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The Do’s and Don'ts of Your Disposal

Let’s face it, your garbage disposal is a saving grace in your household. You use it every day. But, are you using it correctly? If you are using your kitchen garbage disposal as a second trash can, I can assure you, you are not using it as it is intended. Yes, your kitchen disposal is for routine dinner cleanup, but there are restrictions on what you can actually put down your kitchen sink.

Believe it or not, food can cause a clog in your kitchen sink. Greasy, or fatty, foods have oil on them, which will stick to your kitchen piping. When oils cool in your pipes, they create obstructions that will continue to grow as additional food is pushed down the disposal. Food particles will latch onto the established mass, creating larger pipe clogs that water won’t be able to pass through.

When this happens, your drain will stop working, and your water waste will begin to collect in the basin of your sink. To prevent a clogged kitchen disposal, follow these tips on what you can, and what you absolutely cannot, put down your kitchen’s garbage disposal.

It is A-Okay to Put These Down Your Garbage Disposal:

  1. Citrus Rinds

  2. Scraps of Cooked Meat

  3. Fruit Scraps Without Peels

  4. Vegetable Scraps Without Peels

Do Not Put These Down Your Garbage Disposal:

Coffee Grounds

Just don’t do it. Think about it--after your morning brew, what happens to the coffee grounds in your filter? They clump together and become dense, and they will do the same in your pipes, once they contact water. A sever clog can form as a result.

Pasta, Grains, Other Starches

Water causes pasta, and other starches, to expand; hence, placing starch down your disposal is an easy way to clog your kitchen sink. Even uncooked starches can, and will, expand in your pipes until your wastewater has nowhere to go but back up.

Bones from Chicken, Fish, or Meat

This one, we think, is pretty self-explanatory--your disposal cannot grind large bones. If the occasional small poultry bone falls down your garbage disposal it should be okay, but large food bones should not, under any circumstance, make their way down your disposal. They will wither break your garbage disposal’s blades, or clog your kitchen sink.

Nuts

If you dump nuts down your disposal, stop. Nuts, when ground up and spun, turn into thick pastes. And, as your garbage disposal both grinds and spins, when you put nuts down your disposal you are creating a peanut-butter like substance that sticks to your pipes. Food scraps will get stuck to this substance until you have a serious clog. It’s best to throw unwanted nuts into your kitchen trash can.

Onion Skins

The outer most layer of an onion, the part people usually throw down their disposals, is a common drain clogging culprit. The membrane-like layer is so thin it misses your disposal blades, and then acts as a perfect net to catch and collect food within your pipes, of course blocking the flow of water.

Egg Shells

Beneath an egg’s shell, a thin membrane exists that will act as an automatic trap for food coming down your disposal. This parallels the same issue as onion skins, so keep your eggshells out of your disposal.

Fibrous Vegetables

Keep vegetables like corn and celery from going down your garbage disposal. The stringy strands that you peel off of celery and other fibrous vegetables can clump up in your disposal and, you guessed it, cause a serious pipe-blocking clog.

Potato Peels

When is the last time you peeled only one potato? Probably never. Most recipes call for multiple potatoes, and I’m sure, like most, you peel them into your sink and then attempt to shove the peels down the disposal. This is a great technique if your goal is to create a piping disaster. If you overload your disposal, it will jam, and you will need professional plumbing and drain assistance.

Fruit Pits

Follow this simple rule--if you can’t cut the pit in with a dull knife, it has no business going down your disposal. If you throw hard fruit pits into your kitchen disposal, it will cause permanent damage, and you will need an entirely new system.

Cleaning Chemicals

Industrial-grade drain cleaners will damage your disposal, causing extreme wear and tear. If you need to clean your kitchen disposal, use ice cubes and generic dish soap. This combination will reduce odors, clean your blades, and break up grease stuck in your system.

Paint

This is a big disposal “no-no”. Paint is a thick, sticky substance. Keep it out of your disposal. It can harden in your pipes and on your blades, preventing them from functioning properly.

Seafood Shells

Seafood shells from lobsters, crabs, and oysters are very dense, and will not be successfully ground by your garbage disposal. Smaller shells, such as shrimp tails, can also catch in your drain. It’s best to drop all seafood shells into your trash.

If your garbage disposal needs service, call Gold Medal Plumbing and Drain, at (416) 800-6264, for a thorough professional disposal diagnosis and repair. 

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