Many people treat their garbage disposal more like a trash can, and they throw all kinds of things in there that don’t belong. A garbage disposal is designed to deal with light kitchen waste, they are effective, but certain materials can cause a clog in the unit. In this article, we will look at some items that we’ve found clogging up the disposal units of our customers. We will also look at some handy freshening tips and offer advice on what you can safely throw down your garbage disposal.
Safe for Garbage Disposal
A modern garbage disposal is a great asset in your kitchen, and it can handle a wide variety of materials. Here is a short general list of things that are safe to put in the disposal unit.
- Smaller bones.
- Cooked grains and beans.
- Seafood scraps.
- Cooked meat.
- Fruit scraps.
- Vegetable scraps.
Unsafe for Garbage Disposal
The following items shouldn’t be thrown in the garbage disposal, and they need to go in the trash instead.
- Coffee grounds.
- Lemon or citrus peel.
- Banana peel.
- Larger bones.
- Popcorn kernels.
- Egg shells.
- Stringy or starchy vegetables.
- Fruit pits and seeds.
- Oil, fat or grease.
Freshening the Garbage Disposal Unit
Over time, the garbage disposal can get dirty, and it may start to smell bad. This is usually caused by bacteria inside the unit that will need to be cleaned away. Some people, attempt to “freshen up” their disposal unit by putting coffee grounds or lemon peel down their disposal unit. As you can see on the above list of materials that you shouldn’t put down your unit; coffee grounds and lemon peel are at the top. Both of these materials have a strong and pleasant odor, but they can cause clogs and damage your disposal unit. Coffee grounds may seem to drain away quickly, but they easily become stuck in the trap of the disposal unit. Lemon peel if fibrous, it’s hard to break down, and the citric acid can corrode the metal parts in your disposal.
Cleaning the Garbage Disposal Unit
The best way to freshen your disposal is to treat the underlying cause and give it a good clean. Adding a mild soap to some warm water and running it through the disposal is a great way to clean and freshen the unit. Using an antibacterial soap is a great way to disinfect the unit and get rid of the nasty smelling bacteria. If you have a clog, it can be removed manually in some cases, but make sure the power is turned off before you begin. If you have a clog that’s hard to remove, contact your local certified plumber for expert help.
If in Doubt Leave it Out
If you’re ever in any doubt about throwing something down your garbage disposal, it’s a better idea to put it in the trash instead. Coffee ground, vegetable peelings, and many other items can be composted if you have the space. If you do have any larger pieces of material break them apart first to minimize wear and tear on your disposal.
By Giovanni Longo President Flood Brothers Plumbing
Giovanni Longo is a 3rd generation master plumber who has been practicing his craft and trade in the greater Los Angeles area for well over a decade and a half. A plumbing and hydraulics-engineering innovator, Giovanni’s particular world-class expertise focuses on dealing with challenging sewer system designs as well as resolving complex commercial and residential draining issues. As a certified Flood Mitigation expert, he is also well versed in a wide variety of water damage and remediation solution.