10 Things You Should Never Put In Your Garbage Disposal

Your garbage disposal is designed to handle small bits of food waste, not everything you try to cram down the drain. Putting the wrong things down your disposal can lead to clogs, jams, motor burnout and other problems. Avoid potential disposal disasters by keeping these 10 items out:

Egg Shells

While egg shells are made from calcium carbonate like many rocks and minerals, they do not stand up well to grinding and shredding. The thin, brittle shells easily fracture into jagged shards that can collect in the disposal opening and drain pipes. Over time, those small pieces can accumulate and cause clogs. The membrane on the inside of shells also contains proteins that can stick. For fewer drain issues, compost eggshells or toss them in the trash.

Expandable Foods

Starchy and expandable foods like pasta, rice, oatmeal and potatoes can quickly clog drains. As these foods absorb water, they expand and thicken into dense masses that block pipes and grinders. Even small amounts can create stubborn obstructions. Never send leftovers of these down the disposal. Scrap them into the trash or compost instead. Expanded pet foods like dry kibble can cause the same issues.

Grease and Oil

Greasy, oily substances quickly coat pipes, seize motors and solidify into clogs. Oil and grease should never go down any drain. Small grease amounts can accumulate over time and create huge obstructions. Once coating pipes, thick greasy deposits prevent wastewater from flowing freely. Food items with high fat content like butter, olive oil and meat trimmings also create oily messes. Reduce grease entering your drains by scraping plates and cookware and soaking up excess amounts with paper towels prior to washing.

Fruit and Vegetable Peels

Fruits and vegetables with hard, fibrous skins like potatoes, oranges, bananas, onions and corncobs resist breakdown. Their stringy peels take ages to shred, often escaping shredders entirely and shooting out drains as sizable clumps. Over time, bits of peel collect and snowball into substantial clogs. Compost all peels or dispose of them with other solids instead of sending them to disposals.

Coffee Grounds

Used coffee grounds seem harmless but can wreak havoc on your pipes and disposal. Their tiny grains and particles easily slip through grinders but then accumulate into dense masses that clog drains. Grounds also contain oils that stick to pipes. Avoid pouring leftover brewed or dry coffee grounds down the drain. Compost them or discard them in the trash instead. Tea leaves cause the same issues.


No bones should ever go down your garbage disposal, no matter how strong its grinding power. Bone fragments can stress and dull shredder blades causing your disposal to work less efficiently. Bones eventually fracture into small jagged chunks that can obstruct drain pipes and will not break down. To avoid plumbing and appliance damage, throw all bones, including small poultry bones, into your general household waste.

Heavy Fibrous Material

Your disposal was not designed to chew through tough, stringy fibers. Avoid sending material like corn husks, celery stalks, pineapple tops, onion skins, artichokes leaves and asparagus butts down your drain. Though grinders shred them into smaller chunks, the stringy bits still pose risks for hooking together and causing obstructions. Instead, place heavy fibrous waste in your compost pile or trash.

Fruit Pits and Seeds

Hard fruit pits and seeds from foods like cherries, peaches, plums and avocados can harm shredder blades much like bones. Though small, their tough exteriors resist grinding and fracture into small sharp fragments more likely to obstruct pipes. Allowing pits and seeds to flow down drains also risks germination further down the line. Avoid this by removing and discarding pits and seeds in your main garbage.

Seafood Shells

Sturdy crustacean shells from crabs, shrimp and lobsters persist through shredders, often escaping grinders whole and clearing drains slowly. Their light pieces then accumulate and pose clogging threats. Never send shells from mussels, clams or oysters down disposals either. Instead, place all shells in your trash or use them for crafts and decorations.


Cooked pasta seems soft but can quickly expand, thicken and harden if sent down drains. Strands and bits easily wedge into pipes and grinders. Grease and oil from sauces also get trapped on noodle surfaces and hasten clogs. Stop pasta particles before they reach your disposal and cause havoc. Remove uneaten portions from plates and pots for your main trash or compost bin. Then thoroughly wipe greasy pasta dishes prior to rinsing.


Your garbage disposal works best if fed a sensible diet of waste. Avoid wrestling with drain obstructions, appliance jams and plumbing repairs by keeping your disposal free of these 10 clogging culprits. Small behavior changes like scraping plates, composting peels and discarding pits will optimize disposal function for smoother wastewater flows. With mindful attention to disposal inputs, you can enjoy years of clog-free operation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions about what not to put down a garbage disposal:

What food items should never go in my garbage disposal?

Some of the key foods to avoid putting down the disposal include egg shells, starchy foods like pasta or rice, grease and oil, fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds, bones, fibrous material like corn husks, fruit pits and seeds, seafood shells, and pasta.

Why can coffee grounds damage my garbage disposal?

Coffee grounds can collect and compress in pipes and jams grinders. Their tiny particles slip through shredders but then stick together into blockages. Grounds also contain oils that adhere to pipes.

Can fruit and vegetable peels go in the disposal?

It’s best to avoid putting any fruit or vegetable peels down your drain. Tough skins and rinds like potato peels, orange peels and onion skins resist grinding and can tangle together into clogs over time. Compost peels instead.

What food expand when wet and clog drains?

Starchy foods like pasta, rice, oatmeal and potatoes expand tremendously when absorbing water. Even small amounts of these foods can swell and create obstructions in drains and garbage disposals. Never send leftovers of these down your disposal.

Why shouldn’t grease and fat go down drains?

Grease and oils quickly coat pipes and drains, leading to clogs. Grease residues also seize up disposal motors. Even small amounts accumulate over time. Avoid sending butter, cooking oil, meat fats and other greasy materials down any drain in your home.

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