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How to Know What's OK to Put Down a Garbage Disposal

Garbage disposals are convenient but, if you're not careful, they can become clogged, break, and back up. Learn what's safe to put down the drain.


  • Step 1: Fruit and vegetables Put most fruit and vegetable byproducts down your disposal. Raw, cooked, and canned fruit and vegetables are easily ground, as long as you cut up large or particularly hard pieces, such as onion and carrot ends, before putting them into the unit.
  • TIP: Cut tough, stringy, or fibrous vegetables, such as asparagus, celery, and potato peels, into small pieces to avoid a clog.
  • Step 2: Cut citrus, avoid seeds Cut citrus rinds into small pieces before putting them into your disposal or they will dull the blades. Avoid all seeds, including cherry stones, apple seeds, and citrus seeds.
  • TIP: Always run water while you run the disposal.
  • Step 3: Grains and beans Feel safe putting grains, such as millet, oats, cooked oatmeal, and cereal, as well as cooked beans, into your garbage disposal.
  • Step 4: Avoid rice and pasta Avoid putting rice and pasta into the disposal. They may be soft, but they absorb water. The starches won't break down enough and will end up clogging your drain.
  • TIP: Occasionally grind ice in your disposal. Ice will freeze stuck particles and help wash them down the drain.
  • Step 5: Meat and seafood Feel safe putting meat down the disposal, but be careful of raw or rare meat that is sinewy -- and never put bones in the unit. Bones will jam the blades and can break your disposal. Avoid raw fish skin and shrimp or lobster shells as well.
  • Step 6: Coffee grounds Put coffee grounds in the disposal a little at a time -- never a whole basketful. While coffee grounds are already small and soft, they can clog the trap in large amounts.
  • Step 7: Eggshells Feel comfortable putting eggshells into the disposal. They break into tiny pieces and flush away if you run plenty of water while you're running the disposal.
  • Step 8: Grease, oil, and lard Keep grease, oil, or lard out of your disposal. Although they'll go down the drain, they're likely to congeal and clog the trap or else clog your plumbing.
  • Step 9: Read the directions Read the manufacturer's recommendations for the care and maintenance of your unit and it will stay in good working order for years.
  • FACT: John W. Hammes invented the kitchen garbage disposal in 1927.

You Will Need

  • Manufacturer's recommendations
  • Ice (optional)

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