What Can You Put in the Garbage Disposal?


A garbage disposal is a convenient kitchen appliance that plays a vital role in reducing food waste and minimizing the strain on landfills. However, using it incorrectly can lead to clogs, damage, and costly repairs. Today we will dive into what you can safely put in a garbage disposal and what items you should avoid. 

By understanding the reasons behind these recommendations, you will be equipped to make informed decisions about waste disposal in your kitchen. Additionally, if you reside near Youngsville, North Carolina and have any questions regarding your garbage disposal, we encourage you to contact White’s Plumbing for expert advice and assistance. Our expert team is here to help you with any of your garbage disposal needs.

What You Can Put in the Garbage Disposal

Soft Food Scraps

One of the primary purposes of a garbage disposal is to handle soft food scraps. These include fruits, vegetables, and cooked leftovers. The disposal’s robust motor and sharp blades can effectively break down these items, allowing them to flow through the plumbing system without causing any issues.

Fruits and vegetables on an old table painted blue


You can safely dispose of various fruits like apple slices, berries, melon rinds (cut into smaller pieces), and citrus fruits. Citrus peels, such as those from oranges, lemons, and limes, can actually help freshen the disposal and eliminate odors.


You can dispose of cooked or raw vegetables, such as carrot peels, lettuce, tomato scraps, and broccoli stalks down your garbage disposal. Keep in mind that it’s important to cut larger pieces into smaller chunks to facilitate easier grinding, as well as to prevent clogging and overexerting your disposal.

Cooked Leftovers

Small amounts of cooked leftovers can be safely disposed of in the garbage disposal. Avoid large quantities to prevent potential clogs.  Please be careful of what foods you put down the garbage disposal – if it is in the list of foods that should not be discarded in your garbage disposal, it is a good idea to throw it in the trash instead.

Ice Cubes

Throwing a few ice cubes down the disposal not only helps to clean the blades but also assists in dislodging any built-up debris. The ice cubes act as a natural abrasive, ensuring optimal performance and prolonging the lifespan of your garbage disposal.

eggshells in a white color bowl on table


Eggshells can be ground up in the garbage disposal, aiding in the cleaning of the blades. However, it’s essential to crush them into small pieces before disposing of them to prevent potential clogs. The shell fragments help to scrape away any residual waste from the disposal chamber.

What You Shouldn’t Put in the Garbage Disposal

Grease, Oil, and Fat

Grease, oil, and fat should never be poured down the garbage disposal. When hot, they are liquid and may appear harmless, but as they cool down, they solidify and create a sticky residue. This can lead to clogs not only in the disposal unit but also in the pipes and plumbing system. Instead, allow grease, oil, and fat to cool in a container and dispose of them in the regular trash or consider recycling them.

Fibrous Vegetables

Fibrous vegetables possess long, stringy fibers that can wrap around the blades of the garbage disposal, causing clogs and potential damage. Examples of such vegetables include celery, corn husks, onion skins, and artichokes. It is best to discard these items in the regular trash or consider composting them.

Coffee Grounds

While it may seem harmless to dispose of coffee grounds in the garbage disposal, they can accumulate and create a sludgy mess. This accumulation can lead to blockages in the plumbing system. Instead of using the garbage disposal, consider disposing of coffee grounds in the trash or use them for composting as they can enrich the soil in your garden.

Milled rice in a bowl and a wooden spoon on the black cement floor.

Starchy Foods

Starchy foods have a tendency to expand when mixed with water, creating a gummy substance. This can lead to clogs not only in the garbage disposal but also in the pipes. Avoid disposing of starchy foods such as rice, pasta, and potato peels in the garbage disposal. Instead, dispose of them in the regular trash or consider composting them.

Non-Food Items

It is crucial to remember that garbage disposals are designed for food waste only. Non-food items such as glass, metal, plastic, paper, and cigarette butts should never be put in the garbage disposal. These items can damage the blades, cause blockages, and potentially lead to costly repairs. Always dispose of non-food items in the appropriate recycling or waste bins.

Contact White’s Plumbing Today

Understanding what items can and cannot be put in a garbage disposal is crucial for maintaining its proper functioning and preventing plumbing issues. By following the guidelines outlined in this comprehensive article, you can use your garbage disposal safely and effectively, reducing waste and promoting a cleaner environment. Remember, when in doubt, it’s always best to dispose of questionable items in the regular trash or seek professional advice.

Proper use and maintenance of your garbage disposal are essential to ensure its longevity and avoid unnecessary repairs. If you reside near Youngsville, North Carolina, and have any questions or concerns about your garbage disposal, I encourage you to contact White’s Plumbing. Our team of expert plumbers will be more than happy to provide you with guidance, answer any queries you may have, and offer assistance in ensuring that your kitchen waste disposal needs are met effectively and efficiently.

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