What You Can and Cannot Put Into Your Garbage Disposal

Vegetable peels being put down the garbage disposal in Waldorf.

While the disposal of food is one of the most common causes of a clogged kitchen sink, the introduction of the garbage disposal in the 1940s has significantly improved this issue. However, that doesn’t mean garbage disposals are perfect.

Learn what items can and cannot be placed into your garbage disposal down below. If you’re experiencing issues with your kitchen sink, our team at Genevie Plumbing can help. Contact us online or call (301) 645-1759 to learn more about our plumbing services.

History of the Garbage Disposal

Did you know in the United States today approximately 50% of homes have a garbage disposal? After its initial invention in the late 1920s, the first garbage disposal unit was introduced to the public in the mid-1930s following a wide-spread issue of food waste in sewer systems. Garbage disposals allowed certain foods to pass through plumbing systems without clogging them. Today, garbage disposals help reduce harmful food bacterias and make life easier for people washing dishes.

How a Garbage Disposal Works

A garbage disposal is a lot like a paper shredder. Installed between the sink’s drain and the drain trap, when scraps of food pass through the “shredder” they get cut into tiny pieces that are small enough to pass through a home’s plumbing system without issue.

But just like anything else you own, proper maintenance is required to get the most out of your disposal unit. 

What You Can Put Into Your Disposal

Knowing what you can and cannot put into your disposal will greatly affect the unit’s efficiency and its lifespan. When used properly, most garbage disposals can last anywhere between 10-12 years. So, what items can you put into your disposal so as not to cause any problems?

  • Citrus Rinds
  • Coffee grounds
  • Cooked meat scraps—no large amounts or big chunks!
  • Fruits and Vegetables (with some restrictions)
  • Cooked leftovers and similar scraps
  • Salad
  • Wet Canned Cat or Dog Food

What You Cannot Put Into Your Disposal

While it may not be as convenient as scraping things into the garbage disposal, a number of items should be specifically reserved for the trash or composting. Some examples of what you cannot put into your disposal are:

  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Banana Peels
  • Corn husks
  • Egg shells
  • Fruit pits
  • Grease
  • Bones
  • Nuts
  • Onion skins
  • Pasta and rice
  • Potato Peels
  • Shrimp shells

What Happens if Your Disposal Stops Working?

The list of what cannot go into a garbage disposal is exhaustive. Keep in mind that the accidental egg shell, artichoke, or onion skin down the disposal, in small amounts, won’t do extensive damage to your garbage disposal. However, if you find that your disposal is experiencing issues, never under any circumstance should you reach into your garbage disposal. 

The best thing you can do is contact your local Waldorf plumber to handle the situation.

Common Signs Your Garbage Disposal Is Not Working Properly

There are a number of reasons as to why your garbage disposal may not be working at its best performance. However, if you’re not certain, here are some of the common signs to look out for if your disposal is experiencing any issues:

  • No power: If your unit isn’t turning on, the motor may be worn out and requires a replacement.
  • Jamming: Items such as coins or kitchen utensils or large pieces of food waste have been placed into the disposal, preventing the unit from working properly—do not place your hand into the disposal!
  • Clogged: Typically items that are not allowed into the disposal haven’t broken down properly, causing blockage in the plumbing system.
  • Excessive Noise: Bones and other scraps or objects can make noise in your unit which can lead to further damage to the pipes.
  • Leaks: If your disposal is leaking, the external seals may be gone, requiring a replacement of the disposal.

Accidents Happen, Genevie Plumbing Can Help Waldorf Homeowners!

Whether you’ve put all the right or wrong items down your garbage disposal, keeping up with maintenance is important to preventing future issues and maintaining the quality and life of your disposal. 

Genevie Plumbing has been recognized as one of the most reliable plumbers since 1993 in Charles County. Our team of expert plumbers will provide you with exceptional 24/7 service for any of your Waldorf garbage disposal and plumbing needs. Contact us online or call (301) 645-1759 to schedule a service today.

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