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Garbage disposal uses

I have been reading up on garbage disposals and can not find an answer. I want to know if I can use it for corn husks and corn cobs (if broken into several sections)?
Also avacado skins? I have been putting them down and it seems OK.
Onion skins?

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  1. a garbage repair man said to me, no onion skins or other tough skins and leek ends or other rooty ends with stringy bits like scallions, no tea bags without or obviously with string, no large chicken bones such as the leg bones but small bones ok, no other meat bones at all, no eggshells, no fruit stones, no citrus pith.

    I don't really care what others say is ok to go down the disposal, I do not want to call a plumber to fix or replace mine following a smelly blocked sink so I tend to be careful and really only use it for plate scrapings and leftovers.

    2 Replies
    1. re: smartie

      Interesting--when I was researching online about garbage disposal maintenance, eggshells were recommended as a good way to help keep the unit cleaned out...hmmmmm.......

      1. re: KSlink

        Actually, walnut shells are the thing for that.

    2. I have no problem with onion skin but corn husks are a definite no no. Quinoa is also a poor idea.

      1. For me, in a mid-century house, it is not so much what the disposal can handle but what the pipes can handle. We put very little down the disposal and basically just use it for sink clearing after rinsing plates etc.

        2 Replies
        1. re: escondido123

          Same here. We scrape plates into a bag or bucket, depending on on what the scrap is (trash or compost) and put nothing down the disposal purposefully. If debris starts hindering the water draining down, flip the switch for a few seconds....pau. On another note: I had a GF who was helping her BF move out of his apt into her home a few years ago. Cleaning out his pantry, she found a box of those potato flake things....date said they were expired quite a few years previous....so she turned on the hot water and proceeded to dump them down the drain while running the disposal. Needless to say, the BF wound up having to climb under the house to clear the obstruction from the pipes. Yeesh....

          1. re: escondido123

            Me too. Not much fall in the drainline. After numerous plumber visits, I've quit using it entirely.

          2. No corn husks, or corn cobs. No potato skins either. I think avocado skins would be OK, but check your manual before proceeding.

            I don't put tough or woody vegetable parts down mine, and after I saw the inside of the pipes once, I won't put coffee grounds down it either.

            And when purchasing, don't buy the cheapest unit you can find. Buy in the middle, price wise.

            1. Why would you want to put corn husks in the disposal? A garbage disposal is best for plate leftovers and vegetable parts left from chopping. Anything tough like what you mentioned could not only damage the disposal but also clog your pipes. Just throw that stuff in the garbage or compost them.

              22 Replies
                1. re: mojoeater

                  I want to put everything I can into it instead of filling up the landfills. Every little bit helps.

                  1. re: azDesertGal

                    Does it really? is cleaning it out of the sewage system enviromentally better than adding it to a giant compost pile of solid waste? -I'm not being sarcatic, I just don't know.

                    I wonder this every time i spend energy or water trying to get a PB jar clean enough to recycle

                    Guess it would come down to subjective utility in any case:
                    is 1 in 50? chance of blowing up $200 disposal worth 20 extra lbs of landfill per year to you?

                    1. re: azDesertGal

                      Where do you think the food from your disposal goes? Garbage heaven? It ends up in our sewer systems and rivers, or just clogs a pipe somewhere downstream. The most "green" you can be is to create a compost pile/bin.

                      1. re: azDesertGal

                        Food residue that can go into a garbage disposal readily deteriorates in a landfill. If you put a lot of that usually vegetable residue down the drain it has to be processed with a lot of water by the municipal waste water treatment plant. Here in Minnesota we have a lot of water, not quite the same as the desert.

                        1. re: John E.

                          How can it deteriorate in land fill since it is in PLASTIC garbage bags?

                            1. re: John E.

                              did a bit of looking on web, appears both trash and drain are really not advisable
                              Everyone needs to carry a portable compost bin


                              1. re: sbs401

                                "Everyone needs to carry a portable compost bin"

                                No they don't.

                            2. re: azDesertGal

                              'how can it deteriorate in land fill since it is in PLASTIC garbage bags?"

                              DO NOT put it in a plastic garbage bag, azDe. If you're really serious about landfills please learn some things, recycling wise, to figure out your problem. Sheeesh.

                              1. re: latindancer

                                Sorry but plastic is all that is sold for the cans. Wish there were more choices but then again how strong is paper? Its hard enough trying to find plastic bags that will not fall apart between my kitchen and garage. Also I think that pape would not contain the smell and I would not like my garage to start smelling bad.
                                Wish there was a better way but I guess I will just stick to what I am doing and using the plastic but trying to avoid a lot of this by using disposal for anything that I can.

