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A garbage disposal is an extremely convenient appliance to have in the kitchen, and as such they have become standard in most new homes.  Unfortunately, many people do not know what can and cannot go into the disposal.  Putting the wrong items down a garbage disposal can cause problems with the unit as well as with the plumbing.

To help homeowners better understand, here are ten things that should never be put into the garbage disposal:

  1. Eggs:  There are myths that claim egg shells will help keep the disposal blades sharp.  This is simply not true.  The membrane inside the egg can get caught on the blades, thus clogging up the blades and the garbage disposal.
  2. Coffee Grounds:  Although they may appear to pass through the disposal and into the drain, coffee grounds often get caught in the trap of your garbage disposal.  Over time, the grounds will build up and can cause serious problems.
  3. Bones:  Bones will quickly damage and ruin blades.  Even small bones should never be put into the unit.
  4. Grease and Oil:  When grease or oil cools down, it will begin to harden.  The hardened substances will then build-up in the disposal and in the plumbing.  This can cause your drainage system to function improperly and may require a plumber to find a solution.
  5. Pasta and Rice:  Both pasta and rice can easily be broken down by the garbage disposal.  A problem arises because these items will swell in size while in water.  This swelling can cause your drain to clog.
  6. Stringy Vegetables:  Starchy or stringy vegetables should never be put down the drain.  The fibers of the vegetables will take some time to be properly chopped up by the disposal.  The fibers can also get caught in the blades relatively easily, causing the blades to clog.
  7. Pits and Seeds:  A garbage disposal can break down food, but hard pits and seeds can cause serious damage to the blades.  In addition, because these items do not break down easily they can cause blockage.
  8. Plants:  Like vegetables, most plants are fairly fibrous and therefore should not be put down the garbage disposal.
  9. Non-Food Items:  Disposal units are meant to break up food.  Putting non-food items in the unit can cause harm to the disposal.  Furthermore, by putting non-food items in the garbage disposal the waste water becomes polluted with substances not meant for waste water
  10. Excessive Amounts of Food:  A garbage disposal works best with small amounts of food.  If it sounds like the disposal is struggling, less food should be put in at one time.

In addition to avoiding these items, it is also important to always run cold water down the drain when the disposal is turned on.  Occasionally running ice through the unit will help keep the blades clean as well.  By following these steps, your garbage disposal should last for many years to come.

Peter Wendt resides in Austin, Texas with his family. He enjoys writing on topics related to plumbing & proper disposal.  He recommends you click here to learn more about this subject.