One of the most used items in your kitchen is probably your garbage disposal. Most of us use it at least once a day and if you have a family, you’ll more than likely use it several times a day.

We love our garbage disposals.

For the most part – they work wonderfully. Until of course, something that isn’t supposed to go down there – does!

The mistake many homeowners make is to think that their garbage disposal can act as a “food processor” of sorts for leftovers.


In actuality – it’s really meant to be used for very small amounts of food and then again, not all types of foods as you will see on the list below.

If your disposal gets clogged, then of course, you can call a plumber (Atlantis Plumbing works on MANY garbage disposal problems every month).

Or you can certainly hope that your home warranty covers unclogging garbage disposals.

But, our recommendation is to simply know what you can and cannot put into the disposal and you’ll save yourself alot of headaches and extend the life of your disposal unit.

Items You Should NOT Put Down Your Garbage Disposal

Utensils – I know, this seems obvious but you may not KNOW there’s a utensil in the disposal so before you turn it on, clear out your sink of items small enough to get into the disposal.

Coffee Grounds – It seems as if coffee grounds are fine enough to go through the disposal with no problem. But the matter of fact is that after sometime, grounds can accumulate in your pipes and clog them.

Eggshells – There’s a bit of a debate on Eggshells and Garbage Disposals. Some say they are okay, some do not. Again, the matter of fact is that the thin membrane inside the eggshell can wrap itself around the blades of the disposal.

Bones – Except for fish bones, it’s recommended to NOT put bones down your garbage disposal. And don’t be fooled into thinking you have an industrial strength disposal that can do the job – as of this writing – there is no such thing.

Pits and Seeds – You would never think of putting a marble down your garbage disposal, right? Well, some pits and seeds are just as hard as a marble so you can imagine the damage that these would cause to the blades of the disposal unit.

Grease – Most of us think of grease as liquid and assume it’s okay to put down the disposal. But – we would be wrong. In general, garbage disposals CAN handle liquids but grease doesn’t always stay liquid. Once it cools, it does solidify to some extent. And that is when the problems begin.

So, avoid putting all forms of oils and fats down your disposal.

Meats – Raw meats or greasy meat or meat with gristle should never go down the disposal. Not only can the gristle be too hard to grind, but the meat can become stringy and entangle around the blade.

Grains – This includes rice, pasta, couscous, quinoa, barley, millet and many others. Does not matter if it’s cooked or raw – avoid putting this down your disposal. The problem with these is that they tend to expand the more they are exposed to liquids. So, they can continue to expand and clog up your pipes so avoid putting these types of foods down your garbage disposal.

Fibrous Foods – Most everyone hates it when we get the Silk from corn stuck in our teeth. All foods that are similar, such as celery and asparagus should NOT be put down your garbage disposal. These can readily get tangled up in the blades and wreck your disposal unit.

An example of the list of specific food and food items to avoid putting in your garbage disposal are…

  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Banana Peels
  • Barley
  • Beans
  • Bones
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Coconuts
  • Coffee Grounds
  • Corn Husks
  • Couscous
  • Cucumber Peels
  • Eggshells
  • Flour of any kind
  • Grease and Fats
  • Grits
  • Lettuce
  • Meats
  • Millet
  • Oatmeal
  • Onion Skins
  • Pasta
  • Pineapple Rinds
  • Pits and Seeds
  • Popcorn (popped or unpopped)
  • Potato Peels
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Watermelon Rinds

There are other foods that can be added to the list but if you follow the general guidelines we outlined above – you will be able to extend the life of your garbage disposal for many years to come.

If you are having problems with your garbage disposal or have questions, call Atlantis Plumbing – the Atlanta, Georgia plumbers of choice at 770-505-8570.