                                1. re: azDesertGal

                                  I'm still confused why there is no concern for the use of excess water (in a desert community), but lots of concern over a landfill.

                                  1. re: wyogal

                                    I've spent a bit of time in Mesa. Despite it being a desert water is used there as if it's in endless supply. It mostly comes from the Colorado and Salt Rivers. For the population size they don't have a lot of water. What they do have is a lot of room for landfills. There is so much open space down there it is unbelievable, even in the metro area. (Plenty of room for landfills).

                                    1. re: John E.

                                      Yes, and every time we are down in Mesa (going there middle of June to visit MIL), there are more developments with more swimming pools, and artificial "lakes" and ponds.

                                      1. re: wyogal

                                        I remember being in Mesa one March and it was 100 degrees on St. Patrick's Day.
                                        I thought it was June 17th. Another year I was there for the entire months of January and February and the temperature never got higher than 70 degrees. (Which was still ok by me).

                                  2. re: azDesertGal

                                    "Wish there were more choices"

                                    You know what? My motto is "where there's a will there's a way". You're not researching enough. Especially when you've stated 'it's hard enough trying to find plastic bags that will not fall apart". Seriously? I've used plastic bags for taking items to shelters that not only carried so much weight (and were completely tear resistant) that the guy taking it out of my car could barely lift it.
                                    If you're really serious about landfills then you'll figure it out. I'm beginning to wonder....

                                    1. re: azDesertGal


                                      Home Depot carries a product called "Ecoguard"....biodegradable, compostable bags for food waste. Same for cans/bottles. Just don't fill them so they start tearing. They're not super heavy duty.
                                      My garbage bin is outside in an alley....the smell is no different than decomposing grass clippings/yard waste in another bin.

                                      1. re: latindancer

                                        I called and they had them last year but the company bought them all back.and they are no longer available. Must have been a problem with them.
                                        Since my cans are in my garage I need something to contain the smell especially in temps over 100 degrees.

                                        1. re: azDesertGal

                                          I agree with those that say you're not trying very hard. I just googled "biodegradable garbage bags" and found at least 6 kinds.

                                          Many of these are available at Whole Foods (or Sunflower, since you are in AZ).

                                          Water wasting is a real concern in the desert, a much bigger concern that landfills, imo. Your environmentalism is mis-directed, and I'm as crunchy as they get.

                                          Do you rent? I assume that's why you don't care about breaking the disposal.

                                          1. re: caviar_and_chitlins

                                            I believe there's a bit of obtuseness going on imho.
                                            As you say there are lots and lots of answers and very practical ways to deal with the request.

                                            1. re: latindancer

                                              No kidding. It'd be easier to read up on a worm bin or compost holder or order some bags on Amazon than to throw out excuses on Chowhound.

                            3. I wouldn't put any of those things in mine. Cutting up a corn cob and husk is a lot more work than throwing them in the garbage, for one thing.

                              18 Replies
                              1. re: GH1618

                                A little more work doesn't bother me. But filling up the landfills does. I believe in recycling and ulsing my disposal is just part of that.

                                  1. re: azDesertGal

                                    I'm not sure you need to be concerned about food waste in a landfill - it all biodegrades over time, anyway. The things you need to worry about when it comes to landfills are the things that don't break down or break down into harmful compounds - man made stuff - plastic, etc. Food waste just turns into dirt - really good dirt.

                                    1. re: azDesertGal

                                      But the amount of water you use to run your disposal properly should also be taken into consideration. I agree with the idea of composting--or where I live I believe anything vegetable might be eligible for inclusion in yard waste container that is composted.

                                      1. re: escondido123

                                        Composting is not an option for me where I live.

                                        1. re: azDesertGal

                                          That's too bad, azDesertGal. Having a compost pile means that the spousal unit and I generate only one 13 gallon bag of garbage each week (and it's not always full!).

                                          1. re: kcshigekawa

                                            I only use a 13 gallon bag each week also. Maybe bcuz I eat out a lot. LOL

                                          2. re: azDesertGal

                                            That is too bad. Just curious if it's local to your development that you can't compost...or maybe you're in an apartment?

                                          3. re: azDesertGal

                                            "But filling up the landfills does"

                                            Huh? Food is biodegradable....some food products break down faster than others but they eventually break down....most of them very quickly..
                                            It's the plastics, the metals, etc., that you need to worry about. Not food.
                                            Please don't put corncobs, cornhusks, banana peels down your disposal...it will compromise it, if not break it.
                                            Separate your food from the bad stuff and put it in the garbage if you can't compost it and forget about it.

