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Reliance Plumbing Sewer & Drainage, Inc. Blog

Wait! Don’t Put That Down Your Garbage Disposal!


It’s incredibly handy to have a garbage disposal in your kitchen sink. It makes cleanup so much easier, especially if you have a large family or frequently host guests. And it can cut down on unpleasant odors from your trash can, since it won’t be full of decomposing food. So you want to take excellent care of that disposal, and keep it in good condition for as long as possible.

The most critical thing you can do is to make sure the disposal doesn’t get damaged by items that shouldn’t have gone down the sink at all. This means knowing exactly what should go down the disposal and—most importantly—what shouldn’t. How can you tell? Consult this handy list!

Non-Disposal Items

  • Garbage: Despite the misleading name, a garbage disposal is not actually for garbage. It’s only for food waste. Plastic containers, lids, bags, or wraps will damage it. Metal, such as a bottlecap or piece of foil, is also a serious hazard to the disposal. 
  • Hard Items: If an item is too hard to chew, it’s too hard for the disposal to grind up. This includes bones from meat, pits from fruit, popcorn kernels, or anything else of this very solid texture.
  • Fibrous Items: Anything with tough strings is not safe for your disposal. These fibers can tangle up and prevent the disposal from working. This includes stalks of celery or rhubarb, corn husks, citrus fruits, and pineapple cores. 
  • Gum: This one might be obvious, but chewing gum would really gum up the works of your disposal. Throw it in the trash instead.
  • Ice Cubes: Sometimes, people hear advice to put ice cubes down the disposal. People occasionally say that this will sharpen the blades! The truth is that garbage disposals don’t have blades. They have blunt impellers that push the food against a grinding ring around the outside of the drain. Ice is too hard for the disposal and will only cause problems, not help to resolve them.
  • Fat, Oils, and Grease: These substances, which plumbers sometimes refer to as FOG, can cause major blockages in your garbage disposal. Why? Because although they might wash down the drain as a liquid, they quickly solidify once they cool. Imagine your drain pipe blocked with something as solid as a stick of cold butter! To prevent this, wipe the fat off dishes before washing them.

When Your Garbage Disposal Has a Problem

If there’s an unpleasant odor coming from your garbage disposal, try pouring about a cup of baking soda down the sink, followed by a cup of vinegar. Let it foam for ten minutes and then rinse it down with water. This will help to dislodge and clean any decomposing food residue that might be causing the odor. If this doesn’t resolve your issue, you need a plumber to address it. 

If for any reason your disposal’s operation is compromised, absolutely never put your hand into it! If there’s something obvious in the way, like a bone, turn off the disposal and try to dislodge it with the long handle of a wooden spoon or a similar implement. Otherwise, you’ll need garbage disposal plumbing in Winnetka, IL. Keep your fingers safe and call a professional!

For expert plumbing service, installations, or maintenance, contact Reliance Plumbing Sewer & Drainage, Inc. Our knowledgeable plumbers serve the North Shore and Northwest Chicago suburbs. Rely on Reliance!

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