What Can and Can’t Go Down the Garbage Disposal

What Can and Can’t Go Down the Garbage Disposal

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Avoid service calls to a plumber when you know what can go down the garbage disposal. Your garbage disposal seems tough, but it can’t tackle just any kitchen waste. Do you know what can get put down the garbage disposal, or are you guilty of putting all kitchen waste in? Estes Services outlines what can go down, what to keep out and how to take care of your equipment.

What foods can you put down the garbage disposal?

The list of what can go down the disposal seems fairly short in comparison with what cannot. In reality, a great deal of food can go in, but there are just a few specific things you must keep out. These items are OK to put in:

Ice Cubes

Occasionally throw a few ice cubes down the drain. The solid ice will dislodge some food residue on the blades, as the blades work through them. For bonus points, freeze vinegar or lemon juice to clean and freshen.

Liquids and Soft Foods

Pretty self-explanatory. Some people say if a toddler could chew it, it’s good to go down the disposal. Likewise, if you want to dispose of solid foods, chop them up accordingly.

Citrus Rinds

Citrus rinds are something on the list of what can be put in the garbage disposal that benefits the equipment! Citrus rinds help keep the garbage disposal clean and smelling nice. Fruit scraps can also go in and help the smell.

Dish Soap

Chances are you’re not disposing of dish soap down the drain. You can pour some in, run some cold water and you have a quick drain cleaner.

Cold Water

For optimal function, run cold water through your disposal for 20 to 30 seconds before and after you grind anything. If you don’t, slimy food scraps will remain, and these will cause your sink to smell bad. Plus, when left behind, many of these items will adhere as they dry, producing a “glue-like” substance. This situation increases the need for a heavy-duty drain cleaner.

What should you not put down the garbage disposal?

Garbage disposals are a great help in eliminating cooking and food waste, but the following items should never be sent down the drain to your garbage disposal! The keep-out list is very important to follow or else clogs and other plumbing problems result.


Bones are strong and hard, and your garbage disposal blades will not entirely chop them. If they do make it past your garbage disposal, they won’t flow through your drains. Bones sit in your plumbing lines and catch other debris and blocks pipes.


Celery is hard composed of fibrous strands. When sent down the garbage disposal, these strands remain intact and wind around the blades. This prevents your garbage disposal from working properly and causes the motor to seize and burn out. Also keep other fibrous veggies and their byproducts out of the drain, such as corn husks, carrot peels, onion skins, artichokes, chard, kale, lettuce and asparagus.

Egg Shells

You may have heard putting egg shells down your garbage disposal will sharpen its blades. This shouldn’t be done because the membranes attached to the egg shell tend to stick to the garbage disposal’s components and even wrap around blades. Egg shell membranes can damage garbage disposal’s components, causing breakdowns.

Coffee Grounds

While coffee grounds seem reasonable to put down the disposal, they have a tendency to build up and not wash away completely. Coffee grounds accumulate in your drain lines where they eventually cause a clog. These sandy hazards love to get caught in the drain trap. So keep coffee grounds out!


In general, disposals and drains handle most liquids just fine. The problem with grease is it solidifies when it cools. While warm, grease and oil will wash down easily, but as soon as it comes in contact with cold water or temperatures within your drain lines, it will solidify. Grease and oil cause clogs and blocked plumbing lines. This often requires extensive Atlanta drain cleaning service to clear. Also, keep cooking oils, butter, salad dressings and mayonnaise out of your garbage disposal.

Fruit Pits

Fruit pits from avocados, peaches and other fruits are extremely hard. A garbage disposal won’t be able to cut through these food scraps and damage itself in the process. Throw them directly into the trash can.


Pasta expands when it comes into contact with water. The same thing happens when these starches are left in the garbage disposal. Cooked or raw, keep it out. Raw pasta expands to clog drain lines and sticky cooked pasta easily becomes trapped in the drain or in the disposal itself. Rice should also be treated the same as pasta – put it in the trash, not down the drain.

Potato Peels

Food – such as potato peels, beans and other starchy vegetables – do not rinse through your garbage disposal well. They tend to accumulate and result in a sludge within the disposal. Peel your potatoes over the trash can rather than the sink to keep peels out of your disposal.

Garbage Disposal Maintenance Tips

The most important garbage disposal maintenance tip is knowing what do put in. Much of what can be put down the garbage disposal actually helps keep your equipment in top shape. Here’s a to-do list tasks to keep your garbage disposal in good working condition:

  • Always keep cold water running during garbage disposal use, and for 20 to 30 seconds after food waste is ground. This helps food wash through your drains and prevents the disposal’s motor from overheating.
  • Clean your disposal by putting in ice and running the unit. Prevent ice chunks from flying out by putting the sink stopper in place before you run the unit.
  • Use degreaser to clean the garbage disposal of any fats that have gotten in. A good cleaning also improves efficiency and reduces odors.
  • Your sink needs drain cleaning every year or two to help your garbage disposal smoothly drain.
  • Avoid bacterial growth in the unit when you grind citrus rinds through the unit.

Professional Atlanta Plumbers Specializing in Garbage Disposal Repair and Installation

Now you know what can go down the disposal? If you experience trouble with your disposal or are ready to have a new one installed, contact Estes Services. Our licensed Atlanta plumbers specialize in garbage disposal repair and installation to add convenience in your kitchen.