                                            1. re: latindancer

                                              Biodegradable if they aren't locked up in a plastic bag. That's why compost works.

                                              1. re: escondido123

                                                "Biodegradable if they aren't locked up in a plastic bag"

                                                Well yeah, of course, I think I made that pretty clear in my post? The OP can't compost. I will make this extra clear for those who don't recycle. I've been doing it for approximately 40 years.
                                                Put the garbage (food) in a brown paper bag and throw it in the garbage.

                                                1. re: latindancer

                                                  Can't do that as it is required to be in a closed up plastic garbage bag.

                                                  1. re: azDesertGal

                                                    "Can't do that as it is required to be in a closed up plastic garbage bag."

                                                    axDeserGal. Do you have reference material on recycling? It may do you well to read up on various ways people take care of their surroundings, environmentally. Okay, you can't compote, fine. Don't put the big stuff down the disposal or you'll most likely break it. You use a '13 gallon bag' for trash?
                                                    Put your garbage (food only) in RECYCLEABLE COMPOSTABLE bags and put those in the city trash. Look up the manufacturer and order them from the company.
                                                    I put mine in heavy duty paper bags, as most people I know do, and it goes in a city dumpster. We know the guy, on our route, who picks it up and we're all in agreement it's fine.

                                                    1. re: latindancer

                                                      We have specific heavy bags called borough bags that the city requires you to buy and use. No cost for garbage pick up but each bag is 3.80. Recycling is free.

                                                      1. re: melpy

                                                        I would be in complete favor of something like that. Unfortunately every city municipality is different and every person's idea of how to recycle/compost is different.
                                                        Visiting a colleague's home a few weeks ago she proceeded to explain she had begun to compost. She'd built her pile right outside her kitchen window in order to make it more efficient to take things out and work the compost.
                                                        What she doesn't understand is that there is a fair amount of methane gas that comes along with composting and placing it near a window is a big no-no.

                                            2. re: azDesertGal

                                              Make sure you read my post above. You got some bad information from somewhere.

                                              1. re: azDesertGal

                                                Filling up landfills is not a concern. A ten square mile piece of desert could contain all of Americas waste over the next 100 years. It is also more regulated than farm land.
                                                The fear that was instilled in the 90's lives on.

                                            3. When our original-to-the-house garbage disposal died, we bought a 1 HP unit that relishes just about anything, from the accidentally tossed in beef bone pieces, to several of my stainless steel spoons. When alerted by the horrendous grinding noise, we remove such items, but the bones were half chewed down already (who knows, if we'd left them in, perhaps the machine would have eaten them up); the spoons we had to throw out, as they had too many sharp edges after their beating. The only thing that kicked our 1 horse wonder, were the fish scales from the large number of fish that our dear neighbor gifted us with. Those things are like fiberglas! Contrast that to our old machine, which regularily choked on cabbage trimmings.

                                              1. Definitely no asparagus peelings. Plumbers are expensive.
                                                And take a look at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/379381

                                                1. I get it. You don't want to send garbage to the landfill OK. Figure out how to compost, or do some other thing, but don't put corncobs in the garbage disposal, nor the cores of cabbage, nor fruit pits, nor potato peels. If you do, you soon won't be able to put anything down the disposal.

                                                  1. AzDG...I hope this helps you

                                                    I am a third generation Licensed Plumber in NYC, obtaining my first license in 1976! We have been installing food disposers for a long time....keep in mind the following:

                                                    1) The food grinder does have limitations and things such as string, woody vegetables, large bones from protiens are not sutiable.

                                                    2) Once the items are ground up, they will flush out and drain into your waste water system in your structure without any consequence. Provided your system is in good working order you should have no problems. (Have a licensed master plumber check you system first, to see if it can handle this added debris.

                                                    3) Do not install a unit if you have a cesspool or leaching field.

                                                    4) Did you know that when a waste water treatment plant processes waste with food bourne product , it ususally skimmed and the debris and then puts in a land fill, or huge compost pile. If you have ever passed a landfill, you will note that it smells just like your compost pile.

                                                    5) As with any kitchen machinery there is required maintenance, of the unit and the piping associated with it.

                                                    6) Did you know that to clean the unit after you have inspected it for debris that has gotten stuck in there, you should throw a bunch of ice cubes in , run the unit to clean it out.

                                                    7) There are some municipalities that do not permit food grinders/garbage disposal. Best to check with your local building department to see if they are permitted.

                                                    8) Remember use only a qualified licensed plumbing firm to install your unit.

