It eliminates food waste and odor with the flip of a switch, but your hardworking garbage disposal can’t grind everything away. What foods should not go in the garbage disposal? Starches like rice and potatoes can cause troublesome clogs. Use this list of what not to put in a garbage disposal to avoid malfunctions and maintain it with tips for proper upkeep.

To Dispose or Not to Dispose: What Foods Should Not Go in the Garbage Disposal?

Garbage disposal etiquette is about more than just keeping your disposal clean. Being judicious in your use can avoid harm and keep it grinding for years to come. Along with the right maintenance, our list of what foods should not go in the garbage disposal can prevent breaks and blockages.

1. Rice & Pasta

Surprisingly, soft foods like rice, pasta, and potatoes top the list of what can’t go in a garbage disposal. These starchy items swell when exposed to water, causing blockages that can create clogs and backups. While a few small scraps of pasta or rice shouldn’t be a problem, scrape large amounts into the trash.

2. Egg Shells

What shouldn’t go in a garbage disposal despite popular belief? While many say that eggshells clean disposal blades, they have the potential to do more harm than good. Each shell contains a thin membrane that can easily get caught around the disposal’s impeller or collect in the drain, causing clogs. If you want to clean your blades, a few ice cubes can do it safely without risking damage.

what can't go in a garbage disposal

3. Grease

While grease is more of a byproduct than a food, it’s all too easy to dispose of this fatty liquid down the disposal. But when grease cools, it coagulates into a thick solid that can quickly cause disposal and drain clogs as it accumulates. Instead, allow the grease to cool and pour it into a large can. When the can is full, dispose of it in the trash.

4. Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds also belong on a list of what foods should not go in the garbage disposal. When the grounds are mixed with water, they form a wet paste that can quickly clog the drain. As with pasta and grains, a small amount will likely have no effect but a coffee filter full of grounds should be disposed of in the trash.

5. Nuts

One small nut couldn’t possibly be a problem, right? Again, while one nut shouldn’t jeopardize your disposal, several or more could spell disaster. This is because the dispenser’s grinding motion releases the nuts’ oils, forming a thick paste (similar to peanut butter) that causes clogs. To be safe, most garbage disposal tips recommend putting any nuts in the trash.

Disposal Maintenance Tips

Knowing what foods should not go in the disposal is just half the battle to maintain this helpful tool. With the right cleaning and upkeep, you can prolong the life of your disposal.

These garbage disposal maintenance tips can optimize its performance and lifespan:

  • Clean regularly: What can you put in your garbage disposal to clean and disinfect it? Grind several ice cubes followed by citrus peels to clean the blades and deodorize.
  • Operate with cold water: Running water with the disposal helps flush the drain as it operates. Leaving it on for 15 seconds after it’s done grinding can also ensure that the drain is clear. Always use cold water, as hot water can coagulate grease and fatty foods, causing clogs. 
  • Dispose in small amounts: Try to load your disposal slowly, feeding it small amounts at a time. This helps the blade fully process every item, ensuring that it drains.

From what foods should not go in the garbage disposal to washing machine dos and don’ts, we have all your appliance answers. Call Solar Appliance Service for any kitchen appliance repair or concern.