Garbage disposals make our lives easier, but sometimes they get treated like a garbage can. Taking care of your appliance can extend its lifespan, avoid expensive repairs, and keep your pipes clean.
The average person spends nearly 400 hours in their kitchens each year. That’s a lot of cooking, cleaning, and wear-and-tear on household appliances like your garbage disposal.
Your garbage disposal simplifies the task of food waste disposal. To keep it working properly and avoid costly repairs, it’s crucial to understand what should never go down the disposal.
What Not to Put Down Your Garbage Disposal
Your garbage disposal is a convenient kitchen appliance that helps efficiently manage food waste. It’s essential to understand what should and should not be put down the disposal to avoid damage and maintain its optimal performance.
Grease, Oil, and Fat
Bones and Hard Shells
One of the most common mistakes homeowners make is pouring grease, oil, or fat down the garbage disposal. While these substances may be in liquid form when hot, they solidify as they cool, creating a sticky, congealed mess that can clog the disposal and the plumbing pipes. Dispose of these materials in a separate container and discard them in the trash instead.
Fibrous foods, such as celery, onion skins, corn husks, and artichokes, should never find their way into your garbage disposal. The long, stringy fibers can wrap around the blades and cause the motor to jam. It’s best to toss these items in the compost or regular trash.
Potato peels, rice, pasta, and other starchy foods are a big no-no for your garbage disposal. When these items get wet, they can expand and turn into a gluey mass, leading to clogs in the drain. Dispose of starchy food waste in the trash or consider composting as a more sustainable option.
While small amounts of coffee grounds may seem harmless, they can accumulate and create blockages in your pipes over time. Instead of rinsing coffee grounds down the disposal, dispose of them in your compost bin or sprinkle them in your garden as a natural fertilizer.
Contrary to popular belief, eggshells should not be put in the garbage disposal. The thin membrane inside the shell can wrap around the disposal blades, and the shells themselves can create a sandy texture that is difficult to flush out. Discard eggshells in the trash or crush them and use them as compost for your garden.
Garbage disposals are not designed to handle hard objects like bones, seafood shells, or fruit pits. These items can dull or damage the blades, leading to motor strain and potential malfunctions. Dispose of bones and shells in the trash or consider composting them if appropriate.
What Can You Put Down Your Garbage Disposal?
While you may be tempted to toss all types of food waste down the garbage disposal, there are some foods that your disposal is ideal for eliminating:
Soft Food Scraps
Soft food scraps like cooked vegetables, fruits (except citrus peels), and small amounts of leftover meat can be safely disposed of in the garbage disposal. Cut them into smaller pieces for easier processing.
Occasionally running ice cubes through your disposal helps keep the blades clean and sharp. It also helps remove any lingering odors.
While other peels can be problematic, citrus peels like lemon or orange peels can help freshen up your disposal and eliminate unpleasant smells. However, use them sparingly to avoid overloading the system.
How to Care for Your Garbage Disposal
A well-maintained garbage disposal can last up to 12 years. Proper usage and maintenance are key to maximizing the lifespan and efficiency of your garbage disposal.
Run Cold Water
Always run cold water while operating the garbage disposal and for a few seconds afterward. Cold water helps solidify greasy substances, making it easier for the disposal to grind them up and prevent clogs.
To prevent motor strain and ensure efficient grinding, feed small amounts of food waste into the disposal at a time. Avoid stuffing large quantities all at once.
Periodically clean your garbage disposal by pouring a mixture of baking soda and vinegar down the drain. Let it sit for a few minutes, then flush it with hot water to eliminate odors and maintain cleanliness.
Use Disposal-Friendly Cleaners
There are specific garbage disposal cleaners available in the market. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to use these cleaners effectively and maintain a well-functioning unit.
Remember, when in doubt, opt for the trash can or consider composting as eco-friendly alternatives. By taking a few simple precautions, you can keep your kitchen clean, your plumbing clear, and your garbage disposal operating efficiently for years to come.
Call The Pros
If your disposal is malfunctioning, call on the plumbing experts at Legacy Heating and Air to help clear up the problem and get your kitchen back to working order. You can schedule a service appointment easily online or call 574.293.8444.