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Ask a NJ Plumber: Is it OK to put this Down a Garbage Disposal?

Down a Garbage DisposalDo you scrape your plates into the sink without a second thought? If you’re not careful about what you put down a garbage disposal, it could lead to some serious problems in the future. Find out below what your plumbing can (and can’t) handle.

Do NOT Put This Down a Garbage Disposal

  • Your Hand- First and foremost, never, ever put your hand down the disposal. This should go without saying, but even if you turn off the switch, there is still power to the unit. If you must retrieve something, unplug the unit or turn off the circuit breaker.
  • Stringy Foods- Although it may seem harmless to toss fruit and vegetables down your drain, long, stringy fibers can become entangled around the blades, causing it to jam. Avoid celery, asparagus, lettuce, onion skins, artichokes, and corn husks.
  • Bones, Pits and Peels- Sure, they’re biodegradable, but the disposal won’t be strong enough to handle bones, fruit pits or potato peels. It’s best to save these for the compost instead.

Here’s a handy tip to remember: if you have a tough time chewing it up, it’s too tough to go down your disposal.

  • Pasta and Rice– Think about it, pasta and rice both expand in water. Get them in your pipes and you’re looking at one sticky clog.
  • Nuts– Imagine putting nut butter down your drain. Go ahead, think about that for a moment, we’ll wait. Nuts? Not a good idea.
  • Grease– Fatty grease and oil will undoubtedly clog your pipes. This includes butter, bacon fat and even your healthy, organic coconut oils. Once it cools, it solidifies. And clogs. Plus, it can also decrease the effectiveness by leaving a filmy residue on the blades.

Go Ahead…Put This Down a Garbage Disposal

  • Orange Rinds– Small peels of citrus fruits, like oranges, lemons and limes, leave your drain smelling fresh. Plus, as a bonus, they naturally clean and deodorize your disposal at the same time!
  • Some Coffee Grounds– Key word being “some.” Small amounts of coffee grounds are OK to put down a garbage disposal, but in large amounts, they can get stuck in the trap and create a back up in pipes. Try this DIY hack to clean your disposal: mix used coffee grounds along with epsom salts, baking soda and some vinegar. The coffee grounds help get rid of smells and hold the pellets together. Mix it all together, let it dry overnight and then they’re ready to go. Store them on the countertop by the sink and throw one in each day to keep your disposal running smooth and smelling great.
  • Ice– Go ahead and put a few ice cubes down the drain. Ice will help sharpen the blades (without damaging them) and break up grease deposits.
  • Non-Fibrous Food Scraps– Small amounts of cooked meat, and non-fibrous fruit and vegetable scraps are fine to let run through a garbage disposal. But as mentioned above, avoid large chunks of meat, fruit pits, peels, as well as fibrous foods.

Drain Cleaning by Brown’s

Contrary to popular belief, garbage disposals cannot handle everything you throw at them (literally). Like any appliance, regular maintenance is important if you want to make it last (and avoid major repairs or replacement). At Brown’s we offer a wide variety of plumbing services including drain cleaning for bathtubs, sewer lines, sinks and garbage disposals.
Contact Brown’s Heating, Cooling & Plumbing to schedule an appointment or call us at 732-741-0694 to speak with one of our experienced plumbers.