                                                    5 Replies
                                                    1. re: PHREDDY

                                                      Don't have any of that to worry about as home came with the disposal. Just want to keep it working as good as it has been without any problems. Made a noise first few times I used it and I discovered there was a stone about the size of a quarter in it which I removed. Also know the broom stick handle trick if it ever clogs up as I used to sell warranties on appliances.

                                                      1. re: azDesertGal

                                                        azdgirl---- What is the broomstick handle trick?

                                                        1. re: grangie angie

                                                          As we used to tell all our customers when they called in with disposals that were clogged to take a broom stick handle and push in down into the disposal to see if it would dislodge whatever it was before paying for one of our techs to come to their home.

                                                      2. re: PHREDDY

                                                        Love your #6. I didn't know that and now I'm glad I've been emptying my ice bin in my freeze (to keep it fresh) into my disposals...
                                                        Apparently I've been doing a good thing.
                                                        Good information.

                                                        1. re: PHREDDY

                                                          BTW...thanks for all the information.

                                                          There's nothing worse than having a plumber look at me with that implied 'you stupid idiot moron' for putting something inappropriate down the disposal or a lemon seed left in my glass and put in the dishwasher.
                                                          Been there and done that....a plumber's look can be a killer :).

                                                        2. I never toss leftover lemon peels into the garbage. I always put them down the garbage disposal and it makes it smell great!

                                                          1. No no no! Especially not corn husks, even if you have a five horsepower diaposal. Well, don't do it with corncobs either, or you'll be sorry. Also, don't even think about putting banana peels down there.

                                                            1. As others have said, do not put corn husks or cobs down the garbage disposal. The husks are fibrous and can jam the disposal. The cobs have quite a bit of mass and are quite tough. I would bet both will shorten the life of the disposal. The other point is why? There is no advantage to doing what you suggest.

                                                              We used to live in a house where the disposal clogged with some frequency. Actually it was the pipe running from the disposal to the drain pipe. Anyway, we started to use it only for a bit of stray vegetable material after putting most of it into the compost bin or trash depending on the season. We have since moved but still do the same. A nameless person put a pound and a half of cooked, slimy angel hair pasta down the disposal. Do you know what happens to that about ten or twelve feet below the sink?

                                                              11 Replies
                                                              1. re: John E.

                                                                John E: Just had a $165. plumber bill from too much pasta down the disposal. Whudda thunk it? I've put small amounts down before with no problem, but 1/2 tray of veggie lasagna was too much for the system. Plumber said "no pasta" ever.

                                                                1. re: pine time

                                                                  The disposal handled the pasta just fine. It was the pipes that could not handle it. I avoided the plumber's bill by borrowing a plumber's snake from my brother. It was at least 20 feet long and the kind in which you attached a drill to it to make the brush spin.

                                                                  The garbage disposal ground up the pasta into a starchy mass that was mixed with water and basically turned it into a glue that plugged up the pipe.

                                                                  I put very little vegetable material down the garbage disposal. I would not remove the disposal so I don't have to be super careful about what goes down the drain. The occasional, small amount of vegetable matter still does go down the drain, just not too much of it.

                                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                                    Ok, so here I am responding to myself. I erred this morning. I just got done taking apart the pipes under the kitchen sink because I plugged them up with potato peelings. I think the reason it plugged up is because I had too few peelings. I peeled exactly 2 potatoes. Actually, one medium potato and one small potato. I am making home fries and since I started a no-carb diet, that's how many potatoes I peeled. I thought these few potato peelings would go down the disposal fine. Actually, they went down too fast and too large and plugged up the pipe. It only took ten minutes to clear it, but still... So, I'm putting no vegetable peelings down the disposal. So, what is it good for then?

                                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                                      That's been my conclusion: what's it good for? Now it's just the very minor scrapings from plates going into the dishwasher. All stuff in volume is going either into the composter or the trash. No more $165 'down the drain" for me.

                                                                      1. re: John E.

                                                                        Actually, you may be on to something. It's often not what you put down the disposal, but how fast. I've found you can put virtually anything down it if you go slowly enough and use enough water. We have restaurant faucets on our kitchen sinks (so not subject to the pathetic trickle of the 1.5 or 3 GPM home faucets mandated by law) and with a good water flow and by moderating how fast you feed the peelings into the unit, we've never had a clog in the pipes.

                                                                        Sort of like the coin counters in the supermarkets -- you dump a whole bag of coins into the staging area but only feed a few coins at a time into the slot.

                                                                        I'll regularly peel a whole 20-lb bag of russets at a time and put all the peels down the disposer, but it takes a good few minutes to feed them in with the water blasting. Fortunately, we live in a place where water shortages aren't an issue.

