The Do’s and Don’ts of Your Garbage Disposal

A garbage disposal can be a lifesaver in the kitchen, but if this handy, small appliance is not properly maintained, it can also be quite a headache. Despite the name, your garbage disposal should not really "dispose all" of your household trash. It may be a powerful household appliance, but as any plumbing contractor will tell you, a garbage disposal can only take so much punishment.

What follows is a list of how to care for your disposal and when you might need to contact a residential plumbing professional.


  1. Do run cold water every time you use the disposal. This practice helps to prevent the melting and hardening of oily substances that could build up and eventually clog the disposal drain.
  2. Do cut large food items into smaller pieces before put them down the disposal.
  3. Do grind citrus rinds, such as lemon peels, to keep your garbage disposal smelling fresh.
  4. Do clean your appliance with baking soda and vinegar.
  5. Do remember to only ever put biodegradable materials down your disposal.
  6. Do avoid putting stringy foods like banana peel down the garbage disposal.
    Do be sure to call a plumbing contractor when in doubt!


  1. Don't grind any non-food items such as leather, china, glass, string, feathers, and so on.
  2. Don't put anything combustible (including cigarette butts!) down your garbage disposal.
  3. Don't allow your disposal to sit idle for too long. You should run it regularly to keep it in good condition and to prevent bacteria growth in the appliance.
  4. Don't put a large amount of food down the garbage disposal.
  5. Don't put greasy foods down the garbage disposal. (That means absolutely no bacon grease, oils, or cooking fat!)
    Don't put hard foods, such as bones, down the garbage disposal.
  6. Don't put eggshells or onion skins in your machine. (Their thin membranes can stick to the sides of the disposal and wrap around the shredder ring.)
  7. Don't grind pasta or rice. (Why? Both of these expand when they meet water, so they will clog up your appliance over time.)
  8. Don't put coffee grounds down the garbage disposal. (Compost them instead!)

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