What Foods Can I Put Down a Garbage Disposal?

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Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, and before you know it, friends and family will be gathered around the table to enjoy a variety of delicious foods and treats. During the holiday season, your garbage disposal will be hard at work grinding and disposing of uneaten food. So, what foods are safe to put down the garbage disposal, and which are not?

Keep reading to learn what foods are safe for your garbage disposal, what will cause unwanted clogs and back up in your kitchen plumbing, and how to prevent your garbage disposal from clogging.

Garbage Disposal-Safe Foods

Almost all foods are safe to put in your home’s garbage disposal, including but not limited to:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Chicken
  • Salad
  • Soup
  • And more

However, some foods may require a little extra work before putting down your garbage disposal. It is recommended to cut large pieces of beef, pork, chicken, and other meats into smaller, bite-sized pieces before disposing. Doing so helps protect your garbage disposal’s blades from becoming dull and from clogging your kitchen’s plumbing.

Foods Not Recommended for Garbage Disposals

There are a few types of foods—pasta, rice, bread, animal bones, and coffee grinds—that could damage your garbage disposal and its plumbing, resulting in costly repairs. Expandable foods, or foods that expend when put in water, are not safe for garbage disposals. Expandable foods include:

  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Beans
  • Foods high in starch (potatoes, cookies, cakes, etc.)

When a large amount of expandable foods are run through a garbage disposal, the foods cause blockage in your kitchen plumbing. If you notice your sink is slow to drain or water quickly backs up when doing the dishes, your garbage disposal may be clogged.

Seeds from fruits and vegetables, along with coffee grinds, can all be put into your garbage disposal, but doing so over a long period of time causes such foods to accumulate in your sink’s pipes and result in clogging. In addition to backups, large animal bones (chicken, turkey, beef, and pork) can dull disposal blades and cause severe backups.

Are Grease and Oil Safe for Garbage Disposals?

Grease, oil, and fatty foods are all safe to be run through your sink’s garbage disposal, but under specific guidelines. To prevent clogging, it is suggested to run cold water while putting grease, oil, and fatty foods down your garbage disposal. It is important to solidify all grease, oil, and fatty foods using cold water so your garbage disposal properly breaks apart these foods. If warm water is used during this process, grease and oil will coagulate in your plumbing, causing clogging deeper into your plumbing system.

Tips to Prevent Blockage and Clogging in Your Garbage Disposal

Follow these easy steps to prevent clogs and keep your garbage disposal running properly:

  • Always run cold water (never warm water) when placing any food in your garbage disposal
  • Never put expandable foods, starches, seeds, coffee grinds, or cigarette butts in your garbage disposal
  • Occasionally dispose of whole lemons or oranges to give your garbage disposal a fresh scent
  • Occasionally use egg shells or small chicken bones to sharpen garbage disposal blades and clean the inside walls of the disposal plumbing
  • Occasionally freeze vinegar in an ice tray and grind in your garbage disposal to disinfect the plumbing and garbage disposal blades

Warning: never insert hands, fingers, or other body parts into your garbage disposal in an attempt to unclog or retrieve small items. Doing so could result in serious injury.

American Mechanical installs and repairs garbage disposals in the Virginia Beach area. Contact us today to learn more about our residential plumbing services.