The garbage disposal is an innovation most homeowners are grateful for. Maybe you’ve been stuck with a sink with no garbage disposal in the past, and you know the struggle of the smelly garbage can, the sludge built up in a sink drain cover, and the annoyance of clogged drains. But with a garbage disposal, these are all in the past…as long as you use yours properly.
That means caring for your disposal properly and ensuring that it’s running smoothly. Unfortunately, many people think they are properly caring for the disposal, when instead they are allowing harmful items to make their way into the drain or block up the disposal. Here are some items you should never allow to pass down the drains (if you can help it).
Hard Foods/Non Foods
Here’s a loose rule about which food items belong in the garbage disposal: if you couldn’t chew it with your own teeth, it goes in the trash! Now, there are some exceptions to this rule, as you’ll see below, and even some foods you can chew still don’t belong in the drains. But as a starting point, and perhaps as the most important rule for your garbage disposal, hard food items like these do not go in the drains:
- Fruit pits
- Seeds and shells
- Meat bones
- Plastic and paper wrappers
Stringy foods, otherwise known as fibrous foods and food scraps, include things like potato peels, celery, asparagus, and onion skins. These may seem harmless, but they can easily get wrapped around the garbage disposal, stopping up the motor and jamming the mechanism. If you must put these down the drain, chop them into small bits first, but it’s better to avoid the damage altogether and throw these in the trash.
Pasta and Rice
Of course, a garbage disposal could easily break up and grind down cooked pasta and rice. However, that doesn’t mean you want these items in your drains. Pasta and rice are known as expandable foods because they grow with water. It might surprise you to hear how often pasta and rice have been found to be the enlarged culprits stopping up drains!
Fats, Oils, and Grease
Fats, oils, and grease are some of a plumber’s worst enemies. These substances pour down the drain like liquid, but they can quickly cool down in pipes and become a coagulated solid which other debris sticks to. Keep a separate container for these substances and do your best to dispose of fats, oils, and grease properly after cooking meat and other greasy meals.
Don’t get us started on coffee grounds. We know how easy it is to dump coffee grounds down the drain after making your morning cup. However, this sand-like substance just clumps together and is a common source of drain backup.
Chemical Drain Cleaner
It seems like an easy solution to your clogged drains, but it can actually complicate things quite a bit. Chemical drain cleaners found on store shelves are simply not the ideal solution to your clogs. They are toxic, first and foremost, but they also cause major damage to the lining of the pipes. They can also damage your garbage disposal so that you have to replace it sooner than expected.