What Not to Put in Garbage Disposal? 15 Things to Leave Out

black kitchen sink with indoor plants

Wondering what not to put in the garbage disposal? Good! This should be something more people should consider, as many households view their garbage disposal (garburator) like they do their trash can: a receptacle for any and all materials.

Just like it’s important to know what can (and cannot) go in your kitchen composter, it’s equally valuable to know what foods not to put in a garbage disposal. Sure, garbage disposals make the post-dinner cleanup a little easier, but when the wrong food waste or hard materials are added, it can be disastrous. Not to worry, we’ll help you to avoid this by covering the following:

We’ll also cut to the chase and mention that an electric kitchen composter like the Lomi is one of the best ways to handle food scraps without having to worry about a clogged drain or broken garbage disposal. Until you receive yours, this blog will cover what most garbage disposals can and cannot handle. 


What can you put down a garbage disposal?

fruits and vegetables with hard casings

Before we get to all of the things not to put in a garbage disposal, let’s explore all of the items that can safely be put through the garburator.

For those asking, what can you put down a garbage disposal, a few key food types come to mind: lemons, ice cubes, and egg shells. While the first two are okay for your garbage disposal, waste from your omelet is not (more on this later).

Can you put orange peels down the garbage disposal? Yes! Along with lemons and limes, oranges and their peels can help to clean the disposal while helping your drain smell better. However, you may want to chop up the fruits and their peels into small pieces before adding them.

How else can you clean it—can you put Drano down a garbage disposal? The answer is yes, but as a good rule of thumb, it’s advisable to read all instructions on the Drano package before doing so. Most Drano products are a safe way to unclog a drain and dislodge any clogged up grease, but some are not.

Surely there are more things that can safely be put down a garbage disposal, right? Unfortunately, not too many. Here’s a list of a few other items that get a thumbs up from plumbing experts.


Items that can go down the garbage disposal

Citrus fruits and peels

Ice cubes

Soup (without bones)

Vegetables (chopped, without peels)

Yogurt and applesauce

Fruits (chopped, without pits or large seeds)

Soft or liquid foods (if it’s soft enough for a baby, it’s likely soft enough for your garbage disposal)


Keep your drains clean & clear: 15 things not to put down a garbage disposal

coffee grounds in pour-over coffee maker

Curious about what not to put in the garbage disposal? Just like there are items that the garbage disposal motor can handle, there are also a few things you should never put down your garbage disposal. Here, we’ll answer a few common questions people have about what might damage your disposal’s blades and plumbing system.  


Item

Notes

Eggshells

33% of Americans think egg shells can be put down the garbage disposal, but that’s a myth because they can damage the impellers and cause a clog. 

Coffee grounds

Unfortunately for caffeine addicts, coffee grounds clump together and can block drains.

Grease 

Grease and fat can slowly accumulate in the plumbing pipes, eventually hardening and causing blockages.

Banana peels 

Banana peels take about 2 years to decompose, so they’ll linger in your garbage disposal for a long time—if they don’t damage the blades first. 

Potato peels 

Because of their starch content, potato peels can end up gunking up a garbage disposal. 

Rice 

Rice and other starchy grains (pasta, oats, bread, etc.) absorb water and can create a sticky, clogging thick paste. 

Chicken bones 

Aside from very small bones, animal bones are too hard and will just spin around the system, leading to damage in the grinding mechanisms. 

Meat 

Whole chunks of meat and things like chicken skin might get stuck in the pipes and lead to clogs. 

Oil

If it doesn’t lead to clogs, oil can act as a lubricant, effectively rendering the blades ineffective. 

Shrimp shells 

Seafood shells in general can damage the blades and lead to plumbing clogs. 

Fibrous vegetables and fruits 

You should avoid putting things like corn husks or onion skins in a garbage disposal, as they’ll get tangled up in the blades.

Starchy vegetables 

Starchy foods are generally a no-no as they’ll turn into mush that may clog the disposal. 

Watermelon rinds 

Like fruit pits, the rinds of watermelon are too hard and may damage the blades of your garbage disposal. 

Nuts and seeds 

Nuts and seeds are too hard to be effectively ground by the garbage disposal, and may lead to clogs.

Non-food items 

Garbage like paper towels, latex paint, and plastic wrappers shouldn’t be put in the garbage disposal as they might clog the system. 


 

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How to properly use a garbage disposal

cold water running from kitchen tap

Think using the garbage disposal is as simple as flipping the switch? Think again. It’s always best to use cold water while running the garbage disposal, as hot water may liquify fat or grease, allowing it to flow easily—until it reaches the drain where it will harden and lead to clogs. Similarly, using no water at all may also lead to a clog.

If you accidentally send oily salad scraps down the drain or wash a pan with animal fats accumulated on it, you may want to consider using a little dish soap to assist with the process. Biodegradable dish soap can help to break up cooking oils and other types of fats so that it can pass through the system and increase the efficiency and lifespan of your disposal.

To comprehend why certain items can and cannot be put down the garbage disposal, it’s also helpful to know where food scraps end up once you get the disposal blades running.

Once solid food ends up in your sink, it then makes its way through the disposal’s grind chamber, which transforms the waste into fine particles. This essentially liquifies the waste, allowing it to pass through the drain pipes.

Eventually, the water and liquid waste will make its way to a local wastewater treatment plant where solid pieces are filtered out. They’ll end up heading to an anaerobic digestion facility or, more commonly, a landfill or incinerator.

From a sustainability standpoint, the garbage disposal isn’t an ideal way to take care of kitchen waste. Not only that, but there are many types of scraps and non-food waste that can easily clog your pipes.

Before, it was just the trash or compost pile that could handle all of the waste products from your kitchen. But now, there’s a much better alternative. 


Need some way to get rid of that waste? Try Lomi!

electric composter with eggshells and fruit pits


As a quick refresher, what can you put down a garbage disposal? Not much. Unfortunately, many people incorrectly assume that more can be processed by their garburator than is actually possible. Worse, complications from putting the wrong thing down the garbage disposal can result in plumbing repairs or new garbage disposal installation costs of up to $950!

To avoid smells, messes, clogs, and unnecessary costs, an electric composter is here to save the day (and your drain!). Not only do these take garbage off the to-do list, but they also provide a way to safely process kitchen waste (and more)—sustainably, to boot!

In fact, if you join other Lomi lovers and opt for a smart composter instead of a garbage disposal system, you can turn the following into nutrient-rich dirt (not an emergency call to a plumber!):

  • Eggshells
  • Coffee grounds
  • Fibrous vegetables
  • Fibrous peels (like onion skins and potato peels)
  • Pantry staples (like oats and nut butters)
  • Pizza and pasta (in Eco Express and Lomi Approved modes)
  • Seafood, seafood shells
  • Fish bones (in Eco Express and Lomi Approved modes)
  • Meat scraps like chicken skin (in Eco Express and Lomi Approved modes)
  • Nuts and seeds (in Eco Express and Lomi Approved modes)
  • Non-food items like Lomi Approved packaging (in Lomi Approved mode)

This list is in addition to a range of other kitchen waste! It’s really no wonder why many households are finding reasons to purchase a Lomi. The electric food composter is a sustainable solution for kitchen scraps—and is much better than sending it to landfill or improperly using your garbage disposal.  

Now that you know what not to put in a garbage disposal, you know why a Lomi is such an important kitchen asset! Order one today and never worry about a clogged drain, plumbing issues, or broken disposal blades again. 


Written by: Heather Seely