                                                                        1. re: acgold7

                                                                          I think I may have had too much water too. What basically happened is the water flushed the small amount of peelings through without much of a grind and when they hit the 'T' of the pipe a foot away, they plugged up the pipe.

                                                                          The last time I had to take the pipes apart was in December 2004 (the above related pasta tragedy) so I guess I'm doing ok.

                                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                                            If you actually have a "T" fitting in your drain, it is improperly constructed. The connections where drains merge should be "Y" fittings.

                                                                            1. re: GH1618

                                                                              It's a 'T' but the pipe is 1-1/2" so it's still ok, except with too few potato peelings.

                                                                        2. re: John E.

                                                                          Potato peelings should not go through the disposal, although a few small scraps should be ok. The problem is that they are starchy and will stick.

                                                                          The disposal is good for a small amount of vegetable waste as long as it is not too sticky (potatoes) or fibrous (celery). To put more through it, you need to stretch it out in time and use a lot of water. Also avoid grease, which will make everything stick.

                                                                          1. re: GH1618

                                                                            Yea, we never put grease down the sink, if there is enough to pour, it goes into a container or the trash bag and then get wiped out with paper towels. I do occasionally put celery through, but it's just the end pieces that get trimmed off.

                                                                          2. re: John E.

                                                                            I can't put much down the disposal because of old, too small pipes but without it I would have the sink backing up regularly. With it, that is a once a year problem not once a week.

                                                                    2. I had a plumber take out my garbage disposal. I used to have to run it every day because it was constantly clogging up. The amount of water it used! My city accepts meat and veg scraps for compost so dispose of everything that way (in a paper bag). Frankly can't understand the purpose of a garbage disposal. People lived in houses with running water for centuries without need of one.

                                                                      1. When I remodeled my kitchen I bought a medium line disposal with a lifetime warranty. I put everything in it but corn cobs and asparagus. It's been fine for over 20 years. When I say everything I include bones, potato peels, and most things others worry about. The trick was to buy a decent disposal rather than the cheapest. It still only cost around $150.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: Helene Goldberg

                                                                          No matter what the disposal can handle, it can still all go to hell if your pipes can't handle it. I have a great disposal but the pitting in the pipe, which is already 2" when it should have been 3", will get clogged up and everything backs up.

                                                                        2. It's a huge waste of water for a desert gal. Also, all sewage must be treated once it goes in the pipes. You are much better off putting food waste in garbage bag. I only use my disposal for plate scrapings, too. A friend of mine freezes her food waste until garbage day in order to avoid stinkiness. I only use one plastic garbage bag per week (required by my city to use their specific bags) and I rarely have stinkiness. And we cook every night.

                                                                          1. Wow!! I read through all the responses.....I was hoping to read about an ALTERNATIVE use for a disposal....you know, like making soup or shredding cheese.

                                                                            Silly me!!! (I'm kidding people)

                                                                            In all seriousness, please treat your disposal nicely and remember it is not intended to replace either your garbage bin or compost pile. It is an appliance designed to supplement your drainage system.

                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Dee S

                                                                              All I can add is: Don't ever put carrot greens down there. Not ever.

                                                                              1. re: Dee S

                                                                                When researching cider pressing oline I did see that some people use a garabage disposal unit to chop apples fine enough for pressing.
                                                                                And BTW silly or not, your post was the one that made the most sense to me. :-)

                                                                                I know that we live in many different regions with differing options for garbage disposal but but from where I am, I don't actually see a valid purpose for a sink garbage disposal.

                                                                                1. re: Dee S

                                                                                  All I can say is that I put everything down my disposal except asparagus, celery and corn husks and I've been doing it for 30 years with only one minor clog that was fixable with a broom handle twist. I think you have crummy garbage disposals. I bought a medium priced one with a lifetime warranty for about $150. Well worth it.

                                                                                  1. re: Helene Goldberg

                                                                                    For some of us, it is not the disposal but the pipes. No matter how good a disposal, if the pipes can't handle it, there will be problems much bigger that a minor clog. And when you try to ream out old pipes sometimes they give out completely. So it's not about "crummy garbage disposals" but crumbling pipes.

                                                                                2. DON'T put large amounts of sweet potato skins down disposal! Two years in a ROW ended up with a clog on Thanksgiving... on required a "professional" to free the clog. Same thing for raw trimmings from artichokes... or cooked for that matter.

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: kseiverd

                                                                                    I would NEVER do that. The only place for the skins is in my stomach. That is the best part and only part of a potato that I eat.

                                                                                    1. re: kseiverd

                                                                                      Made me laugh (not at you, just the situation in general). My husband the contractor says that Thanksgiving is for plumbers and Christmas is for electricians.

                                                                                      1. re: monfrancisco