What can you put in a garbage disposal?

Have you had a garbage disposal break on you, experienced clogged drains, and as a result, received an expensive plumbing bill? Chances are something was inserted down the disposal or drain that wasn’t supposed to be.

To ensure you’re operating your garbage disposal properly, go through this list of what you CAN and CAN NOT put in a garbage disposal.

The most important rule of all: DO NOT PUT ANYTHING IN THE GARBAGE DISPOSAL THAT IS NOT BIODEGRADABLE FOOD. Despite its name, a garbage disposal is not a garbage can but for food scraps only. Anything that is not food will break your garbage disposal.

Here’s what you CAN put:

  • Small chicken bones
  • Fish bones
  • Egg shells
  • Small fruit pits
  • Citrus (orange, lemon, lime, etc.) peel – also recommended to remove odor
  • Potato peel – only small amounts so as not to cause impeller arms to stick since it turns into a starchy paste

Here’s what you CAN NOT put:

  • Cigarette butts
  • Metal, plastic, paper, glass
  • Combustible items
  • Grease, oil, fat
  • Corn husks, celery stalk, onion skins, artichokes – these fibrous vegetables will just tangle your garbage disposal, jam the motor, and clog drains. Avoid all stringy vegetables.
  • Pasta, rice, other starchy foods – these will expand with water cause clogs
  • Coffee grounds – okay in certain disposals, but we recommend limited amounts
  • Harsh chemicals (bleach or drain cleaners) – they can damage the impeller and pipes
  • Rings, jewelry, utensils, coins
  • When in doubt, throw it out!

In some cases, your garbage disposal can handle things that other garbage disposals can’t. For example, you can grind artichokes and rib bones in some models but not in others. We recommend checking with your user’s manual and following what it says you can and cannot put.