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The Do’s and Don’ts of Garbage Disposals

The first garbage disposal was invented in Wisconsin in 1927.  About half of the homes in America now have one, and there’s no doubt that this little appliance plays an important part in the functionality of your kitchen.  It makes cleaning up exponentially easier, and frees your mind from worrying about clogs.  But there are some important facts you may not know about your garbage disposal.  Read on to find out what you should and shouldn’t be putting down the drain.

The name ‘garbage disposal’ can be misleading.  This appliance is not a trash can!  While you probably scrape your plate into the sink without thinking about it, there are some items that your disposal won’t like.  Never put anything in your disposal that isn’t biodegradable.  Metal, plastic, or glass could ruin the blades or the motor.  Coffee grounds seem harmless enough, but they have actually been known to jam disposals.  They are better off in your compost pile.  Fibrous materials, such as onion skins, celery scraps, or corn husks, can prove too difficult for your appliance to take care of.  Don’t risk clogging up the blades, and throw these away instead.  The starch in potato peels creates a gummy substance that sticks to the blades and can cause them to seize.  You might be tempted to pour the grease from last night’s chicken down the drain, but don’t.  Having a disposal doesn’t guarantee that the grease won’t cause a clog.  It can congeal further down in your pipes and cause serious problems.  Rice and pasta pose a similar problem.  Even if they are already cooked, they can swell when they go down the drain.  Even if you get them past your disposal, they could cause a clog later.

That seems like a pretty extensive list of don’ts, but there are plenty of do’s as well, which will maintain your garbage disposal and extend its lifespan.  Always run the tap when you’re running your disposal, and make sure it’s cold water.  The cold water allows any grease that has gone down the drain to be chopped up and sent down the line instead of solidifying later and causing a clog.  Use a lemon, vinegar frozen into ice cubes, or baking soda to clean out your machine and get rid of odors naturally.  Make sure you only put small amounts of food waste into your disposal and give it ample time to grind them up.  The blades can only chop up so much at a time.

Overall, it’s best to scrape the majority of your food scraps into your trash can or compost, and let the garbage disposal only take care of the smaller pieces as you’re washing your dishes.  This will ensure that your disposal remains a valuable part of your kitchen for many years to come.  If you don’t have a garbage disposal or think it might be time for a new one, just call A&W Plumbing.