HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >

Discussion

What do you put down the garbage disposal?

I know this isn't really a food question, but I know I will get responses from people that cook frequently. Everytime my mother in law visits she "messes" with my kitchen - burning up pans, teapots, breaking bowls. It's unbelievable. She also puts some things down the garbage disposal I would put in the trash. Today she put down a whole banana peel with the woody stem. I saw it down there and was able to pull it out before I turned it on. She thought I was being ridiculous and just anal about the kitchen. It turned into a big discussion over dinner. Thought I would get opinions from fellow chowhounders! Tell me I'm not crazy!!!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. my mum puts small chicken bones down hers - she's positive they sharpen the blades!

    I was told by a garbage disposal engineer to NEVER put onion skins, banana skins or tea bags in.

    1 Reply
    1. re: smartie

      i've been putting everything (bones, banana skins, etc) down mine for about 20 years now and it works just as well today as it did when i installed it.
      the machine needs to work for me, i don't want to work for it.
      that said, i don't cook potatos, so i have no experience with those.

    2. You are ABSOLUTELY right! Among other things you should not put down the garbage disposal are asparagus, celery or anything stringy or fibrous. The strings wrap themselves around the blades and moving parts and you have a strangled garbage disposal on your hands.

      1. As a 16 year professional General Contractor running a Handyman business, I put in and service alot of garbage disposals. I have made lots of money taking out coins, dog collars, towels, bottle caps, screws, pieces of metal such as parts of forks, spoons, etc., and these are usually from rental apartments. Of course this gets charged backed to the tenants by the owners/property managers, so I walk away looking like a knight in shining armor for rescuing them...............TILL THEY GET THE BILL from someone other than me!

        The worst things, bar none, to put in a garbage disposal? Potato peels. And cooked rice. Both, but especially potato peels turn into glue in your drain, as the starch gets ground up, sitting in your pipes to harden or just cause a blockage if not enough water pushes it all the way to the water treatment plant. A little bit, a little at a time may be fine, but that Thanksgiving dinner or Xmas dinner potato preparation could cause you a large plumber's bill. Beware!!!!!!!!!! I have NEVER taken stringy blockages out of a garbage disposal or pipes, though I agree with that advice in a general sense. My general rule of thumb? Put your bones, garbage, debris in the garbage pail, and save the disposal in the sink for the crud that gets washed off the plates doing dishes. Scrape those plates into the trash can. Don't say that you haven't been warned. I love your money! There is good reason New York City banned garbage disposals. Too big a load on the waste water treatment facilities trying to remove the debris in processing the water.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Handyman

          A question, please Handyman - how should those of us who bake a lot of bread dispose of the flour-water (AKA paste) sludge that clings to bowls? I use a "biga" or starter so there is that flour-water mixture as well as the dough remains.

          Yes, I scrape as much as I can into the trash but stubborn bits still cling to the bowl. I'm particularly concerned about this since my house is built into a hill and all effluent must be pumped UP the hill to the street sewer line. A bread dough clogged sewage ejection pump does not bear thinking about.

          Have already learned the expensive potato peel lesson which was a surprise to me because these disposals are very high-powered. I now use lots of water - before, during and after grinding - hoping to help move things along.

          TIA

          1. re: Handyman

            My husband hasn't gotten the message on the no-vegetable-skin rule, so I've gotten well-versed on how to take apart the pipes under the sink, pull out the clogged peels and putting it all back together again without calling a plumber or handyman.

            1. re: Handyman

              H,
              You are absoultely incorrect. I have been a licensed plumber since 1976, and hold a Master Plumber's license in NYC since 1982. GARBAGE DISPOSALS ARE NOT BANNED IN NYC.
              If you need plumbing assistance in NYC, call a professional not a handyman ....It is the LAW. Only a licensed plumber can do plumbing work in NYC!

            2. NEVER:

              citrus skins
              banana peels
              garlic ends
              onion/leek ends
              carrot ends
              peach/apricot/prune pits
              small (or any) bones
              tea bags
              coffee filters
              paper towels
              paper napkins

              11 Replies
              1. re: hotoynoodle

                My husband owns a plumbing company and he always puts bits of citrus in our garbage disposal....he says that citrus won't harm the disposal and provides a fresh smell when ground up. He agrees with the rest of your list, though!

                1. re: Niki in Dayton

                  mine just don't get ground. motor is only medium sized. i heard that putting a tray of ice cubes down every so often helps clean it.

                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                    A guy that once cleaned out our (clogged) disposal said the same thing, to run ice cubes every once in a while. Does anyone know what, besides citrus, to run down there to keep it fresh-smelling?

                    1. re: aurora50

                      put in a couple table spoons of baking soda then a 1/4 cup of white vinegar. fizzes like crazy, freshens it up nice.

                      that said, I don't put much down my garbage disposal because i was told the waste processing plants cannot really handle the sludge produced.

                      1. re: aurora50

                        You can buy little pellets called Plink at places like Linens & Things or Bed, Bath & Beyond. Run hot water into disposal, drop in a Plink, switch to cold water and grind for a few seconds. Nice orange or lemon citrus smell.

                        http://www.amazon.com/Plink-Garbage-D...

                        Funny review at the bottom as well. :-)

                  2. re: hotoynoodle

                    <<NEVER:

                    citrus skins
                    banana peels
                    garlic ends
                    onion/leek ends
                    carrot ends
                    peach/apricot/prune pits
                    small (or any) bones
                    tea bags
                    coffee filters
                    paper towels
                    paper napkins>>

                    I put almost all of those things in my disposer and have never had a problem. The exceptions are paper towels, paper napkins and tea bags -- with strings attached.

                    For the record, I don't put anything in it that is stringy like celery or artichokes. But after reading all the things people WON'T put down them, I wonder why anyone would bother to have one.

                    Now that I've just said I've never had a problem, I've probably jinxed the works and can expect my disposer to blow up within 24 hours. sigh.

                    1. re: chicgail

                      I can only speak for myself of course, but I primarily use the garbage disposal for protein stuff (meat, cheese). I compost most of the veggie waste as well as coffee grinds. I also sometimes run citrus through it, as it makes it smell better, and ice cubes to clean it. For some folks the answer might be "because it was there when we bought the house" but we consciously chose to have a garbage disposal....we just don't use it for much now that we're trying harder to be more ecologically friendly in our house. The best part....our garden did wonderfully this year with the rich compost!

                      1. re: Niki in Dayton

                        We live in a city and do not have space for a compost heap. If we did, I'm sure a lot of the vegetable waste would be in it instead of the disposer. Enjoy that garden.

                      2. re: chicgail

                        Citrus skins are really not a problem at all. But yes, most of your list is great.

                        Worst mistake I ever made: Raw fish guts. Didn't clog things, but MAN what a horrible smell, which lingered for days.

                      3. re: hotoynoodle

                        Damn, except for the last three, that's everything worth putting in there. Why even have one if you can't put vegetable trimmings in there?

                        1. re: bywatertim

                          I agree. When I redid my kitchen some years back I did not install one and just composted everything. But now I am in condo which has one which I do use a lot. No where to compost here. I use it mostly for leftover salad and pre salad making when I trim the veggies. If it can't go in the disposal then I bag it up in plastic bag and put out in the trasn. I am not sure about the avacado skins so I jusr put them in the plastic bag along with the seed. I have on occassion put pieces of lemons, limes, etc in it as it give a nice smell. But I cut them up into quarters.

                      4. NEVER ever put artichoke leaves in a disposal.