Kitchen FAQ: What Shouldn’t Go in the Garbage Disposal?

what shouldn't go in the garbage disposal

Understanding what shouldn’t go in the garbage disposal is crucial for any homeowner looking to maintain their kitchen’s efficiency and prevent unnecessary repairs. This guide delves into the various foods and substances that can harm your garbage disposal, offering insights into their potential impacts and how to effectively manage them.

Learn What Shouldn’t Go in the Garbage Disposal to Prevent Damage

While garbage disposals are convenient, they are not designed to handle everything. Knowing what can damage garbage disposal helps in preventing costly repairs and maintaining a smoothly running kitchen.

what cannot go down a garbage disposal

Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds might seem innocuous, but they are deceivingly problematic for garbage disposals. When disposed of down the sink, they can accumulate over time, creating a thick, sludgy sediment that clogs pipes and hampers the disposal’s functionality.

Preventing Clogs: The best practice is to dispose of coffee grounds in the compost or trash. For those who garden, coffee grounds can be a great addition to the soil.

Addressing Clogs: If you’ve already disposed of grounds, flush the disposal with a generous amount of hot water and dish soap to help break down and disperse the buildup.


The debate about whether should eggshells go in the garbage disposal ends with a no. The main issue with eggshells is not the shell itself but the membrane lining, which can stick to the sides of the disposal and wrap around the shredder ring.

Preventing Damage: To avoid this, it’s better to compost eggshells or dispose of them in the trash.

Clearing Eggshell Clogs: If eggshells are causing a jam, turn off the disposal and carefully remove the blockage using tongs or pliers. Running cold water while grinding ice can help clean the blades and remove lingering fragments.

Grease, Fats, and Oils

One of the most common kitchen mistakes is disposing of grease, fats, and oils down the sink. As they cool, they solidify, creating stubborn blockages in your plumbing and damaging the disposal’s internal mechanism.

Proactive Measures: Always dispose of grease and oil in a container and throw it in the trash. Never pour them down any drain.

Cleaning After Accidental Disposal: If grease accidentally enters your disposal, immediately run hot water with a strong dish detergent to help dissolve and flush it through the system.

Pasta and Rice

Pasta and rice can be particularly troublesome for garbage disposals because they continue to expand with water. This can lead to a gradual buildup that isn’t immediately noticeable but can eventually lead to significant blockages.

Prevention Strategy: Avoid putting pasta and rice down the disposal. Scrape these items into the trash or compost bin.

Dealing with Blockages: If a blockage occurs, try using a plunger to dislodge the clog. In persistent cases, a mixture of vinegar and hot water can help break down the blockage.

Potato Peels

Potato peels are notorious for causing issues in garbage disposals. Their starchy nature can create a thick paste that jams the disposal blades and clogs the drain.

Best Practices: It’s advisable to dispose of potato peels in the compost or trash can. If using the disposal, do so sparingly and with plenty of running water.

Unclogging Tips: Should a clog occur, use a plunger or a plumber’s snake to clear the pipes. Avoid using chemical drain cleaners as they can damage the disposal.

Fibrous Vegetables

Fibrous vegetables, like celery or corn husks, have long fibers that can tangle around the disposal blades and motor, leading to jams and motor burnout.

Disposal Care: Cut these vegetables into small pieces if you need to dispose of them down the sink. Better yet, compost them or use them in a stock before disposing.

Resolving Jams: If your disposal gets jammed, turn it off and use tongs to gently remove the fibrous material. Running cold water while the disposal is on can help clear out any remaining fibers.


Bones are another perfect example of what shouldn’t go in the garbage disposal. They are simply too hard for most garbage disposals to handle. They can blunt the blades, cause jams, and even lead to motor burnout.

Alternative Disposal: Bones should be disposed of in the trash. If you have pets, consider saving larger bones for dog treats.

Handling Accidents: If bones accidentally enter your disposal, turn off the power and carefully remove them. Running the disposal with bones inside can cause irreparable damage.

Fruit Pits and Seeds

Fruit pits and seeds share the same problem as bones; they’re too hard for garbage disposals to break down. This can lead to damaged blades and an overworked motor.

Safe Disposal: Always throw fruit pits and seeds in the trash or compost them.

If Pits Get Stuck: In case a pit gets into your disposal, switch off the power and manually remove it. Avoid using the disposal to grind these hard items.

Non-Food Items

Non-food items like plastic, paper, and metal can cause significant damage to your garbage disposal. They can jam the blades, block the drain, and even damage the motor.

Proper Disposal: Always be mindful of what goes into your disposal. Non-food items should be recycled or thrown in the trash.

Clearing Non-Food Items: If a non-food item falls into your disposal, turn off the power and carefully remove it with tongs or pliers.

Expandable Foods

Expandable foods like bread or hamburger buns can absorb water and swell, leading to clogs in your plumbing and issues with your disposal.

Avoiding Disposal: It’s best to throw expandable foods in the trash or compost them.

Addressing Clogs: Should these items cause a clog, use a plunger to try and dislodge them. Running the disposal with cold water can also help break down smaller pieces.

For more specialized assistance, Apex Appliance Service is your go-to expert for professional kitchen appliance service and repair. They understand the nuances of kitchen maintenance and can help keep your garbage disposal in top condition.

Want more disposal tips? Check out our step-by-step guide on the best way to clean a dirty disposal!

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