Most of us think of a garbage disposal as a sort of black magic blender that lives under the sink. Shove anything into it, and it automatically gets chewed into tiny bits that are then washed away into your pipes.
While that is true to a certain extent, a garbage disposal also has many moving parts. And while they have tough names that would match with the WWE—shredder ring, we’re talking about you—they’re all kind of, well, delicate. Shove stuff into your garbage disposal that doesn’t belong there, and you can dull the blades, jam the flywheel, clog your drain … you get the picture.
Many of these scenarios can lead to a costly repair or replacement, and a gross, wet pile of goo sitting in your drain.
To treat your hard-working garbage D right, read through this list of items you should never, ever put in it.
1. Nonfood Items
Let’s start with the most obvious: “A garbage disposal is supposed to grind food waste, not man-made materials,” says Doyle James, president of Mr. Rooter Plumbing, a Neighborly company.
Some items that he knows people have tried (and failed) to dispose of through their InSinkErator? Cigarette butts, glass, plastic, paper. Even metal.
If you have the urge to experiment, maybe get a Ninja blender instead.
2. Chicken wings, fish, or any other type of bones
But even some food items should not go down your drain. Take, for instance, chicken wings. Yes, they’re a great party food, but not great for your garbage disposal.
It seems like an obvious no-no, but “some people think that certain bones, such as small fish or chicken bones, will clean a garbage disposal’s walls when they’re being ground up,” James shares.
Maybe it’s a hack that’s so weird it might work, right? But that’s just not the case.
“Most bones will simply spin in the unit until they slip past the blades and clog your drain,” James says.
3. Veggie peelings
Healthy for humans doesn’t necessarily translate into “healthy” for your garbage disposal. Peelings from fibrous vegetables such as carrots, celery, and asparagus are a definite no-no.
“The stringy pieces can wrap around the blades and get stuck, causing your sink to back up,” cautions Audrey Monell, president of Forrest Anderson Plumbing and AC in Phoenix,
Toss them in the garbage or, better yet, compost them instead.
Watch: Surprising Things You Can Put in the Dishwasher—and What You Can’t
4. Coffee grounds
“Coffee grounds are already small, meaning there isn’t much a garbage disposal can do to reduce their size further,” James points out.
So what’s the harm in dropping them into your disposal drain? When you do, they typically fall below the unit’s shredders and form a sludge that can clog your drain over time, James says.
Instead, work coffee grounds into the soil around your outdoor plants. Their acidity makes them excellent material for fertilizer.
5. Cooking oil or grease
Although it’s just so easy to pour bacon grease down your drain and speed your cleanup, beware: It makes a massive mess you—and the rest of the world—will have to deal with later.
“Grease, oils, and other fatty substances often spread a film over a disposal’s blades, which will make them less effective at reducing food waste,” James says. “As time passes, the grease and fat you put into your garbage disposal will decay, cause an unpleasant smell, and clog your drain.”
Plus, you’re contributing to “fatbergs,” congealed masses of oil, grease, and debris that are showing up in sewer systems around the world. If left unchecked, these troublesome piles of gunk occasionally shoot out of toilets and sinks in “Ghostbusters” fashion.
Help save the world from being slimed and put any oil or grease in a can, leave it in the fridge to get cold, then toss it into the garbage.
6. Pasta and rice
Here’s one that’ll make your head spin. What’s wrong with soft stuff like pasta and rice? Well, think what happens when you cook these dried grains in water: They expand.
“These foods can continue to expand in your garbage disposal every time they come into contact with water,” James says. “If this happens, they can clog your drain or block your disposal’s trap.”
The right way to care for your garbage disposal
Remember, too: Your garbage disposal isn’t self-cleaning. While it shouldn’t require regular maintenance from a plumber, there are a few things you can do to keep yours working well.
- Clean it. “Try treating your disposal on a monthly basis with a vinegar and baking soda mix to remove buildup and bacteria issues,” suggests Don Glovan, a franchise consultant with Mr. Rooter Plumbing. Combine a half-cup vinegar and half-cup baking soda, then add the mixture to your disposal. (Make sure it’s turned off first.) Let it sit until the foaming stops, then rinse and drain with water.
- Degrease it. Sure, now you know not to put grease down your drain, but maybe you didn’t know that last night when you made BLTs for dinner. To stop fats and oils from clogging your disposal’s drain holes, drop in a few chunks of lemon, Glovan suggests. “They’re a natural degreaser.”
- Water it. “Cold water is essential to the safe operation of your garbage disposal,” Glovan says. Use lots of it. Run your tap for a few seconds before and after you dispose of any solid food.
The post Trash Talk: 6 Things You Should Never Put in the Garbage Disposal appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.