Grind to a Halt: Types of Kitchen Waste Your Garbage Disposal Can’t Handle

Garbage disposals make our lives in the kitchen a lot easier, and they are designed to take a lot of abuse. While they can grind up a lot of our waste, some items should never be put down the drain. Your garbage disposal is the gateway to your kitchen sink, and everything will end up going down the drain in smaller pieces. Consider some guidelines before you fire up the disposal.

Hard Stuff

Your garbage disposal is durable, but it won’t be able to grind up hard materials like fruit pits, bones, or nutshells. They will bounce around, dull your blades, or even break the unit. If you are unsure, go the safe route and just throw it away. Harder items that your disposal may grind, like eggshells, can eventually clog your pipes and should also be tossed in the garbage.

Coffee Grounds

If you put coffee grounds down your disposal, they will thicken into a paste, and do some severe damage, so it’s wisest to throw them out or add them to your garden. In addition to potentially causing damage, the paste will stick around for a while, bringing with it the smell of old coffee. If you have accidentally put coffee grounds down the disposal and you’re trying to get rid of the smell, try a thinly sliced citrus rind.


You already know how pasta expands once it’s exposed to water. The same principle applies to water in a pot on the stove and water in the drain. Even small pieces of pasta can swell over time and ruin your disposal. As the disposal tries to grind up the pasta, it will make a gluey paste. If you’re not a fan of grandma’s leftover casserole, make sure you dispose of it another way.

Grease, Fat, or Oil

Large quantities of oil or grease will solidify in your sink and cause a massive clog. Your best bet is to put them in the freezer, let them harden, and then dispose of them in the trash. Otherwise, they can cause a slow draining garbage disposal or jam.

You’ll likely need a plumber to diagnose and take care of this kind of problem, because it’s not wise to try and fix a garbage disposal yourself. Plumbers can diagnose and correct the issue quickly without it getting worse.

Fibrous Items

Some fruits and vegetables are surprisingly sturdy and may not break down in the disposal. Broccoli, onions, celery stalks, and cabbage have tough fibers that can get tangled in the blades. Your motor will be put under a lot of stress, and its lifespan will be shortened. Instead, through these foods away or add them to your compost.

Large Amounts of Food

Dumping a ton of food at once down the drain and then starting the motor is suicide for your disposal. Run your tap water, and feed small amounts through at a time. Each batch should be ground thoroughly before you put more through. This will keep your disposal from getting stuck or working hard enough to burn out the motor.

Take care of your garbage disposal, and it will last for years. Clean it each month with a simple concoction of baking soda and vinegar and avoid placing harmful materials down the drain, and you’ll prevent an unexpected breakdown and persistent odors.

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