Don't throw that down the garbage disposal!
Know what not to send down the disposal in order to keep it running smoothly. (Photo by Katie Jacewicz)
The handy kitchen garbage disposal is useful for getting rid of a variety of food scraps and waste that might otherwise create unpleasant smells in the kitchen. However, many foods can actually damage your disposal or render it useless. These tips can help keep your garbage disposal running smoothly.
1. Avoid putting fibrous foods or tough-skinned vegetables into the disposal. The strings of celery, artichokes, asparagus, lettuce, corn husks, carrots, onion skins and potato peels can wrap around the blades, preventing proper operation of the motor. If you feel you must put fibrous foods into your disposal, do so in very small quantities, and run the cold water while you operate the unit.
2. Don't put extremely hard foods into the garbage disposal. Items such as bones and fruit pits can dull and even break the unit's blades. In a worst-case scenario, hard foods will jam the disposal, preventing blades from turning and causing the motor to burn out.
3. Keep grease and greasy foods out of the disposal. Greasy foods will distribute a film over the blades, diminishing their effectiveness. Eventually, the grease will begin to decay, causing an unpleasant odor in the kitchen. Pouring grease into a garbage disposal can result in clogged drains when the grease solidifies.
4. Contrary to popular belief, egg shells have no place in the garbage disposal. Some people claim that egg shells sharpen the blades of the unit, but this is not true. The shell's stringy membrane layer can wrap around the shredder ring, and the shell itself will be ground to a sand-like consistency capable of clogging pipes.
5. Avoid putting expandable foods such as pasta and rice into the garbage disposal. Even small particles of these foods will swell with water and eventually clog the trap.
6. Exercise common sense, and don't put non-food items into the garbage disposal. Avoid the example of homeowners who have placed rubber bands, twist ties, cigarette butts, pull tabs, fabric, sponges and plant clippings into their disposal units. These items cannot break down enough to wash down the drain.
The garbage disposal is a sturdy kitchen appliance; however, even the best model cannot handle unsuitable items. If you run into any problems with your unit, you should seek the help of a licensed plumber. Sign in to Angie’s List to read trusted consumer reviews on highly rated plumbers.