What You Shouldn’t Put Down Your Garbage Disposal

What You Shouldn’t Put Down Your Garbage Disposal

Garbage disposals are a boon to homeowners. They are an essential part of modern life. They make the kitchen sink less of a headache and help you avoid the smell of rotting food. But the garbage disposal is not a magic wand that can turn anything you put into it into nothing, and that doesn’t mean you should treat them like an all-you-can-eat buffet. 

According to the reports, The average American generates over 4 pounds of garbage per day, and that doesn’t include what they throw away in their trash cans. On top of that, they also use more than 2 million plastic bags every hour. And then there’s the matter of clogged drains!

In fact, garbage disposal is a major cause of clogs in home plumbing systems, accounting for about 30% of all clogs in residential homes.

Garbage disposals are designed for grinding up food waste, but they can’t handle everything—especially when you don’t use your garbage disposal correctly. In addition to the obvious—food waste—there are other items that can cause your garbage disposal to become clogged and eventually break down.

In this article, garbage disposal installation and repair experts in Stafford, VA, will tell you what you shouldn’t put down on your garbage disposal and how to prevent it from getting clogged in the first place.

17 Worst Things To Put Down Your Drain Or Garbage Disposal 

The kitchen sink is the heart of your home. It’s where you clean your dishes, wash your hands, prepare food, and get ready for work. But what if I told you that there are some things that should NEVER go down your kitchen sink drain or garbage disposal?

Well, there are. And they’re bad news. The problem is, many people don’t know about them—and it’s costing them a lot of money in repairs. So today, we’re going to talk about 17 items that are dangerous to put down your drain or garbage disposal.

Grease, fats, and oils

Grease and oil can cause clogs and blockages in your drain pipes. Grease is a combination of animal fat or vegetable oil mixed with water. When the grease cools, it becomes hard and sticks to the pipes, creating a clog. Grease also attracts other food particles to the pipe, which can cause blockages. The best way to prevent this problem is to stop grease from getting into your sink drain by pouring hot water down your sink after cooking with grease-based foods (like bacon).

Coffee grounds

We all know that putting grease, fats, and oils down your drain is a no-no. They can cause clogs and blockages that can leave you with some major plumbing problems. But did you know that coffee grounds are also one of the worst things to go down your drain or garbage disposal?

While they may look like they’d be pretty harmless, coffee grounds are actually laden with chemicals that can wreak havoc on your pipes. Coffee grounds contain oil and acids that can eat away at the metal inside your pipes, causing corrosion and rusting, which can lead to leaks and even explosions. If a pipe bursts in your house because coffee grounds have weakened it, not only will you have an enormous mess to clean up—you’ll likely have to replace the entire pipe if it’s not too badly corroded already!


Eggshells are made of calcium carbonate, which is a type of mineral. It’s not poisonous, but it contains some minerals that can harm your pipes and plumbing. The natural acids in egg whites will dissolve the shells and cause them to clog your drain. If you have a garbage disposal, it will turn your eggshells into small particles, eventually clogging up your drain or garbage disposal. If you put down the sink, you’ll end up with a smelly, gross mess on your hands.

Pasta and rice

Pasta, rice, and other grains are the things not to put down your kitchen sink drain because they expand in size when they come into contact with water in your pipes. This can cause clogs and blockages that will require costly repairs!

Fibrous vegetables

You’ve been warned. Fibrous vegetables are other things not to put down your drain or in your garbage disposal. Often, these are things like celery, asparagus stems, and rhubarb stalks that can get caught up in the blades of your disposal. While they’re fine to put in the compost pile, they should never make it into your sink or garbage disposal.

Potato peels

Don’t put potato peels in, either. Potato peels contain starch that will build up on the sides of your garbage disposal and cause it to jam up. Instead of throwing them away, try boiling them for about 20 minutes until they soften up a bit, and then use them for compost.

Fruit pits

Fruit pits contain oils that can clog up your sink and appliance. They can also be a breeding ground for bacteria, which will cause mold and mildew buildup in your drain pipes if you aren’t careful!


Bones are hard and sharp, so they can cause damage to your disposal blades or even break them off entirely! If you’re trying to grind up some chicken bones for stock, make sure they’re small enough before putting them into the disposal—otherwise, you’ll end up with an expensive repair bill on your hands!

Shrimp shells

Shrimp shells are made of calcium carbonate, which is very hard and can cause your pipes to clog. You may think you’re helping by putting them in your garbage disposal, but you’re doing more harm than good.

