Owning a garbage disposal can be a great way to more easily dispose of food waste and keep drains from clogging up. However, not all food is safe for your disposal. The best way to keep your garbage disposal in top shape and your drains clear is to learn what is good and bad to put down the drain.

How Garbage Disposals Work

A garbage disposal is a machine mounted underneath your sink. The disposal connects to the drain on the top end and the drainage pipe on the other side. Inside the disposal are blades and teeth that circulate when powered on to pulverize food that goes down the drain. Most garbage disposals are hard-wired, allowing you to flip a switch to power them on.

Items That Are Safe for Your Garbage Disposal

A garbage disposal allows you to cut down on food in the trash and may help eliminate trash odors. Some foods are perfectly safe to put down the drain and garbage disposal. Other food items are even beneficial for your garbage disposal. If you have a garbage disposal, you must learn what is good and bad for the unit.

Citrus Fruits

Lemons, limes, and oranges are beneficial for your garbage disposal. These citrus fruits help freshen the smell of your garbage disposal and drain. They also wash away lingering food odors. Remove the peels and rinds or cut them into small pieces before tossing the fruit down the drain. Fruit peels can be hard on your disposal and overwork the unit if they are too large.

Ice Cubes

Hard chunks of ice help clean the garbage disposal by pushing food around and scraping food residue from the sides of the reservoir. Putting ice cubes through the garbage disposal helps clean the unit and remove foul odors.


Most liquids are safe for the garbage disposal and your plumbing system. Hot and cold water, beverages, and juices from foods move through the disposal and pipes without causing clogs. Soups are generally safe to go down the drain as well. Just know which liquids, such as grease and oil, should be kept out of the drain and disposal.

Soft Foods

Soft foods are generally safe for your garbage disposal. Like liquids, they take no effort to turn into pulp and pulverize, so they move freely through the plumbing. Once again, read through the list of off-limits food items because some soft foods can be deceptive.

Dish Soap

Another simple way to clean your garbage disposal is to use dish soap and water. Add a few drops of soap when you run water down the drain. The soap will spin around in the disposal and clean the reservoir and blades.

Cooked Meat

Cooked meats are safe for your garbage disposal. Just make sure the pieces of meat are small so they don’t overwork the motor.

Off-Limit Items for the Garbage Disposal

Now, let’s talk about the things you cannot safely put down the drain and through the garbage disposal. Unfortunately, your garbage disposal cannot handle all food items, nor is it designed to chew through non-food items. Learn which foods are unsafe for your disposal to prevent ruining the machine or causing plumbing problems.

Grease and Oil

Grease and oil are a plumber’s worst nightmare in the kitchen sink. Even with hot water, never put grease down the drain. Grease hardens as it cools and can clog your garbage disposal and pipes, leading to a backed-up sink. The best way to dispose of hot grease and oil is to pour it into a glass container and let it cool before tossing it in the trash.


Animal bones are rough on your garbage disposal for a few reasons. First, the bones are hard and make the motor of your unit work extra hard to try and pulverize them. They can also damage the blades of your disposal. Some bones are sharp and pointed, which can puncture your drain and damage your pipes. Many bones are also irregularly shaped, making them prone to get stuck in the plumbing drains.


Eggshells may seem soft enough to go through the disposal, but the shell itself isn’t the problem. Eggshells have a membrane lining that can stick to the inside of your garbage disposal and the teeth of the unit. The sticky membrane may pull other substances into it, forming a clog.

Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds may be the most surprising no-no food item on the list. You might assume that coffee grounds split apart and wash away easily with water, but the opposite is true. Coffee grounds clump together when they get wet. This clump of ground coffee can form a blob in the garbage disposal and clog your drain.

Bread, Pasta, and Flour

Flour, which makes up bread and pasta, clumps together when wet. Flushing flour or floury foods down the drain creates the risk of the food expanding and clumping together in the garbage disposal or drain. Additionally, these foods harden when they dry, so if they are not flushed through the system completely, they may be left to dry out. Dried, they will create a hard buildup on the sides of your disposal’s reservoir or pipes.

Raw Meats

Raw meats are soft enough to go through the garbage disposal. However, because they pose health risks when not cooked, any raw meat in the disposal or pipes can grow bacteria and other harmful toxins, creating an unhealthy plumbing system.

Fibrous Vegetables

Fibrous vegetables are stringy, and those strings can wrap around the blades of your garbage disposal. When these strands tangle up inside your unit, they may slow down the movement of the blades and put added stress on the motor. They can also trap other foods, creating a clog. Vegetables are great for compost.

Non-Food Items

While it may seem obvious that a garbage disposal is for food and liquid only, you might be surprised what things people put down the drain. No trash should ever go through the garbage disposal. Remove fruit stickers and throw away food wrappers and packaging to avoid these items sticking inside the garbage disposal.


You can find chemicals marketed for plumbing like drain cleaners and unclogging products. However, these chemicals are harsh and not ideal for your plumbing system. If you have a slow drain or clog, call a professional plumber to clean your drains and avoid harming your pipes.

Our Plumbing Experts

If you own a garbage disposal, you must understand how it works and what items are safe for the unit. If your garbage disposal fails, call one of our professional plumbers at Half Moon Plumbing. Our plumbers are experts when it comes to your garbage disposal. We also offer common household plumbing, leak detection, drain cleaning, and pipe lining services. Count on us for all your plumbing needs, and we’ll show you why our customers think we’re the best.

For the top garbage disposal installation and repair services in Owasso, call Half Moon Plumbing.

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