After ruining three disposals in the last seven years, I’ve learned a few things that I wish someone had told me along the way. In case you, too, need a lesson on what NOT to put down your disposal, here you go! We asked the experts at Wills Handyman for a run down of what to do — and what NOT to do — before you consider turning the switch on that disposal!


6 Things to NEVER Put in the Disposal

#1. Grease and fats

Grease can cause a film to build up on your disposal blades, thus causing them to be ineffective. Bad smells and clogged drains can appear as the grease and fats begin to solidify.

#2. Egg shells

Egg membranes can be damaging to the shredding ring.

#3. Coffee grounds

Once wet, coffee grounds stick together, taking on a sludge-like form, which can block the drain pipes.

#4. Pasta, beans & rice

Foods that swell when wet can further swell in your disposal. Beware that too much of these items can cause blockages.

#5. Fibrous, stringy foods

If you put fibrous foods, like celery for instance, down the disposal, do so in low quantities at a time and run lots of water before, during and after. Other examples would be asparagus and onion peels. Don’t put super fibrous foods, like corn husks and artichoke leaves, in the disposal EVER.

#6. Fruit pits and bones

If your knife can’t make it through, it’s safe to say that it’s not good for your disposal!

Other things to note:

Never use hot water while grinding food in the disposal.

Always let the cold water run before food enters the disposal and for approximately 15 seconds post grinding to clear the drain of the debris. Why? Cold water keeps any grease or fat in solid form for best grinding. Hot water liquifies grease and fat, which causes clogs in the drain, coats the blades and the pipes. Cold water makes food more brittle, which is the best state to be in when you want your food to be broken up.

Don’t use liquid drain cleaners on a clogged sink.

Liquid drain cleaners can cause more damage than good. They use a chemical reaction that generates a lot of heat and can distort the plastic drain lines over time. Using boiling water is better for the drains as it allows a natural expanding of the line to help clear the drain and then contraction when the line cools versus the chemical heat reaction of drain cleaners. A plumbing snake at home is useful for clogs as well.

High water pressure can cause fixtures to break.

Water pressure should be tested to ensure there isn’t too much pressure causing fixtures to fail prematurely. Check with a water pressure gauge on an exterior hydrant. Thirty to 50 psi is standard; anything above 80 is too high.

Remember the reset button.

Most disposals have a reset button on the bottom. If your disposal stops grinding, find the reset button and try pushing it before paying someone to push it for you.

Do not reuse disposals.

Disposals invariably break and/or go bad shortly after being reinstalled. When renovating your kitchen, get a new one instead of re-installing your old one.

Thank you, Wills Handyman! Perhaps this time I will be able to keep a disposal for more than a few years!

In the end, use your compost and trash can to scrape plates and use the disposal for the extra stuff that comes off those plates when rinsing. That should keep your disposal and kitchen pipes working well for years and years to come!


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