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5 Things that Don’t Belong in the Garbage Disposal

Your garbage disposal might seem like a catch-all for whatever food you don’t want to eat. But if you put the wrong items in the kitchen sink drain—or too many items—you may regret it later on. Keep these items (and body parts) out of the garbage disposal to keep your drains clear and your unit in good shape.

  • Your hands. The impeller of your garbage disposal doesn’t have sharp blades like you might imagine—but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to put your hands down the drain when the disposal breaks. You never know if a power surge can turn it on unexpectedly—or if the garbage disposal was stopped by broken glass or something else that can cut your hand.
  • Meat bones and other hard scraps. Hard food items can damage the disposal for good, since your disposal unit cannot process them the way it can with other food scraps.
  • Paper products. It may seem like your garbage disposal can take on anything, like the napkin you used at dinner. But the disposal could struggle to tear it to shreds. And if it manages to break into small enough pieces, the paper can still cling to the inside of the pipes like papier-mâché.
  • Large portions. A few broccoli florets left over from dinner should do well in the garbage disposal. An entire broccoli casserole that no one touched won’t go over as well. Putting too much food into the garbage disposal at once can overwork the unit, forcing it to shut down when you really need it.
  • Fibrous foods. Even some of your seemingly safe food scraps can cause some trouble for the garbage disposal. Fibrous foods like asparagus, onion skins, celery, and anything else that seems stringy could wrap around the impellers and jam the motor of the disposal. Put these items in the trash instead.

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