What You Should and Shouldn't Put Down Your Garbage Disposal

A home garbage disposal is a handy kitchen tool. It helps reduce landfill waste and makes cleanup after meals a lot easier. In addition, there are no sink traps to constantly clean of accumulated food particles. While a garbage disposal makes kitchen cleanup easier, there are many things that should never go down the garbage disposal. The list of suitable things that can be put down the disposal is equally long, so you'll get plenty of use out of it. Before you use it for the first time, understand the proper function of the garbage disposal so you don't end up with costly repairs and/or a ruined unit. 

What to Put down the Garbage Disposal

Not just any foodstuff should go down the garbage disposal, but a wide variety of things can. Most vegetable ends and byproducts are safe, whether cooked or raw. There are some exceptions to this, though, that will be covered shortly. Likewise, raw, cooked or canned fruits are safe for the garbage disposal. Citrus rinds are okay, as is all fruit flesh. Cooked grains such as millet, oats and barley and cooked legumes are safe. Vegetable or otherwise meatless soups are okay to send down the drain. Noodles and vegetarian sauces are okay, although be careful about how much cooking oil goes into the unit. Anything soft and/or cooked like grits, oatmeal, cereal or mashed potatoes can be pulverized with a disposal unit. Coffee grounds and egg shells are also okay to put down. 

What Not to Put down It

By contrast, a lot of organic things should never go down the garbage disposal. First, though, it has to be pointed out that only food and food byproducts should go down a garbage disposal. Never put paper, wood or any other material down a garbage disposal. You risk ruining the machine if you do. As far as food is concerned, meat, skin, bones and lard should not be put through the disposal ever. The blade may get clogged or dulled as a result. Bones will likely cause it to jam and require repair. Certain fruit and vegetable byproducts should not go down a disposal either. These include apple seeds, banana peels and pits from fruit. Other hard fruit seeds should be left out as well. Anything extremely fibrous should be excluded, as well as hard rinds, including coconut shells and pineapple shoots. Onion skin may not grind very well and eventually amass, so it should be avoided. Popcorn should not be put down the disposal, especially unpopped kernels. 

Vegetable Waste

Some people decide to use their vegetable ends and other scraps to make broth. Not only will this net you a delicious usable broth for soups later on, but it will soften up hard vegetable matter which will then be easily disposed of. If you have a compost pile, you will use your garbage disposal very little, considering that almost all food waste will break down and provide nutrients to the eventual compost. 

As with any tool, read the directions on your garbage disposal unit before you start stuffing everything down it. While many foods and food byproducts are suitable for garbage disposal, just as many aren't.