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The Home Depot

Things That Break Your Garbage Disposal

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Plumbing > Things That Break Your Garbage Disposal
Things That Break Your Garbage Disposal

A kitchen sink garbage disposal is an essential part of most homes. They are very useful in helping get rid of waste food. However, there are some things that you cannot put down the garbage disposal under any circumstances. This is because these can lead to clogging up the unit or even cause its breakdown. There are also some precautions you should take before operating the garbage disposal. Firstly, it is important to run cold water into the garbage disposal before putting in the waste food and switching it on. Secondly, only small amounts of food should be put into the disposal at any time.


A Warning and a Reason

In some cities, the civic administration absolutely forbids the disposal of fats, oil, and grease being put down the disposal unit. The rule applies to homeowners as well as commercial establishments like restaurants. This is because when too much fat, oil, and grease gets into the sewer pipes, they can solidify and stick to the pipes causing blockages or lead to sewer overflows.


The same thing can happen on a smaller scale if you are not careful about what you throw into your garbage disposal unit each day. It is best to first scrape off the dishes in the trash before washing them in the sink. Heavy oil and grease should be wiped off with paper towels which should then be disposed of in the trash.

  1. 1.Meats, Bones, and Eggshells

    It is important to remember that “less” is the keyword as far as garbage disposal is considered.

    You should never try to dispose of meat or bones in a kitchen garbage disposal. This is because the meat is likely to have fat which cannot be broken down by the disposal unit. Similarly, the bones will be too hard and can cause the ruin of the blades. If you must throw in meat, then it will have to be cut into very tiny bits before disposal. Egg shells should never find their way into the garbage disposal since they can end up inflicting damage.

  2. 2.Rice and Pasta

    Two other items that are not recommended for a garbage disposal unit are rice and pasts, irrespective of how small they are. The starch that these products contain might lead them to be sticky and adhere to the blades of the unit. Even flowing water will not help to get them detangled because rice and pasta tend to absorb water and swell up causing the pipes to get clogged.

  3. 3.Stringy Vegetables and Peels

    Yet another strict no-no in garbage disposals is stringy and fibrous vegetables such as asparagus, lettuce, and celery. Peels of vegetables such as potatoes and artichokes should also not be put down the garbage disposal. Since they can be tough, the blades may not be able to move freely and can lead to damage. Banana peels are also an example of what not to throw in the garbage disposal. This is just too much for your garbage disposal to handle.


    Ask your contractor about the fundamentals of your issue at hand, and the experience they have in rectifying these issues. Ask about turnaround time, how quickly can the repair/replacement be done? Additionally, ask your contractor to give any advice they have on preventing what caused the damage in the first place.

  4. 4.Seeds and Rinds

    Different seeds such as those inside the apple and other fruits or unpopped popcorn kernels, should be kept far away from the garbage disposal because they can get stuck in it and removing them later might be necessary. However, lemon rind is considered a natural garbage disposal cleanser. Putting in a few small pieces of lemon rind along with some ice cubes on top and letting the cold water run on it while the disposal is running is a good way of cleaning the unit and keeping odors at bay.

  5. 5.Miscellaneous Objects

    Objects such as spoons, small lids, or toys may fall into the garbage disposal unit from time to time. This might be an accident or a mischievous child at play. When such objects fall into the unit, your best option is to extract them out carefully. But this is not always possible and the object might end up damaging the disposal before you can act. Once the damage is done, calling a professional to repair or replace it might be the only option left.


    It is important to remember that “less” is the keyword as far as garbage disposal is considered. Only small quantities of garbage should be discarded through the unit at a time; this is not a giant trash compactor. It might seem time consuming, but it is definitely better than having to spend on disposal unit repairs. And don’t forget, you have the trash bin for all other stuff that has to be disposed of. If you are already dealing with a broken garbage disposal, check out our Garbage Disposal Installation Guide to help get your new one up and running quickly.

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