Don't Put That Down the Garbage Disposal

Don't put that down the garbage disposal written next to 100 dollar bills

As you prepare for Thanksgiving Day and all the cooking that entails, you carefully double-check that you have all the ingredients you need. Willing helpers work in stations around the kitchen to make your job easier. One person peels potatoes and carrots, one stuffs the turkey, and someone else is constructing the pumpkin pie.

The problem is if you don't watch closely, anything and everything could end up in the kitchen sink during cleanup. To make sure you don't end up with a plumbing disaster on your hands - an issue that will certainly put a damper on your thankful attitude - make sure you follow these tips and avoid putting certain things down the garbage disposal.

What Not to Put Down the Disposal

  • Fibrous foods: Many foods that go into making a traditional Thanksgiving meal don't belong down the disposal. Fibrous foods are big contenders and include celery, corn husks, carrots, onion skins, potato peels, asparagus, and artichokes. These tend to wrap around the disposal blades, potentially damaging the motor, so toss them in the trash instead of down the sink.
  • Starchy foods: Think about what happens when you overcook pasta, rice, potatoes, or beans. They turn into a pasty substance capable of clogging the kitchen drain if you dispose of them there. Throw them in the trash instead of sweeping them down the drain to avoid a clog.
  • Grease and oil: The extra grease from making turkey gravy, bacon, and ground beef doesn't belong down the garbage disposal. This substance may be liquid when it's hot, but as it cools it solidifies into a gelatinous glob. As you can imagine, this is bad news for your plumbing. To properly dispose of grease and oil, pour it into an old can or jar and throw it in the trash.
  • Egg shells: There's a longstanding rumor that egg shells are good for disposal because they sharpen the blades. This rumor is false! The membrane layers of eggshells can wrap around the shredder ring, potentially damaging the disposal, not to mention the sand-like consistency of eggshells can cause pipes to clog.
  • Hard materials: Some things are just too hard for the disposal blades to handle, including turkey bones and fruit pits. Feel free to pull apart the wishbone with a family member; just dispose of it in the trash afterward.
  • Non-food items: Never put anything you wouldn't eat down the drain. This includes twist ties, rubber bands, string, cigarette butts, bottle caps, and plant clippings. These items don't break down in the disposal, allowing them to clog the sink.
  • Cleaning chemicals: Drain opener, lye and other chemical cleaners are not appropriate for the kitchen sink. If the drain becomes clogged and the disposal isn't helping, call a plumber for professional assistance.

Other Disposal Tips

Just about any food item other than those listed above is okay to put down the disposal in reasonable amounts. When disposing of food, run cold water at the same time to help flush debris down the drain.

To keep your drain fresh, run a handful of ice cubes and a few strips of lemon, lime, or orange peel through the disposal. The ice helps freeze and remove items stuck to the blades and the citrus leaves a fresh scent behind.

Cooking and cleaning up after Thanksgiving is demanding enough without a clogged kitchen sink to worry about. Follow these tips and you should be all set to enjoy your holiday free from plumbing trouble! However, if an emergency does strike, don't hesitate to contact Mr. Rooter®.