Garbage Disposals

April 29, 2020

What can you put in the Garbage Disposal?

What can you safely put in your garbage disposal? It really depends. There are many myths about fruit pits and stringy foods damaging disposals, the truth is modern models can handle just about any food item.

A few factors to note: A good high horsepower disposal can handle a lot more than a lower power model. 1/2 HP is common for a home, and that should handle most food debris. 3/4 and 1 HP models will be faster, quiter, and more effective if you want to dispose of tougher object like banana peels, small bones, fruit pits, etc.

Many recommendations on what can be disposed of has more to do with your plumbing than the disposal itself. Over time certain substances can build up in your pipes and cause clogs. Here are some best practices to keep you pipes clean and to help prolong the lifespan of your appliance. Of course check your owner’s manual to determine what is safe in your garbage disposal.

Garbage Disposal and Plumbing

Avocado Pits

Yes, avocado pits and most other fruit pits can be put in garbage disposals. Note, large hard pits are often quicker to dispose of in the trash can.


Banana Peels

Yes, but generally not recommended for lower horsepower units. Bananas can clog your pipes if they aren’t broken down enough while passing through the disposal.


Bones

Yes and no. A good garbage disposal will pulverise small bones, but they are not good for your plumbing in general. Never attempt to put large/whole bones in your garbage disposal as they can damage the unit. If you opt to grind up small bones in the disposal, do so sparingly and in small volumes.

Most bones and fibrous foods require considerable grinding time and are often more easily thrown in the trash.


Celery

Yes. Unless you have a particular garbage disposal model that suggests against this, most modern disposals will have no issues with celery or other stringy foods. Celery, like many large foods should be put in the disposal small amounts at a time. A whole stalk of celery could be problematic, but smaller piece gradually inserted should be fine.


Cherry Pits

Yes. Most garbage disposal manufacturers do not advise against this. Modern garbage disposals are powerful, and designed to handle cherry and other fruit pits. These pits can be loud when in the disposal, and frequently grinding very hard food item does cause added wear and tear on the disposal, so many people opt to put cherry pits in the trash can.


Clams and Oysters

No. Clams and oysters can dull the disposal blades and potentially jam the garbage disposal.


Coffee Grounds

No. They aren’t likely to harm your garbage disposal, but coffee grounds stick together when wet, which can lead to clogged pipes.


Corn Husks and Corn Cobs

Yes and No. Some manufacturers specifically say do not put whole corn cobs or husks in the disposal, while others do not. While high power models will be able to grind up a corn cob and/or husk, it could take a long time. Also, the strings and fibers in corn husks can sometime get entangled in the disposals gears. So it’s a good idea to avoid putting corn husks and cobs in the garbage disposal.


Drano

Maybe. Most garbage disposal manufacturers tell you not to use caustic drain cleaners in their appliances. Drano and other chemical drain cleaners have a variety of products, only some of which are garbage disposals safe. Harsh chemicals can cause corrosion in your garbage disposal, so they should be avoided. If you do opt to use a chemical cleaner, check your disposal’s operating manual and the cleaning product to be sure they are safe.


Dirt

No. Dirt won’t harm the disposal if rinsed properly, but it can definitely clog your plumbing. If you’re cleaning dirt off of something, do it outside or over a trash can.


Egg Shells

No. Big egg shells turn into little egg shells, and they can clog drains over time. You can get away with it occasionally, but don’t make it the norm. They won’t hurt the disposal itself, it’s only an issues for your plumbing.


Flour

No. Most garbage disposals will have no problem with flour, even if it’s thick and pasty. However, flour is bad for your plumbing and can lead to slow drains and clogged pipes. Avoid when possible.


Fruit Peels

Yes. Most garbage disposals will have no problem grinding up fruit peels. If you have an inexpensive or low power disposal, you may want to avoid thick peels such as oranges, grapefruit, as they can be tougher to process. You’re not likely to have a problem if you only put in a few peels here and there, but large volumes could get stuck in the disposal or pipes.


Grease

No. Grease can solidify and accumulate in your disposal and pipes, which can cause clogged drains.


Hair

No. Human hair and pet hair are a leading cause of clogs. Never put hair down any drain if it can be avoided.


Lemon Peels

Yes. Just don’t put huge chucks, or too many pieces in at the same time. Lemon peels can actually improve garbage disposal odors.


Oil

No. Like grease, solidified cooking oils can cause problems with your disposal and plumbing over time.


Pasta

Yes, but not large amounts. It won’t hurt the garbage disposal, but pasta expands, even after it’s been cooked, which can cause plumbing clogs. Small amounts are okay, but avoid large volumes at once, and rinse thoroughly.


Pineapples

Pineapple

Yes, but… Most garbage disposal manufacturers do not specifically discourage this, but the tough skin of a pineapple will give your garbage disposal a workout. It will be much faster (and quieter) to use a trash can. Avoiding this type of abuse will also help extend the lifespan of your garbage disposal.


Potato Peels

Yes, but only a few at a time. Large amounts of potato peels can turn pasty and stick to the both the garbage disposal blades and your pipes, which can cause jams and clogs. Generally they are not great for you plumbing after they pass through your disposal, so they are best to avoid.


Rice

Yes, but just like pastas, do not put in large amounts at one time. Wet rice can expand, which can cause clogs in your pipes after the food has passed through the disposal. Small amounts of rice are normally fine, but avoid large volumes, and rinse thoroughly after running the disposal.


Tea Leaves

No. They aren’t an issue for the garbage disposal, but because these leaves don’t grind up well, they can pass through the disposal and clog your pipes over time.


Watermelon

Yes. Unless you have a very low horsepower model you can put watermelon in the garbage disposal. Avoid large pieces, and note rinds and husks may take a long time to grind up… a trash can may actually be much easier.


As you can see, garbage disposals are more capable than some people believe, especially high power models. If you follow a few rules, you should have no issues.

  • Never put any non-food items in the garbage disposal.
  • Don’t force large amounts of food into the disposal all at once.
  • Run plenty of water down the drain when using the disposal.
  • Always follow the guidelines in your owner’s manual.
  • Use your best judgement on how much wear and tear you want to put on your unit. (Consider the unit’s lifespan)
Garbage Disposal

We do our best to provide current and accurate information, but this content could contain errors or information that is not correct for your situation or equipment. Resources found on our website are provided as general information. Reddi Industries does not assume any liability resulting from the provided information. If you attempt to repair or modify plumbing, electrical, or other equipment in your home or business, always consult your equipment’s operating manual first, and only do so if you are qualified.