Skip to main content

Trash or Disposal?: Top Things That Your Disposal Can't Process

Despite its name, a garbage disposal cannot truly handle everything that homeowners may put through its blades. It's easy for many people to simply brush off food and other items into the drain while they're cleaning plates, cooking or cleaning. However, there are some items that are directly harmful to the health of your disposal and can cause issues within your pipes in the future. Let's take a look at a few items that your disposal can't process and should be committed to the trash instead:


Grease, oils and fats that develop from grilling and other meals should not be put down the drain. Although it may seems like an easy way to get rid of these substances, they actually create a film over the blades, making a slow build up leading to clogs and ineffective grinding. When the grease decays, it could also lead to unpleasant odors emanating from your disposal. If you need to get rid of grease, simply pour it into a container, wait for it to harden and throw it away with your normal garbage.

Fibrous foods

Long or stringy foods like banana peels, artichokes, onion skins, corn husks, celery and asparagus should never be put down the disposal. The strings from these foods can wrap around the disposal blades, causing the motor to seize. In addition, fibrous materials are fairly tough to process, making it easy to jam or block a disposal. Fibrous foods should be ones for the trash. If you're feeling industrious, you could also use these materials for compost or fertilizer.


Fried chicken is a quintessential example of a food that is delicious but contains bones. Unfortunately, these bones cannot go down the disposal. Bones are simply too hard for even industrial-grade disposals to grind. Many bones are too big to easily go down the drain, potentially causing the disposal blades to break or even burn out the motor. Although some people say that items like fish bones and other weak or small bones can be used with a garbage disposal, you're better off simply throwing them away and avoiding issues altogether.

Expansive foods

Items like rice, quinoa, pasta and couscous are made to expand when absorbing water. When putting these foods down the drain, what would happen? Even if it's cooked, the food can swell in the drain, blocking it or it could fill the disposal trap. This food is especially important for homeowners to watch out for because even if it's chopped up well, it can easily stick to the drain and cause big problems down the line. Bread should also be thrown out because it can expand with water and could block the blades and drain from working properly.

Coffee grounds and eggshells

Although these two foods are vastly different, their effects on your garbage disposal are very similar. When coffee grounds and eggshells are ground up, their particles take on a sand-like consistency that can cause pipe obstructions. Although some people have stated that it's safe to use coffee grounds to deodorize your disposal or that eggshells will strengthen the blades, it's actually better to throw these items away or use them as compost or fertilizer. This will save you a lot of headache down the road and keep your disposal running.

The kitchen disposal is one of the most used and abused appliances in the kitchen, but by keeping these items out of the drain, you'll be able to use it more effectively. If you find that your disposal has been clogged, call your local Roto-Rooter expert today!