10 Things You Should Never Put Down the Garbage Disposal

The list is longer than you might have thought.

It can be tempting to throw whatever we don’t want to deal with down the garbage disposal, but there are actually kind of a lot of foods that should not be put in this device. When all the rules are followed, an in-sink garbage disposal can last for decades. However, if the wrong thing goes down the hole (especially if it’s a repeat offender) problems can arise and expensive repairs can become necessary. Avoid these problems by never putting these 10 foods down the disposal.

in-sink kitchen garbage disposal
Via/ Flickr

10) Bones

As tempting as it might be to toss away chicken bones left from dinner, these should never go down the disposal. The reason is that they can stick in the blades or prevent them from spinning. Another problem is that cooked bones can also shatter, leaving fragments in the pipes that can lead to clogs. Bottom line: just don’t do it.

bones leftover after a meal
Via/ Flickr

9) Potato Peels

Potato peels are both tough and starchy, which means that they can make a clog in the pipes. Best to throw these in the compost bin. Some even say that no part of a potato should go in the disposal.

potatoes being peeled
Via/ Flickr

8) Grease or Oil

Fat and oil should never go down any drain, but lipids can be especially tough on garbage disposals. Fats can contribute to clogs.

broken grease jar
Via/ Flickr

7) Pasta, Rice, or Oats

These dried foodstuffs can all absorb water once they do down the drain, making them a bad choice to put down the disposal in large quantities. They can also form a sludge in the pipes since they disintegrate into pieces too small to be chopped up by the blades of the mechanism.

dried penne pasta on green background
Via/ Unsplash

6) Onion Skins

The skins of onions can’t really be effectively chopped up by the blades of the disposal, so these should go in the compost or garbage instead.

pile of onions in their skins
Via/ Unsplash

5) Corn Husks

Count this among the many things that are too fibrous to go in the disposal. You should also never put rhubarb, kale, or asparagus in there, either. The long fibers of these veggies can get stuck in the blades of the mechanism- slowing it down or stopping it over time.

corn cobs still in their husks
Via/ Unsplash

4) Shrimp Tails

Actually any kind of seafood shells are a big no no. Clam and lobster shells can damage the blades and softer shells can create clogs.

bowl of shrimp tails
Via/ Flickr

3) Nuts

The greasy sludge of any kind of nut butter is not something you’d ever want in your drain. Once you run nuts through disposal then that’s pretty much what will be inside your pipes.

mixed nuts
Via/ Flickr

2) Fruit Pits

These can damage the blades or even pass un-chopped into the pipes. That’s a clog just waiting happening.

peach with pit exposed
Via/ Unsplash

1) Broken Glass or Pottery

It should go without saying, but if you break something made of glass or china in the sink you can’t just run the disposal and hope for the best. You actually have to dig around inside and remove all the shards. Otherwise there will be clogs (and repair bills) in your future.

broken cocktail glass
Via/ Flickr

Finally, what about coffee grinds? Well, the jury is still out on that one, with some sources claiming they will create a sludge inside the mechanism and other sources claiming they will clean the disposal and make it smell better. In small quantities it should be fine, but most food waste in large amounts shouldn’t go down the disposal no matter what it is.

french press full of coffee
Via/ Unsplash