Onion skins

Onion skins contain sulfur compounds that can corrode metal, so don’t put them down your drain or garbage disposal unless you want a clogged pipe and a nasty smell coming from your sink.

Corn husks

The worst thing you can put down your drain is corn husks. Corn husks are the tough, fibrous outer leaves of a corn cob. They’re usually discarded after you’ve stripped them from their kernels, but it’s best to keep them out of your garbage disposal and sink drains in particular, as they’re very hard to grind down and can clog your pipes. If you need to dispose of corn husks, compost them or toss them into the trash (with other biodegradable waste).


They are hard to break down, so they can cause a clog. They also have an oily coating that will make them stick to your pipes, which can lead to corrosion over time.

Stringy meats

Stringy meats, like chicken and beef, are a big no-no. Meat fibers can wrap around the blades in the drain, clogging them up and making it impossible for them to do their job properly. 

Fibrous materials

Give your garbage disposal the day off by throwing fibrous materials such as celery and onion peels down the drain. The disposal will have a hard time breaking it all down and could even clog up your pipes.

Paint or chemicals

It doesn’t matter if it’s from your paintbrush, a water filter, or even a swimming pool—all of these things can clog up your pipes and cause major problems.


They may seem harmless enough to flush down the toilet, but if you’ve ever had to call a drain clog cleaning plumber for a blocked pipe, you know how wrong that is! If you’re done taking medicine for whatever ailment it was meant to treat, remember that flushing it down the toilet could cause problems in our water supply.

Cat litter

If you’re thinking about putting cat litter in your garbage disposal, don’t. Although it’s made from clay, which is one of the best materials for absorbing moisture and odor, cat litter contains chemicals that can damage your pipes and even hurt other animals who may be using them as a toilet! Also, like human waste, cat poop can carry harmful bacteria and parasites that can cause illness if they get into drinking water through contaminated plumbing systems.

What Happens When Your Garbage Disposal Is Jammed Or Clogged?

When your garbage disposal is jammed or clogged, it can affect the operation of your kitchen. Here are five things that might happen:

Inability to operate.

The most obvious sign of a clog is that your garbage disposal stops working at all.

Strange noises or vibrations.

If a clog has caused the blades to stop spinning, they may start making strange noises or vibrating. This can also happen if a foreign object gets stuck between the blades, causing them to scrape against each other as they spin around (especially if it’s something hard like glass or metal). 

Risk of damage to the disposal.

If you do not remove the buildup in your garbage disposal and clean out the pipes regularly, it increases the risk of damage to the disposal’s motor. This may cause garbage disposal repair costs that are higher than replacing an older model with a newer model—it can also increase your risk of injury as well as cause damage to other parts of your home.

Slow drainage or backup.

A jammed or clogged disposal can result in slow drainage of water from the sink or cause it to back up. The water may accumulate in the sink, making it difficult to use, and unpleasant odors may arise.

Plumbing issues. 

When a garbage disposal malfunctions, it can cause water and debris to flood your drain pipes. This can cause damage to the entire plumbing system and lead to mold or other problems down the line.

Tools You’ll Need to Clean Your Garbage Disposal or Clogged Drain

When it comes to cleaning your garbage disposal or clearing a clogged drain, having the right tools can make the job easier and more effective. Here are some tools you may need:

  • Flashlight: A flashlight will help you see inside the garbage disposal or drain and identify any blockages or buildup.
  • Pliers: Pliers can be useful for loosening or removing any objects or debris that may be causing the clog. They can also help in turning the disposal blades manually if needed.
  • Allen wrench: Many garbage disposals have a small hole at the bottom that fits an Allen wrench. This tool can be used to rotate the disposal blades and loosen any obstructions manually.
  • Plunger: A plunger can be effective in dislodging clogs in sinks or drains. Use a sink plunger with a flat bottom for best results.
  • Drain snake or auger: A drain snake or auger is a flexible tool designed to reach deep into the drainpipe and break up or remove clogs. It can be inserted through the drain or directly into the garbage disposal to clear obstructions.
  • Baking soda and vinegar: This natural cleaning solution can help to deodorize and break up minor clogs. Pour some baking soda down the drain or garbage disposal, followed by vinegar, and let it sit for a while before flushing it with hot water.
  • Pipe wrench or adjustable wrench: These tools may be needed to loosen and disconnect pipes if the clog is deeper in the plumbing system.

What To Do When You Accidentally Clogged Your Garbage Disposal?

