7 Things You Should Never Put Down the Garbage Disposal

January 6, 2020

Garbage disposals are a handy convenience. We throw our food particles into the great abyss and flip a switch so that they disappear forever. But we become so accustomed to a working garbage disposal that we may forget its intended use.

We rush in from a muddy Colorado hike and wash our dirt-caked arms off in the kitchen sink. Or, we accidentally let an avocado pit slip down the drain. And suddenly, our disposals sound like roaring dragons. We’re faced with troubleshooting the issues and the headache of repairs.

How can we be more diligent and avoid a call to the local garbage disposal repair service? Here’s a list of seven things to never put down the garbage disposal.

Related: Troubleshooting Common Garbage Disposal Problems

1. Never Put Grease in the Garbage Disposal

I still have vivid memories of my mom yelling at us about dumping grease. Perhaps grease seems like an obvious “no-no”. But absent-minded moments can cause a random dump of a greasy frying pan down the garbage disposal.

The purpose of the disposal is to break down foods and liquid into small particles. The particles then travel down the drain and into the pipes. Grease cannot be broken down and quickly builds up. It can coat and clog your pipes.

Grease may not only affect your garbage disposal but can wreak havoc on your plumbing. Many a grandma has saved grease in a mason jar to use as lard in delicious dishes! What a great way to recycle and save your plumbing.

2. Bones are a No-No in Disposal

Bone fragments should be dumped in the trash, or used in compost piles. Whether you dump chicken wings or turkey wishbones down your garbage disposal, they will not break down enough to flow through your pipes.

Regardless of how small and fragile bones are, your disposal’s blades will not disintegrate them. The bones will catch on the blades and are challenging to extract. Bones can break the disposal’s motor, rendering it useless.

3. Coffee Grounds & Dirt

If you dump wet or dry coffee grounds down the garbage disposal, they will seemingly disappear. However, these pesky particles stick to the sides of the disposal unit and don’t make it to the pipes. Over time, the grounds will build up.

Water and other liquids will turn the coffee particles into sludge. The thick sediment builds up and blocks pipes, causing major plumbing issues. Ditto for significant dirt dumped from flower pots or washed-off of hands.

And you don’t have to toss grounds in the garbage either. Remember that as compost is an earth-friendly process, coffee grounds are an excellent addition to your compost pile.

4. Pasta and Rice

It’s easy to forget slippery pasta and rice that slither down our garbage disposals. A few noodles escape the colander and jump down the drain. Cooked or dry, these grains will expand due to the moisture and heat found in drains. Regardless of shape or size, pasta and rice can gather at the bottom of the disposal motor and jam the blades.  Scrape the rice and pasta remains into the trash, never put down the garbage disposal.

5. Onion Skins

Onions are trickier. The inside of an onion is fine for the garbage disposal. Don’t stress over diced onions that fall into the sink.

Conversely, the thin onion skin is not okay. The onion’s membrane is so thin that issues arise when it slides past the whirling blades and sticks itself to the sides of your pipes. Over time significant amounts of onion skins will clog pipes and create problems.

6. Nuts

“Oh, nuts!” is an appropriate exclamation after chucking these snacks down the drain. The garbage disposal blades won’t have an issue grinding up nuts, and that is when the problem arises. Ground-up nuts mixed with various discarded liquids will form a thick, peanut butter-like paste. The paste can create holes in the disposal canister or the pipes.

7. Fruit Pits

Avocados, peaches, and plums are delicious. After you’ve devoured them, where should you put the pits? It may look appealing to throw pits down the garbage disposal, but don’t do it! The blades will not cut through fruit pits. Pits can bend or break the blades and may get caught in their journey through pipes.

Similar to coffee grounds, fruit pits are an excellent source for compost.


So, the items likely to damage your garbage disposal may seem extensive. There’s good news, though! Most food particles are fine to put down the garbage disposal.

Avoid replacement costs or significant plumbing overhauls. Reserve your drain for sauces and small bites of leftover food. And remember that when in doubt, throw it out!

When problems do arise, Reliable Appliance Repair in Colorado Springs is just a phone call away. We have a proven track record as the best appliance repair shop in Colorado Springs. As a family-owned business, honesty and personal care are vital to us. Call us 24 hours a day. 7 days a week.