Experts In Your Home Blog

All You Need To Know About Your Garbage Disposal

[fa icon="calendar"] September 17, 2018 at 2:56 PM / by Home Services Expert

garbage disposalDid you know that your garbage disposal is one of the most used small appliances in your kitchen?Yet, do you really know much about the little appliance you use at least once a day if not more?  

If you don’t know much about your garbage disposal then there is no need to fret. We believe that it’s best to live by the philosophy of "the more information you have on a topic [in this case an appliance] the less problems you’ll cause and the less money you’ll need to spend to fix those problems that could’ve easily been avoided."

Therefore, we're here to tell you all that you need to know about the little grinding gadget in your kitchen sink - from what it’s used for, what can and can’t go down it, to how long they last. By the end you’ll be an expert on the use of a garbage disposal!

  

What is a Garbage Disposal Used For?

According to the dictionary, a garbage disposal is “an electrically operated device fitted to the waste pipe of a kitchen sink for grinding up food waste” or “a device in a kitchen sink that grinds up food waste so it can be washed down the drain.” No matter which definition suits you, the same is true: it grinds up food waste.

 

What Items Can Go Down a Garbage Disposal?

What the dictionary doesn’t tell you is what food waste is acceptable, which is why we like to change the name from garbage disposal to scraps disposal as it more accurately informs you what kind of food waste is acceptable.

The first question to ask yourself is if the scraps you're thinking of putting down your disposal are biodegradable. If so, then you should be good. If they aren’t then divert those scraps to the trashcan where they belong! The list of items that can safely go down a disposal is way shorter than the list of items you should avoid putting down your disposal.

Here is the very small list of items that are safe:

  • Citrus Rinds: get rid of them and make your kitchen smell clean.
  • Fruit Scraps: All good and they may have your disposal smelling like a smoothie [bonus only if you love smoothies].
  • Scraps of Cooked Meat: make sure they aren’t too big, leftovers should go in the fridge or trashcan if they won’t be eaten.
  • [Almost] All Veggie Scraps: there are just a few vegetables that are too tough or stringy to make it safely down, which are listed below.

 

What Items Cannot Go Down a Garbage Disposal?

As stated above, we like to change the name to “scraps” disposal because it's not the place to dump your unwanted food. When cleaning out all your expired and unwanted food from the fridge or cupboard throw it directly into the trash and, if needed, take it to the dumpster to stop any unwanted smells from accumulating. If you don't place any of the items below in your disposal you'll avoid clogging your pipes on a regular basis.

Here is a list of the items that should never go in the garbage disposal:

  • Celery: the strings can end up wrapped around the blades making your blades not function well. 
  • Egg Shells: experts go back and forth, but for safety it’s easier to place them in the trash.
  • Potato Peels: high in starch, they will ultimately end up making a big mushy mess and give your blades something to stick to, which will render them useless to you.
  • Banana Peels: like celery, the strings can come apart and wrap themselves around the blades.
  • Bones: big and small, they should just be placed in the trash.
  • Carrot Peels: it’s a fibrous veggie, they are just never good to stick down a pipe.
  • Fruit Pits: every tried cutting one with a knife? Enough said, to the trash they go.
  • Pasta and Rice: the more water they encounter the bigger they become, which can cause a multitude of problems in your pipes.
  • Corn Husks: ever peeled one? All those strings get stuck to anything and everything leaving it a big fat no to going down your disposal.
  • Cooking Grease: the grease may slip right past your disposal’s blades but once it cools down it’ll turn into a solid, leaving everything to pile on top of it, ultimately clogging your pipe. Avoid all of that by pouring your leftover cooking grease in a plastic cup and placing it in your freezer. Once the cup is full toss it into the trash and pull out a new cup!
  • Coffee Grounds: while a little bit of grounds won’t kill your disposal, the more you place down the more it settles at the bottom and can cause a clog.
  • Glass: it’s not even food, pick out the big broken pieces [while wearing gloves] and place them in the trash.

Now, if a little bit of any of the above accidently goes down it’s okay. Accidents happen, just don’t make it a regular occurrence and you should be fine! The upside to placing these items in the trash instead of your disposal is that you'll avoid clogging your pipes on a regular occurrence!

 

How Long Does a Garbage Disposal Last?

The newer the model is, the longer it will last as it will have more bells and whistles that make the process easier. On average though, a disposal should last you anywhere from eight to fifteen years before the motor runs out or the blades become too dull to grind anymore.

The more you watch what you place down your disposal the longer it will last you. Treat it with care and it’ll be there for a good long while; treat it like your trash can and you can be sure you’ll need a replacement sooner than you wish. Follow the do’s and don’ts from above and you should be good to make your disposal last as long as it can.

Smelling Good Tip: Keep your disposal smelling good by keeping slices of your favorite citrus fruit next to the sink [lemons are always a good choice] and when you’re done doing dishes place a slice or two down the disposal. It’ll leave your sink smelling fresh and clean.

Keep It Sharp Tip: If you feel like your disposal blades aren’t as sharp as they once were, place a handful of ice cubs from your freezer down and turn it on. Turn it off when you hear the blades have finished grinding them up. Your blades will now be in sharper condition for the next round of dishes.

 

Even knowing all of this information, things happens and parts break. That’s why we have Experts there for you anytime you need them. If something breaks contact an Expert to fix it right the first time. 

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Experts In Your Home has been serving the North State’s construction, remodeling and maintenance needs for over 30 years and provides home painting, heating & air conditioning, plumbing, electrical services & more for your home or business in the communities of Chico, Paradise, Magalia, Durham, Oroville, Red Bluff, Corning & Orland, California.

Topics: Home Tips, Plumbing