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What Can and Can’t Go Down Your Garbage Disposal

A garbage disposal is a modern convenience many of us have in our homes. With a garbage disposal, there are foods you can flush down the drain to get rid of rather than tossing in the trash. However, not everything is safe for the disposal. Keeping your garbage disposal in good working condition means knowing what is and is not safe to be washed down the drain. 

Food and Other Items That Are Safe For Your Garbage Disposal

Some foods are safe for a garbage disposal, with some being beneficial and even recommended to keep your device in clean, good working order. Read on to learn which items can be washed down the drain safely without causing harm to your garbage disposal.

Ice Cubes

Toss a few ice cubes down the drain occasionally to help clean your garbage disposal. The hard ice chunks push food around that may be sitting inside your disposal and scrape any residue from the sides of the tank.

Dish Soap

Another simple way to keep your garbage disposal clean is to run cold water and dish soap down the drain. As the soapy water spins around inside your disposal, it cleans the reservoir and blades. Use this method periodically to keep the unit clean and eliminate odors.

Citrus Fruits

Lemons, limes, and oranges are all excellent for cleaning your garbage disposal. Remove the peels of the fruit, cut it into small sections, and toss it down the drain. These citrus fruits will remove odors and leave your drain smelling fresh. You can also put the peels themselves or leftover pieces from juicing for the same effect.

Soft Foods and Liquids

In general, it is safe to put most liquids and soft foods through the garbage disposal. Of course, some are hazardous to your system, as we’ll explain below, so you’ll need to be mindful of those items. However, liquids such as water, juice, and tea are perfectly safe for the garbage disposal. Soft foods that do not clump together are also safe. As a general rule of thumb, think about what the food does when mixed with water. If a soft food mixed with water disintegrates, minimizes, or falls apart, it should be considered safe to put down the sink.

Items You Should Never Put Through the Garbage Disposal

Along with knowing what is safe for the garbage disposal, you’ll need to learn all the things that could spell disaster for your appliance. Certain foods and non-food items can damage your disposal, cause clogs in your pipes, or simply linger and create a smelly, unhealthy plumbing system. 

Grease and Oil

Grease and oil, both hot and cold, can be detrimental to your plumbing system. Even in a liquid state, grease and oil should never be put down the drain, garbage disposal or not. As these liquids sit, they harden and can form a mass in your pipe or garbage disposal. This mass continues to grow as other food items or more lard clumps with it, forming a blockage. Save yourself a bundle of money on plumbing repairs and avoid the sink by putting cooking oils and liquid grease into a jar and tossing it in the trash. 


Chicken, pork chops, and steak are all tasty dishes for your evening meal. The leftover bones, however, are a danger for your garbage disposal. Animal bones are hard, making your garbage disposal work overtime and placing stress on the machine. Bones are also often irregular in shape and sometimes pointy and sharp, causing a risk of damaging your pipes and getting stuck. Animal bones increase your likelihood of needing emergency plumbing services for leaky pipes and clogs, so always toss them in the trash.

Coffee Grounds

One of the most unsuspecting dangers for your garbage disposal, coffee grounds are among the top things professional plumbers find causing blockages in your plumbing. It may seem harmless to pour coffee grounds down the drain as you would assume they would divide and flush away easily. However, coffee grounds tend to clump together when added to water, leaving you with a high risk of clogging your pipes.


Eggshells probably seem like they would be okay for the garbage disposal. They are hard but are easily broken up. However, it isn’t necessarily the shell itself that poses a risk to your plumbing device. Inside of eggshells is a slimy, sticky membrane. This membrane sticks to the different parts inside your garbage disposal and can twist around the blades and motor. As the sticky part of the eggshell winds around the disposal, it attracts other food and may eventually create a mass that blocks your pipes. It also harms your garbage disposal by causing the motor to work harder. Eggshells are excellent for composting or fine to simply toss in the garbage, so keep them out of the kitchen drain.

Fibrous Vegetables

Fibrous vegetables such as celery and squash can be harmful to your garbage disposal and pipes because of the risk of the fibrous strands wrapping around parts and creating an obstruction. As the fibrous strands stick in one spot, they attract more food to gather and create a mass that clogs your drains and pipes. Rather than putting these types of vegetables down the drain to go through the disposal, you should compost them or toss them outdoors for all the little critters to enjoy.

Flour, Breads, and Pasta

Flour, bread, and pasta are all starchy foods. The problem with putting starch down the drain and through the garbage disposal is that the foods clump together. As they clump up with water, they form a blob of dough that may stick to the inside of your appliance or pipes. Additionally, if the chunk of doughy food hardens inside the plumbing system, it may create a mass that attracts other foods and eventually creates a massive clog. When this clog stops your plumbing, you’ll need a professional plumber for removal.


Chemicals should never be poured down the drain, even if they are marked for plumbing use. Liquid drain cleaners can actually be very harsh on your pipes, causing erosion over time. Other cleaners may create a risk to the water supply when poured down the drain. Always dispose of chemicals properly, which depends on what the chemical is.

Trash and Non-Food Items

It probably seems obvious to not put trash down the drain, but some people actually do it. Even things that may seem small and harmless such as fruit stickers and wrappers are commonly found inside blocked pipes and garbage disposals. Non-food items should always be disposed of properly and never put down the drain.

Understanding what is and isn’t safe for your garbage disposal can make a world of difference in keeping your plumbing system up and running. However, there may be times when you need a professional plumber to make repairs to your disposal or perhaps install a new one. In the event that you need garbage disposal services, or other household plumbing, heating, and cooling work, count on the trusted experts at Lightfoot Plumbing, Heating, Air & Electrical. We handle a variety of home services to keep you comfortable and eliminate disruptions to your daily life.

If you need repairs or replacement of your garbage disposal in the Weatherford, TX, area, call Lightfoot Plumbing, Heating, Air & Electrical today.

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Gary Lightfoot

With over 30 years of experience in the industry, Gary Lightfoot took over his family business and continues to run it with the values and standards set 35 years ago

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