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Garbage Disposal Dos and Don'ts

Garbage Disposal Dos and Don'ts to Follow for Proper Functioning

Ever since its invention in 1927, garbage disposal has become an indispensable part of the kitchen. However, improper maintenance can result in clogging and malfunction of the unit. Let us have a look at some primary garbage disposal dos and don'ts, which help ensure proper functioning.
Priya Johnson
Last Updated: Mar 10, 2018
food Compost
Some of us just can't do without garbage disposals. We have got so used to this electrical device that shreds food scraps and causes them to disappear down the drain in no time, that we cannot think of a life without them. Garbage disposals are built to dispose most biodegradable food wastes. However, irrespective of the type one has, misuse and negligence can result in a clogged unit. Some may even burn out, due to overload or disposal of very hard food items.
Important Dos and Don'ts
Although each garbage disposal unit has its own capacity to bear different food items, here are some general rules of what can go and what not to put into a garbage disposal.
Garbage Disposal Dos
  • Always turn on a moderate flow of cold water, before turning on the garbage disposal. This prepares it to grind scraps and send them down the drain.
  • If you have leftover grease, refrigerate it and then throw away the solid fat into the trash.
  • Always feed food scraps little at a time into the garbage disposal. Moreover, keep the cold water running as you do this.
  • Always remember, your garbage disposal is not a trash can and is meant only to dispose bits of food scraps. Small pieces of cooked vegetables get disposed off well in the garbage disposal.
  • Boneless pieces of meat can be disposed off in the unit. Eggs can also be disposed down the drain.
  • Non-fibrous food items can be easily disposed using the garbage disposal.
  • Always put only biodegradable waste into the garbage disposal.
  • Always turn off the unit, wear safety gloves and glasses before you pry open the garbage disposal.
  • Vegetable soups can be easily sent down through the garbage disposal. However, one must be careful while throwing meat soups, because of the bones.
  • Cooked oats, cereal, millets and legumes are safe to discard into the garbage disposal.
  • Always allow the cold water to continue to flow till about half a minute after the grinding process has ceased. This helps to flush the garbage down the pipes.
  • To reduce the stink from the sink, put a few pieces of lemon or orange peel into the garbage disposal. Your sink will smell fresh. You can also freeze some vinegar in an ice cube tray and throw them in to sanitize it and eliminate unpleasant odor.
  • To sharpen the blades of the garbage disposal, put some ice cubes while it is grinding. The ice shards will sharpen the blades.
  • Make sure you run the garbage disposal at least once every week. Keep up this habit even if you are not using it for disposing waste. Under cold running tap water, allow the garbage disposal to run for a minute or two.
Garbage Disposal Don'ts
  • Never use hot water for the disposal. Hot water liquefies grease and causes clogs in the drain. However, if you use cold water, the solid grease gets cut down into tiny bits and then sent into the drain.
  • This does not mean you can put solid fat into the garbage disposal. Always throw solid fat into the garbage bin.
  • Never leave a heap of food scraps in the sink to be discarded. This will only damage the disposal unit.
  • Never put big chunks of food, such as whole carrots, etc. into the disposal unit. Chop them up into tiny pieces before disposing them.
  • Never throw egg shells, oyster or shrimp shells into the unit. Also, never put bones into it. All these when ground can clog the drain pipes.
  • Never throw high-fiber foods such as corn husks, onion peels, artichokes, lettuce, celery, banana peels, unpopped popcorn and seeds into the disposal. These items can clog the drain.
  • Never put any plastic, glass, metallic items, paper, wood, sponges, etc., into the disposal unit. This includes aluminum foils. These items should be strictly disposed off in the garbage bin.
  • Never put your hand into the grinding chamber or even the drain, while it is running or even if it is switched off, refrain from doing so, if you have not worn safety gloves.
  • Never put tea bags or coffee grounds into the unit, as they end up clogging the garbage disposal. The garbage disposal can easily grind coffee grounds, however, it does increase a risk of clogs further down the drain, due to an oil released from the coffee grounds.
  • Never put food items like pasta, spaghetti, rice, etc., into the disposal, as they expand in the drain and conduce to clogs.
  • Never stop the water flow before the grinding has ceased. If you do, it will result in a burnt motor.
  • Never use harsh drain chemicals or bleaches to eliminate the clogs or stink. There are some garbage disposal cleaners which you can use, however, it is better to stick to borax for cleaning the unit.
  • Don't put potato peels into the unit, as this will cause the blades to stick.
  • Never let the disposal go unused for a long period of time. This can conduce to rust and corrosion of the unit.
With technology evolving so rapidly, garbage disposal manufacturers have also come up with new, improved versions of garbage disposals, which grind most biodegradable food items. This eliminates all the worrying about what can go or what not to put into the garbage disposal. Nevertheless, it is better to maintain a few precautions by paying heed to the above-mentioned dos and don'ts, rather than having the system clogged and shelling out cash to get it fixed. All the best!