Skip to Content
Serving Jacksonville, St. Augustine & Palm Coast
Emergency Service Available 904-605-8190

The Do’s and Don’ts of Garbage Disposals


Here's How to Take Care of Your Garbage Disposal

Your garbage disposal is a very handy tool. However, it isn't indestructible, Nether is your drain.

There are some items you simply shouldn't put down the drain. Many of us understand that but still put the wrong things in the garbage disposal and cause a clog. 

Understanding what can and can't go in is the real problem. 

Be honest, how many times have you stood in front of the running disposal and asked, "Can this go in there? Or, is it a direct invitation for the plumber to visit tomorrow?"

Before we get into a specific 'Do and Don't' list, just remember this one rule:

If you can't chew it, don't put it down the drain.

Now, let's look at what you can't put into a garbage disposal.

Don't Put These Things Into Your Drain

  • Coffee grounds. The used coffee grains enter the drain just fine, but they don't do so well exiting your drain pipe. The grounds turn into a heavy, sludge-like sediment, and it takes a lot of water to break them up.
  • Fats, Oils, Grease (FOGs). These are drain pipe killers. They are thick and heavy, so they don't flow straight out of your drain pipe. Also, if it's cold weather, they are harder to get moving. Just remember the phrase, "Don't put FOG into the drain."
  • Non-food items. The garbage disposal was designed for food scraps, not plastic wrapping, bread ties, or paper towels. Yes, people have tried. 
  • Rice and pasta. Rice and pasta have the ability to keep expanding as more water is poured on them. So, even if the pasta is normal size, after sitting in the drain until it's completely washed out, it can grow to much larger sizes than when you cooked it. 
  • Your hands! Yes, things do get stuck inside the disposal but trying to clear them out with your hands while it's still running isn't wise. The safe thing to do is cut off the power and carefully clear it out. However, be careful, the blades can be sharp. If you can't easily remove the item, it's best to call a plumber. 

If you've got a smelly garbage disposal, here's how to clean it.

What You Can Put Down A Disposal

Now, don't get the idea "Why even have a disposal, nothing can go into it." That isn't true, the benefits of a garbage disposal far outweigh the restrictions. 

Here's what you can put into your garbage disposal:

  • Water. I know, not very surprising. However, putting a lot of water through your garbage disposal helps keep it clean and free of obstructions. Also, always run water down the disposal when you are using it.
  • Soft foods. So, what is a soft food for the disposal? Remember not to put anything that will change shape after being exposed to lots of water. Remember pasta from above?
  • Non-fibrous fruit and vegetable scraps. This can be tricky because sometimes the skin has fiber but the fruit or vegetable is soft. So, judge the texture and strength of the item, if it seems tough, best to leave it out. 

What if you accidentally put something down the drain that shouldn't be there? Here's our advice.

We've handled quite a few plugged main drains over the years. You can remain calm as long as you follow the listed guidelines. If you have any more questions please feel free to contact us.