Do’s and Don’ts of What to Put in the Garbage Disposal

Your garbage disposal is an amazingly handy piece of equipment that can virtually make food messes disappear in just a few gruff coughs of the machine. In fact, it’s almost fun to feed all manner of substances into the appliance’s hungry mouth just to watch them disappear. The only problem is that your garbage disposal isn’t as omnivorous as it may seem, and feeding it the wrong things can result in costly plumbing and drain emergencies. Fortunately, learning the do’s and don’ts of garbage disposal ownership is easy. Once you have a few concepts under your belt, you can drastically minimize the chances of needing plumbing or garbage disposal repair.

Garbage Disposal Do’s

  • Keep your garbage disposal clean. After washing dishes, put a few drops of dish soap in the disposal and run it with cold water for a minute or so. This will clear out most of the gunk that might otherwise harden and accumulate.
  • At least once a month, put several ice cubes in your disposal. They serve to safely clean and scour all parts of the unit effectively.
  • Use it frequently. This keeps all of the parts moving and prevents the build-up of corrosion, rust and obstructions.
  • When grinding food items, always use cold water on a strong setting throughout the process. This will cause any grease to solidify and be pulverized before it reaches the trap.
  • Feel free to grind certain items such as fish and chicken bones, small fruit pits and egg shells. Doing so helps to clean and scour the walls of your garbage disposal.
  • Before grinding, cut items into small pieces. Feeding the disposal in moderate amounts reduces the chance of clogs.

Garbage Disposal Don’ts

  • Don’t treat your disposal like a trash receptacle. Never attempt to grind non-biodegradable items such as paper, glass, plastic, metal or paper – even paper towels or cigarette butts.
  • Never pour fat, oil or grease into the unit. Over time, they will clog its operation.
  • Don’t grind corn husks, celery, artichokes, onion skins or other extremely fibrous materials. If you do, their fibers can block your drain and get wrapped around the motor of the disposal.
  • Only turn the motor off when the disposal has finished grinding. Then let cold water run for at least 15 seconds to ensure that all particles have been flushed out.
  • Keep potato peels to a minimum. The starch in them can turn into a gooey paste that can cause the blades to get stuck.
  • If a food item is expandable in water, don’t put it in your disposal. This includes foods such as pasta and rice, which prove to be the culprits in many plumbing emergencies.
  • Avoid grinding large animal bones.
  • Don’t put coffee grounds into your disposal. Although they are actually good for the appliance’s mechanism, they can lead to clogged pipes and drains.
  • Never use bleach or other harsh drain-cleaning chemicals on your disposal. Borax, a natural product, cleans and sanitizes your sink without the potential of damaging blades or pipes.

There may have been a time when you didn’t have a garbage disposal. However, once you got one, you probably soon began to wonder how you ever lived without it. If you follow these easy tips, you can expect your virtually indispensable garbage disposal to perform well for many years.

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