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Garbage Disposal Do’s And Don’ts

Garbage disposals are useful. A garbage disposal unit (also known as a garbage disposal, waste disposal unit, garbage disposer, or in Canadian English a garburator) is a device, usually electrically powered, installed under a kitchen sink between the sink’s drain and the trap. The disposal unit shreds food waste into pieces small enough—generally less than 2 mm (0.079 in)—to pass through plumbing.

Garbage disposal units are used extensively in United States households, but are far less common elsewhere.

What NEVER to put in your garbage disposal:

  • Asparagus
  • Artichoke leaves
  • Banana skins
  • Celery
  • Chicken bones (bones of any kind)
  • Coffee filters
  • Cooked rice
  • Egg shells
  • Grease of any type
  • Green onion tops
  • Onion skins
  • Potato peels
  • Shrimp shells
  • Tea bags

The items in the list above combine to damage the appliance (bones), plug the drain piping (banana peels), and load up the local waste water utility.  New York City banned garbage disposals during the mid-90’s because of the difficulty of properly treating the water.  Even though this ban was eventually rescinded, it is still widely accepted among municipalities nationwide the energy and water usage required to process food scraps is substantial.

While there is a valid opposing point of view regarding food scraps sent to the landfill creating methane gas, considered to be a greenhouse gas, the larger argument says food waste is something of which we should all be cognizant and take appropriate steps to dispose of properly.

What can you do?  Only allow down the drain what is being washed off the plate.  Use cold water before, during, and after the disposal process. Scraps should be introduced into the system slowly and sparingly.  Once a week, fill your disposer with ice cubes, then run with water.  Once a month, place two tablespoons of baking soda, followed by 1/2 cup of white vinegar into the disposal. Rinse with cold water after a couple of minutes.  Never buy a disposal that’s less than 1/2 horsepower (HP); 3/4 HP would be better.  Lastly, consider a compost bin.