If you have a garbage disposal, the apparatus can be quite convenient — just toss in the garbage you don’t want in your trash can and grind it up, right? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. While there are a number of things you can safely put down a garbage disposal, there are also several items that never belong in there.

To help you better protect your plumbing system from damaging drain clogs, the experts at Drain Blaster Bill’s Sewer & Drain Cleaning discuss 13 of those items below. 

1. Grease and Cooking Oils

Most people understand that cooking fat doesn’t belong in a normal drain — it doesn’t belong in your garbage disposal either. When you pour cooking oils or grease down a garbage disposal, they immediately adhere to the inside of the drain, where they can build up and form a sludgy residue.

When other incoming solid particles come into contact with that residue, they can become stuck in it, which begins the slow formation of a drain clog. If you have cooking fats you need to toss out, collect them inside a small container. When the container is full, either scrape its contents into the trash or toss the whole thing. 

2. Fibrous Foods

Many fruits and vegetables contain fibrous strands that not only get caught in a garbage disposal’s blades but also accumulate inside the attached pipe. Over time, these foods can form tough drain blockages and even damage your disposal apparatus. They include:

●        Celery

●        Asparagus

●        Onion skins

●        Corn husks

●        Artichokes

●        Banana peels

If you own a premium garbage disposal with multi-grind technology, you can typically get away with grinding up fibrous foods in small amounts. However, to err on the safe side, it’s best to toss those foods in the trash or compost them, if you’re into that.

3. Bones

Just because your garbage disposal is great at grinding things up, that doesn’t mean it can grind everything successfully — bones fall into that category. If you accidentally let a bone slide down the chute, there’s no need to panic.

Garbage disposals are pretty resilient, and if yours is in good condition, it should be capable of grinding up the occasional small bone. However, if you put bones down the chute on a regular basis, you’ll inevitably end up with a drain clog. Or, worse, a drain clog and a broken disposal.

4. Trash

Although its name suggests you can toss garbage in it, a garbage disposal is not designed to handle household trash. Even if the trash is biodegradable, it doesn’t belong in your disposal.

Tossing paper towels, food packaging, and any other type of trash in there is a surefire way to not only damage your disposal beyond repair but also create a severe drain clog. 

5. Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are high in fat, so when you grind them up in your garbage disposal, they form a thick paste inside the pipe. As with cooking fats, this thick paste can stick to the pipe’s interior, where it traps incoming particles over time.

Eventually, the collection of food inside the pipe can lead to a severe drain clog, which, in most cases, necessitates professional drain cleaning. To avoid a (literally) sticky situation, don’t toss any type of fatty food in your garbage disposal. 

6. Fruit Pits

Like bones, fruit pits are incredibly hard, and dropping them down your garbage disposal can both damage the apparatus and lead to drain blockages. Generally, it’s best to assume that if you cannot chop up food waste with a knife, your garbage disposal can’t do the job either. To avoid disposal damage and irritating kitchen drain clogs, always toss pits in the trash or compost.

7. Egg Shells

If you’ve ever heard you should grind up eggshells to clean your disposal or sharpen its blades, that notion is false. After all, when was the last time you cleaned your blender or sharpened a knife with an eggshell?

The inside of an eggshell contains a thin membrane that breaks apart when a disposal’s blades grind it up. That membrane can get wound up in the apparatus’s impeller, where it can cause damage over time. Because that membrane is naturally somewhat sticky, it can also adhere to the interior of the attached pipe, where it will contribute to drain clogs over time.

8. Coffee Grounds

Like eggshells, many people mistakenly believe that used coffee grounds can help clean the inside of the disposal. Again, that notion is false. When you put coffee grounds down a disposal, they don’t all wash down the drain. Rather, some of them collect inside it, forming a thick sludge that easily traps incoming particles.

The result? A severe drain blockage, a backed-up pipe, and, potentially, a seriously damaged disposal, too. If you want to clean your disposal, dump some ice cubes in it instead.

9. Starchy Veggies

When starch gets wet, it naturally becomes sticky. Think about how a wet potato peel feels — slimy and sticky, right? When you toss these foods in your garbage disposal, their sticky nature can cause them to clump together as they travel through the pipe.

Over time, they can form a dense drain clog that typically requires professional kitchen drain cleaning. To avoid a sticky mess and a backed-up pipe, always toss high-starch food waste in the trash. 

10. Outer Layers of Onions

Putting chopped onions down your garbage disposal is totally fine, but when you peel away the outer layers of an onion, toss those layers in the compost — not down your disposal.

When you push those outer layers down your disposal drain, the membrane situated just beneath the onion’s dry skin can cause problems. If it passes through the disposal intact, it can create a sticky mess inside the pipe that’ll trap incoming debris that passes through. And if the membrane does go through the grinder, it could end up wrapping around it rather than being pulverized by it.

If the grinder accumulates too much sticky gunk, all that backed-up debris can lead to functionality issues as you continue operating the unit.

11. Pasta

Like starchy vegetables, pasta gets gummy as it cooks due to its high starch content. And if you put noodles down your disposal drain, there’s a good chance they’ll end up sticking together — even if they’re ground up — as they travel through the pipe.

You might be able to get away with tossing a few noodle scraps from your dinner plate down the disposal without causing problems, but don’t go stuffing a whole bowl of the stuff into those blades.

If you do decide to put any amount of pasta into your disposal, be sure to run cold water into it while the blades are running for at least thirty seconds after the noodles pass through. The water will effectively flush the drain trap and push any remaining sticky particles through the pipe and into your main sewer line. 

12. Oatmeal

If you’ve ever tried to clean oatmeal residue from the inside of a bowl, you know just how glue-like that stuff can be. And like starchy veggies and noodles, oats can easily gum up your disposal blades or congeal inside your pipes and contribute to a serious kitchen drain clog.

If you need to toss dry or cooked oatmeal out, put it in your compost bin (if you have one) or dump it in the trash if you want to keep your disposal functional and your pipes clog-free.

13. Chemical Drain Cleaners

Commercial drain cleaning solutions are highly caustic and can deteriorate both your disposal and your plumbing system when you use them regularly. If you need to bust through a clog or get a slow-draining disposal back up to speed, try putting a few cups of ice cubes into the drain to get things moving again.

If that doesn’t work, try using a bit of dish soap or pouring baking soda and white vinegar into the drain to clean and deodorize it. If all these remedies fail, call a drain cleaning specialist who can clear the clog and thoroughly clean the drain without damaging the pipes.

Do you operate a kitchen in a business setting? Then you’ll definitely want to check out our top tips on preventing clogged commercial kitchen drains.

Dealing With a Kitchen Drain Clog in the Twin Cities?

Whether you’re dealing with a sudden clog in your kitchen sink drain or you’ve dealt with persistent, minor clogs, get in touch with our team at Drain Blaster Bill’s Sewer & Drain Cleaning. We specialize in comprehensive drain cleaning for your entire house and serve the entire Twin Cities metro area. We also offer same-day service for your convenience!

To request a free estimate or learn more about our services, call our Stillwater, MN office today at 763-913-8719 or contact us online.