Getting to the Basics: Remodeling Projects

What Shouldn't You Throw Into The Garbage Disposal?

by Jill Jenkins

There are several things that people toss into their garbage disposals that will cause clogged drains and possible damage to the disposal's blades. 

Generally speaking, the only items that can be placed in the garbage disposal are those that you would also put into your mouth. Forbidden items include:

Oils and grease

Any fat that is solid at room temperature should never be dumped into a garbage disposal, or even an open drain. Melted oils and grease congeal much faster that you might think, and present a potential for creating a roadblock in your drain pipes, collecting anything solid that follows them.

Egg Shells

The shells themselves are not the problem. The issue is the thin membrane inside the shells. The garbage disposal will shred it and spin it into a web that entangles bits of food and other debris and creates a blockage in your drain.


Because chicken and turkey bones are easily crushed and broken, some people believe that a garbage disposal will allow them to pass safely through drain pipes.

Actually, it is this quality that causes the bones to splinter into slivers that become wedged in narrow drain pipes, creating a nesting point for items such as the previously mentioned egg membranes.

Coffee grounds

While not a major contributor to clogged drains, coffee grounds act as an abrasive which dulls the garbage disposal's blades. They cannot render the blades dull from one occurrence, but can have a cumulative effect over time.

Nut shells

Like coffee grounds, grinding nut shells will have a detrimental effect on disposal blades, but unlike coffee grounds, they remain solid, however small. This makes them perfect building materials for drain clogging.

Napkins or paper towels

Although it may be tempting to just scrape soiled napkins or paper towels into the garbage disposal along with the remnants of a meal, they will not disintegrate in water.

The disposal will just shred them, and as they mix with water and become trapped on an obstruction in a drain pipe, they form a solid immovable clump of paper mâché.

If enough of these items are thrown into the disposal over time, the disposal may need to be removed to be cleaned or repaired and a drain cleaning service called to remove a blockage that can't be budged by the homeowner.

Be kind to your disposal, and it will serve you well. Just remember not to put anything into your disposal that you wouldn't put into your own mouth.

For professional help, contact a company such as 2 Guys Plumbing and Heating Inc.