A garbage disposal is a useful tool for the home cook, but it can bring trouble if it clogs up. The good news is, you can do a few things to keep it working in tip-top shape! Here are a few do’s and don’ts when it comes to using your garbage disposal:
- Always run water from the tap while using the garbage disposal, and keep the water running for a little while afterward (least 30 seconds). Running a stream of water helps debris move through your pipes, decreasing the likelihood of clogs.
- In addition to keeping the tap running, always use the hottest water possible when grinding up greasy foods.
- Regularly pour white vinegar down the drain to help prevent any noxious odors from building up. Another helpful way to avoid build-up is to occasionally chop up a few handfuls of ice cubes.
As for what types of foods you can put down your disposal, all of these items are safe to break down:
- Citrus rinds: oranges, lemons, grapefruits, limes, mandarins, etc – all of these can easily be broken down and will leave your disposal smelling fresh. Just make sure to break the rinds down into little bits before shoving down.
- Egg shells: as a bonus, the hardness of these actually helps to sharpen the blades of your disposal
- Cooked meat scraps: leftover from dinner are ok to put down when washing your dishes, just make sure the pieces are too big
- Fruit scraps: apples, citrus fruit, grapes, and berry bits
- Vegetable scraps: just be mindful not to put parts that are too large or fibrous down. See below which veggies you should avoid
You should never put any non-food items like plastic down your garbage disposal. You should also avoid putting the following food items down there, too:
- Banana peels and Corn husks: both are really fibrous and likely to cause your disposal to work harder than it needs to break these down. You’re better off just throwing these in the trash or compost bin.
- Artichokes and Asparagus: the leaves of these are really tough and, similar to corn husks, may get caught in the blades of your disposal, causing it to overwork and/or break down
- Onion skins and Potato peels: another no-go like husks and leaves.
- Bones and Shells: these things are too tough to be broken down without damaging disposal blades
- Fatty or gristly meat remnants: avoid putting fatty or greasy substances down the disposal. These tend to congeal, which can create a gnarly and rotten-smelling clog.
- Starchy foods that become gummy when moist (like pasta or rice): these can cause some seriously damaging clogs that you’ll need a professional plumber to remove.
Not a Trash Can
Remember: The garbage disposal isn’t intended as a trash can replacement. So, using your disposal isn’t an ideal method for cleaning out your fridge, or for disposing of everything left over after a meal-prepping session.
Instead, use your garbage disposal to get rid of small amounts of food left on everyone’s plates. As long as the plates don’t include any items from the above list, everything you should go smoothly!
Garbage Disposal Not Working?
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