In 1927, architect John W. Hammes from Racine, Wisconsin, introduced the garbage disposal to the world. This new invention, which went to market in 1938, gave homeowners the ability to chop up large bits of food waste to easily pass through plumbing.
Unfortunately, since the disposal’s first introduction, people have been putting all kinds of things down the drain, but the disposal was not designed for all forms of waste. Let’s take a look at some things that you should never put down your garbage disposal.
1. Grease, Oil, or Fat
Oil, grease, and hot, liquid fats shouldn’t even go down your drain much less your garbage disposal. When hot oils cool down, they harden and solidify in your drain. Aside from clogging your drain, pouring grease into your sink isn’t particularly eco-friendly. That oil eventually makes its way to major waterways, interfering with plants, fish, and wildlife. Either dump your oil in the trash or find somewhere nearby that recycles the oil for use in biofuel.
2. Starchy, Stringy Vegetables
Celery, rhubarb, asparagus, artichokes, chard, kale, lettuce, potato peels, and other stringy, fibrous, starchy veggies should be kept out of your disposal unit. They aren’t easily broken down by the disposal. On the contrary, they can easily wrap around the disposal’s blade, causing extra resistance and eventually leading to clogs.
However, this also depends on the type of garbage disposal you have. Certain disposals, like some InSinkErator models, have the power and blades to take care of these veggies without a problem.
3. Pasta and Rice
Even if they’ve been broken down by the disposal, pasta and rice expand when they come in contact with water. That means every time you turn on your tap the bits of rice and spaghetti that still remain in your disposal continue to expand. This either causes clogs or fills up your disposal trap.
4. Coffee Grounds
They seem to go down perfectly fine, and many people swear that coffee grounds can help your drain stay clean. Besides, how much trouble could a few tiny particles cause? As it turns out, a lot. Those grounds clump together, forming a rough, impenetrable sediment that clogs your system and causes damage to your plumbing.
Instead of throwing it down the drain, add your coffee grounds to the compost or sprinkle it around your garden. Coffee stimulates your plants and repels slugs, ants, and other pests.
5. Paper Garbage
Contrary to the name, don’t throw garbage down the garbage disposal. That includes scraps of paper, paper towels, cotton balls, wipes, and scrub pads. While toilet paper breaks down in water, paper towels and most other paper products are designed specifically to withstand that kind of punishment. That means clogged pipes and backed up sewer systems.
So what can you put down your garbage disposal? Pretty much anything else. Cooked meat scraps, fruit scraps, and grains can generally go down fairly easily. Citrus rinds can also keep your garbage disposal clean and smelling fresh. As a general rule of thumb, don’t put anything in your garbage disposal that doesn’t biodegrade easily. That should keep your disposal operating properly for years to come.