A garbage disposal is a handy tool that helps you eliminate all the unwanted food scraps you don’t want to touch, but sometimes it can be a little too handy. When you accidentally clog your garbage disposal, don’t panic! Here are some steps you should take:

Step 1: Turn off the disposal

Turn off the water and drain the sink before you start working on your clogged garbage disposal.

Step 2: Do not use your hands

Use tongs or pliers to pull out any objects that have fallen into the disposal instead of using your hands. If you must use your hands, wear gloves and make sure to wash them thoroughly afterward.

Step 3: Shine a flashlight into the disposal

Use a flashlight to inspect the inside of the disposal. Look for any visible objects or debris that may be causing the clog. If you can identify the cause and it’s safe to remove, you can use long-handled tongs or pliers to extract it carefully.

Step 4: Use a plunger

Using a plunger to unclog your garbage disposal can be tricky. The first step is to turn off your garbage disposal and remove it from its sink or wall mount. Next, place the plunger in the drain hole, and press down hard. You may need to do this several times before the clog loosens.

Step 5: Run Hot water and dish soap

If you have tried plunging and still have issues with your clogged garbage disposal, try running hot water through it for about 5 minutes, along with some dish soap. This will help loosen any debris that may be causing problems for your disposal unit.

Step 6: Mix baking soda and vinegar

If you have a clogged garbage disposal, you can unclog it with a simple drain cleaning solution: baking soda and vinegar. Pour a cup of baking soda down your sink and follow it up with a cup of vinegar. Then plug the disposal, turn on the cold water, and let the mixture sit for 30 minutes to an hour. The fizzing action should help break up any clogs that are present in your pipes.

Step 7: Try allen wrench

If using vinegar and baking soda doesn’t work, try using an Allen wrench instead. This type of wrench drain cleaner is used by plumbers to fix things in your home’s pipes, so it works well when trying to unclog a garbage disposal. You can find Allen wrenches at most hardware stores or online if needed! Just be sure to use caution when working with this tool—it can cause injury if not used properly!

Step 8: Buy drain chemical cleaners

Chemical drain cleaners are the best drain cleaner for hair clogs, but they can be expensive and may also damage your pipes. If you’re not sure which chemical to buy, consult a professional drain cleaning plumber or check the manufacturer’s instructions for guidance on what to use.

Step 9: Reset the disposal

If your garbage disposal is clogged or jammed, resetting it can often resolve the issue quickly and easily. Here’s how:

a) Turn off the power to the garbage disposal at the circuit breaker box (or remove the fuse).

b) Open cabinet doors under the sink to access the disposal switch and pull out the switch knob on top of the disposal unit (some models have switches on the side).

c) Push the reset button in the hole on the bottom of the unit with straightened wire hanger or small screwdriver (some models require pushing more than one button).

Step 10: Test the disposal

Once the clog is cleared and the disposal is reset, turn on the power and run water into the disposal. Switch on the disposal and listen for any unusual noises or vibrations. If it operates smoothly, the clog is likely resolved. Moreover, if there are no leaks or drips around its base when you turn off the power again, everything should work fine!

DIY Vs. Professional Clogged Drain Cleaning

Drain clogs can be a major headache for homeowners. If you have ever experienced this problem, then you know there is nothing worse than having to wade through buckets of dirty water just to get your sink and bathtub working again. While it may seem like a simple task at first glance, unclogging drains is actually quite complex and requires the use of special equipment in order to clear out debris from drains properly.

There are two main types of drain cleaning services: DIY and professional. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks, depending on what type of clog you have and how much time you want to spend fixing it. 

Here’s a comparison table outlining the differences between DIY (Do-It-Yourself) and professional clogged drain cleaning:

CostGenerally less expensiveCan be more expensive
Skill and knowledge requiredBasic plumbing knowledge helpfulExtensive plumbing expertise needed
Time and effortDepends on the severity of the clog and individual skillTypically quicker and more efficient
Tools and equipmentBasic tools may be sufficientProfessional-grade tools and equipment
EffectivenessEffective for minor clogsMore effective, especially for stubborn or deep clogs
Safety risksCan be safe with proper precautionsProfessionals trained to handle potential hazards
Warranty or guaranteeNoneProfessional services may come with warranties or guarantees
Complex or stubborn clogsMay require professional helpEquipped to handle complex or stubborn clogs
Potential damage to plumbingRisk of causing damage if not done properlyProfessionals minimize the risk of damage
Convenience and peace of mindRequires personal time and effortProfessional service offers convenience and peace of mind
Preventive measures and adviceDIY resources available for preventive maintenanceProfessionals can offer advice for preventing future clogs

How To Prevent Drain Clogs Or Garbage Disposal Clogs?

