Not all kitchens have a garbage disposal, but they have only grown in popularity in United States households since their invention in 1940.

Not all kitchens have a garbage disposal, but they have only grown in popularity in United States households since their invention in 1940. Today, they are not very common in other countries, but more than half of all homes in the U.S. have a garbage disposal system.

The garbage disposal is an important part of your kitchen plumbing, working to eliminate large pieces of food waste and prevent them from stopping up your sink and causing larger plumbing issues further down the line.

There are general guidelines every homeowner should follow about what you can put into a garbage disposal, what you shouldn’t put into a garbage disposal, and general maintenance tips to extend its longevity and efficiency. But we’re going to start at the very beginning.

What is the purpose of a garbage disposal?

Some homeowners think that their garbage disposal saves them the hassle of scraping dinner dishes because their sink will handle all that hassle. This mentality is a quick way to abuse your garbage disposal and slow down its efficiency and longevity.

The purpose of having a garbage disposal is to decrease kitchen waste and grind up small food scraps into liquid, allowing existing infrastructures, like underground sewers and wastewater treatment plants, to manage their disposal.

Solid food scraps in our plumbing and wastewater treatment facilities pose dangers to our environment and damage to our existing infrastructures.

Sharp edges in the grinding portion of the disposal use water as a lubricant and grind up food particles until they are small enough to fit through openings that then send it down the drain.

So your garbage disposal is used not just for your convenience, but as a way to better preserve our environment and ensure that large food particles are not treated along with wastewater, damaging our systems and potentially our environment.

Thanks for doing your part to preserve our environment. Now, what can you do to preserve the life of your equipment? Follow the rules below.

What can you put in the garbage disposal?

The easiest items for your garbage disposal to handle are soft and malleable. This includes:

  • Fruits
  • Most vegetables
  • Bread, pasta, rice, or cereal

Keep in mind that if leftovers on plates are large, they should really be put into a solid waste container rather than forced down your garbage disposal.

There is one way you can lubricate a garbage disposal: water. It works as a lubricant for the blades in the system and prevents them from grinding when you start the system. Not flushing water through the drain while you’re using it is a surefire way to cause damage to the equipment.

What should you not put in a garbage disposal?

Generally speaking, your garbage disposal was designed to handle small pieces of food waste, but there are a few specific items that are definitely not good for the longevity of the equipment or your wastewater system in general.

Bones, frozen items, popcorn kernels or hard seeds, and nuts.

These items are not easily broken down by your disposal and can cause damage to the blades. Even if your disposal does break these up into smaller pieces, they cannot be treated the same way as wastewater, therefore they shouldn’t be disposed of down a drain.


This vegetable is so fibrous that its strings can get caught in the blades of the disposal and not pass through entirely.

Meat fat and gristle

Because of the gummy texture of meat and fat, the blades have a difficult time chopping it up into tiny pieces.

Foreign objects

It goes without saying, your kitchen plumbing is not meant to dispose of foreign objects.

Not only are some of those items difficult for your disposal to process, but if they do not properly pass through the drain, they can become stuck in the in-between, grow bacteria and cause a dreaded odor.

You also should not put WD-40 down your garbage disposal in an effort to lubricate it, as this toxic material can cause damage.

Green Apple Plumbing & Mechanical NJ are the experts you can trust. We have been serving the New Jersey area for years with professionalism and expertise. Customer service and care are always our number one priorities. If you have any questions or concerns regarding any of your HVAC or plumbing needs call Green Apple toll-free at 888-315-5564

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