The handy kitchen garbage disposal is useful for getting rid of a variety of food scraps and waste that might otherwise create unpleasant smells in the kitchen. However, many foods can actually damage your disposal or render it useless.
A common misunderstanding about garbage disposals is that the device includes “blades,” when in actuality it contains a ring of teeth-like shredders that grind the food and force it down the drain. While there’s no real way to sharpen these shredders (which are still often referred to as blades), keeping them clean is key to an efficient garbage disposal.
Avoid putting these things down your garbage disposal to help keep it running smoothly.
The strings of celery, artichokes, asparagus, lettuce, corn husks, carrots, onion skins, and potato peels can wrap around the grinding teeth, preventing proper operation of the motor. If you feel you must put fibrous foods into your disposal, do so in very small quantities, and run cold water before, during, and after operating the unit.
Grease, Fats, and Oils
Greasy foods will distribute a film over the shredding teeth, diminishing their effectiveness. Eventually, the grease will begin to decay, causing an unpleasant odor in the kitchen. Pouring grease into a garbage disposal can result in clogged drains when the grease solidifies (regardless of how much hot water you use).
Some people claim that egg shells sharpen the blades of the unit, but this is not true. The shells’ stringy membrane layers can wrap around the shredder ring, and the shell itself will be ground to a sand-like consistency capable of clogging pipes.
Pasta, Rice, Potatoes, and Beans
Even small particles of these foods will swell with water to form a paste-like substance, and eventually clog the trap.
Avoid the example of homeowners who have placed rubber bands, twist ties, cigarette butts, pull tabs, fabric, sponges, and plant clippings into their disposal units. These items cannot break down enough to wash down the drain.
The garbage disposal is a sturdy kitchen appliance. However, even the best model cannot handle unsuitable items. If you run into any problems with your unit, you should seek the help of a licensed plumber.