Do you know how to prevent drain clogs or garbage disposal clogs?

If you don’t, you’re not alone. The fact is that most people don’t know how to do this and end up calling a plumber or paying for expensive repairs. But there’s another way! You can save time, money, and effort by learning how to prevent drain clogs or garbage disposal clogs yourself.

So for you, we’ve put together a few tips for preventing these blockages in the future so that you don’t have to worry about them again:

  • Avoid pouring grease or oil down the drain or garbage disposal.
  • Use a sink strainer to catch food particles and prevent them from going down the drain.
  • Dispose of food scraps in the trash rather than using the garbage disposal excessively.
  • Run cold water while using the garbage disposal to help flush the debris down the drain.
  • Avoid putting fibrous or stringy materials, like celery or onion skins, into the disposal.
  • Regularly clean your garbage disposal by pouring a mixture of baking soda & vinegar down the drain.
  • Do not flush non-biodegradable items, such as wipes or sanitary products, down the toilet.
  • Install drain screens or guards to prevent hair and other debris from clogging bathroom drains.
  • Be cautious with the amount of toilet paper used to prevent toilet clogs.
  • Schedule regular plumbing maintenance to identify and address potential clog-causing issues.


Why is it so important to have your drain cleaned?

Your drains are a major part of your home’s plumbing system. They are the channels that carry water and waste away from your sinks, tubs, and toilets. If your drains become clogged or backed up, the flow of water can be reduced or even stopped altogether. This can lead to serious problems with mold growth, damage to your home’s foundation, and even flooding in some cases.

Is it safe to use chemicals in my sink?

It can be if you follow directions carefully! Follow manufacturer guidelines carefully and never use more than directed or wait longer than recommended before rinsing off the residue. Remember: if you have lead pipes, contact your local utility company before using anything that could potentially damage them (or call us at (540) 659-3295!).

How do I know if my garbage disposal needs to be repaired? 

Your garbage disposal will typically grind up smaller pieces of food before it gets blocked by larger (and harder) pieces of food or other objects that have been thrown down there. If you’re noticing that your garbage disposal isn’t working as well as it used to, it may need replacing or fixing.

How to prevent pipes from freezing?

The best way to prevent pipes from freezing is to keep the temperature in your home above 20 degrees Fahrenheit. If you live in a colder climate, it’s important to remember that heat rises. Keeping your basement warmer than the rest of your house can help prevent problems with frozen pipes. You should also be sure to insulate any exposed pipes and wrap them in foam or cloth, especially if they are near windows or doors often opened or closed during cold weather.

How long does it take to install a new garbage disposal?

It usually takes us about 30 minutes to install one if there aren’t any major issues with your current setup. We’ll send an experienced technician out to ensure everything’s running smoothly before we start!

Get Help from Professional Garbage Disposal Installation & Repair Experts in Stafford, VA!

Your garbage disposal is the heart of your kitchen, so when it stops working, it can leave you feeling like the whole house has come to a standstill.

So, are you looking for a professional garbage disposal installation and repair expert in Stafford, VA?

Haynes Plumbing Services has been serving the community of Stafford for over 25 years. We are fully licensed and insured, with a proven track record of providing top-notch plumbing service at an affordable price. 

We offer all our clients in Stafford and the surrounding area:

– A free, no-obligation quote

– Professional plumbing services from licensed professionals (including 24/7 service)

– Workmanship guaranteed for life

– A 100% guarantee on all parts and labor

– Garbage Disposal Installation & Repair Service

– Drain Clogs and Toilet Clogs Cleaning

– Sink Installation & Repair

– Water Heater Repair & Installation

We know that sometimes your garbage disposal is just not working right. Maybe it’s making a weird noise or getting clogged up with food debris, and you need to help unclog it. Whatever the issue may be, our team of licensed plumbers can help! Our expert technicians will be able to identify any problems with your garbage disposal and fix them quickly and efficiently.

We offer also drain cleaning services at affordable rates. We will come to your home or business and evaluate the problem, then provide you with an accurate estimate. Our team of highly trained professionals will get the job done right the first time! 
So, if you’re looking for a reliable plumber in Stafford, VA, who knows how to solve all your plumbing problems, look no further than Haynes Plumbing Services! From drain cleaning to garbage disposal installation and repair, we’ve got your back. Call us today at (540) 659-3295!


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