Chances are, you use your garbage disposal every day. Having a disposal in your kitchen sink can be a massive convenience when cooking and doing dishes. A garbage disposal can save you time and mess, as long as you use it properly.

What Is a Garbage Disposal?

A garbage disposal is a machine mounted to the underside of your kitchen sink. It is connected to the drain so that everything that gets washed down your kitchen drain goes through the disposal. The disposal has blades and teeth that pulverize food and other items that run through it. The blades and teeth sit inside a reservoir for safety and function. To use the garbage disposal, flip a switch to turn the machine on before running water to wash debris down the drain. Everything that goes through your garbage disposal then goes through your pipes and out of the house through your plumbing system.

Items Safe for the Garbage Disposal

Your garbage disposal allows you to flush certain food items down the drain rather than throwing them in the trash. Using a garbage disposal will mean that you have a smaller volume of compostable material in your trash. It also cuts down leftover food odors in your kitchen. However, you must be careful what you put down the drain and run through your disposal. Some foods are safe for garbage disposals. On the flip side, some foods and non-food items should never be flushed through the garbage disposal. Read on to learn what foods can go down the drain with a garbage disposal.

Ice Cubes

Running ice cubes down the drain and through your garbage disposal is beneficial. The hard chunks of ice help clean your disposal by pushing food around and scraping residue from the sides of the reservoir. In fact, many experts recommend ice cubes as a preferred method of cleaning your garbage disposal.

Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, and oranges are excellent for garbage disposals. Tossing a few pieces of fruit down the drain helps freshen the smell of your disposal, ridding it of foul food odors. Citric acid in rinds can break down grease. Be careful to remove the peels and rinds or cut them into small pieces before putting them down the drain. Fruit peels can overwork your disposal if they are too large.

Liquids and Soft Foods

Most liquids and soft foods are safe for the garbage disposal and plumbing. Along with water, these food items flush through without clogging your drain. Read through the list of off-limit food items, though. Some soft foods can be deceptive and should not go through the garbage disposal. Please note that hot liquid grease is not included in this category.

Dish Soap and Cold Water

Cleaning the garbage disposal is as simple as flushing cold, soapy water down the drain. Turn on the cold water, turn on the disposal, and add a few drops of dish soap. As it spins around in the disposal, it will clean the inside of the reservoir and the blades.

Things You Cannot Put Down the Garbage Disposal

Some food and non-food items can wreak havoc on your disposal. Avoid these dangerous items and toss them in the trash.

Grease, Oil, and Fat

Experienced plumbers agree that hot grease, oil, and fat are the number one cause of blocked pipes. Even though these are liquids, they are not safe for your plumbing. As these hot liquids cool, they harden. This hard lard forms a mass in your garbage disposal and pipes, blocking water and other waste from getting through. Rather than pour these liquids down the drain, pour them into a jar. Once the jar has cooled, toss it in the trash for safe disposal.

Although not quite the same as pouring hot oil down the drain, oily foods can have the same devastating effects. The oil from these food items can linger in the drain or the garbage disposal, creating a clog as it builds up. Toss your oily foods in the trash or compost.

Animal Bones

Animal bones are hard and irregular in shape. The bones are also jagged sometimes. Putting bones through the garbage disposal makes your machine work much harder than intended. The bones may also damage your pipes from sharp edges and become stuck. When bones get stuck, they collect other food waste and plug your pipes, requiring emergency plumbing services.

Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds are a sneaky little culprit for causing problems in your pipes. Grounds may seem harmless, but they clump together when flushed with water. They do not dissolve or float apart as you might expect. When the grounds clump up in the disposal or pipes, they create a high risk for clogs and blockages.

Flour and Breads

Flour clumps and forms a mass when mixed with water. You may have even used it to make craft glue as a child. Flushing flour or bread down the drain raises the risk of creating a ball of dough in the disposal. Toss flour and breads in the trash to avoid a mess.


A terrible misconception is that eggshells sharpen the blades of the garbage disposal. However, this is not a good idea. Sticky membranes line the inside of eggshells. This substance sticks to the components inside the disposal, creating harder working conditions. Eggshell linings may also linger and collect other food items, forming a clog.

Celery and Other Fibrous Vegetables

Fibrous strands from vegetables can wrap around the blades and other parts of the garbage disposal, creating a tangled mess. Eventually, the tangled strings may slow down your disposal or cause the motor to burn up. Vegetables are an excellent option for composting or tossing outside for the wild critters to munch on.


What is obvious to some is not always clear to others. You may think it silly that people would even think of putting trash down the drain, but some do. Wrappers and fruit stickers are the most common trash items flushed down the sink. These items may get stuck as they go through, creating a mess. Always throw trash in the garbage.


Chemicals, even those marketed for plumbing, should be avoided. Drain cleaners and unclogging agents are not ideal for your pipes as they are harsh. These chemicals can cause the garbage disposal to weaken over time and may erode your pipes. If you have a clog, call a professional plumber to clear your pipes.

Knowing the dos and don’ts of your garbage disposal helps your device last longer and eliminates the need for emergency plumbing services. For garbage disposal installation and repairs, count on A/C Doctors to send you expert plumbers. In addition, we handle many other home services in Gilbert including heating, air conditioning, and plumbing.

Need garbage disposal services in Gilbert? Call A/C Doctors today and enjoy smooth-flowing plumbing in your kitchen sink.

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