flushed down the drain with water, making their way into the sewage system or septic tank.

What Foods Are Safe to Put Down Your Garbage Disposal

There are many foods that are generally considered safe to put down a disposal. These include:

Soft fruits and vegetables

Soft fruits like berries, melons, and citrus fruits can be disposed of. Vegetables like lettuce, cucumber, and zucchini are also safe.

Small amounts of starchy foods

Small amounts of cooked rice, pasta, and other grains can be disposed of, but avoid large quantities that could cause clogs.

Non-fibrous leftovers

Leftover cooked meat, poultry, fish, and small amounts of cooked vegetables are generally safe to put down the disposal.


Crushed eggshells can help clean the disposal and the pipes, but avoid putting too many at once.

What Should NOT Go Down the Garbage Disposal?

There are several types of foods that should never be put down a garbage disposal to avoid potential damage or clogs. These include:

Grease, fats, and oils 

Putting grease, fat, or oil down the garbage disposal can have detrimental effects on both the disposal unit and the plumbing system. Initially, these substances may appear in liquid form, but as they cool and solidify, they can adhere to the interior surfaces of the disposal and pipes. Over time, the accumulation of grease, fat, or oil can cause clogs, restricting the flow of water and food waste. This can lead to backups, slow drainage, or even complete blockages in the plumbing system. Additionally, the solidified grease can damage the garbage disposal's blades, motor, or impeller, reducing its efficiency or causing it to malfunction. It is crucial to dispose of grease, fat, and oil properly by allowing them to cool and solidify, and then placing them in a sealed container for disposal in the regular trash or recycling, or consider recycling options if available in your area.


Putting bones down the garbage disposal can lead to various issues and potential damage. Bones are hard and can be too tough for the disposal's blades to handle. When bones are ground up, they can damage or dull the blades, impairing the disposal's effectiveness. The motor of the disposal may also strain or overheat when attempting to process bones, potentially leading to malfunctions or motor burnout. Additionally, bone fragments can get lodged in the disposal's grinding chamber or the pipes, causing clogs and impeding proper drainage. It's best to dispose of bones in the regular trash or consider alternative methods such as composting or using them for making broth.

Fibrous vegetables

Fibrous vegetables, such as celery, corn husks, onion skins, and artichokes, have long, stringy fibers that can wrap around the disposal's blades or impeller. As a result, these fibers can become tangled and create blockages in the disposal or the plumbing system. The disposal may struggle to grind up fibrous materials effectively, leading to slow drainage or backups. It's best to dispose of fibrous vegetables in the regular trash or consider composting them if possible.

Large amounts of starchy food

Large amounts of starchy foods should not be put down the garbage disposal due to the potential for clogs and pipe blockages. Starchy foods like potatoes, potato peels, rice, and pasta can expand with water. When these foods are broken down in the disposal and mixed with water, they can form a sticky, paste-like substance that can cling to the inside of pipes and accumulate over time.

Fruit pits and large seeds

Fruit pits, such as those from peaches, avocados, cherries, or plums, are hard and can be too tough for the disposal's blades to handle. Attempting to grind up these pits can damage or break the blades, impeller, or motor of the disposal. Additionally, large seeds from fruits like apples or oranges can also cause similar problems. Moreover, fruit pits and large seeds can get lodged in the disposal or the plumbing pipes, leading to clogs and hindering proper drainage.

If you’ve got specific questions about your garbage disposal, or if your garbage disposal is causing you problems, our team at Donovan Waterworks is here to guide you. Give us a call at 410-240-5299.

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