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13 things you should never put in the garbage disposal

Your garbage disposal really isn't as tough as you think

Credit: Getty Images

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When you turn on the garbage disposal, it's like magic. Poof, and the clog is gone! However, when you flick that switch and the clog remains, the magic turns off, and the anger sets in. If you don't want your kitchen sink to back up, here's what to avoid putting down the drain, because your garbage disposal can't handle these.

1. Pasta and rice

The fact that rice and pasta expand when exposed to water makes it a mistake to put it down the drain.

Al dente when they come out of the pot, but decidedly less so when they make it to your sink. They have a penchant to absorb liquid, and the elastic nature of pasta and rice, make them likely to gum up the inner workings of your disposal.

2. Coffee grounds

Coffee can clog up drains.
Credit: Reviewed / Jonathan Chan

Coffee can clog up drains.

The next time you make coffee, take a look inside the filter. You'll notice a thick, wadded mass–the bad coffee cake, if you will. This mass can leave your disposal nonfunctional. Instead of throwing it down the drain, put in your garden instead.

3. Pits

Peach stones can dent and chip your disposal blade.

We're not talking about holes in the ground, but rather seeds from fruits like peaches and avocados. There's a reason they're also called stones. In fact, peach pits are tough enough to dent and chip the blades of your disposal.

4. Stringy vegetables

Fiber may good for you, but it's not good for your disposal.

Vegetables like celery or pumpkins have a lot of fibrous tissue in them. These fibers can get tangled up around the blades of disposal, requiring an expensive service call.

5. Shells

Shells are meant to be tough.

There's a reason why creatures grow shells. Whether they're from oysters, lobsters, or turtles, best to put bits of shell in the compost or trash.

6. Boiling hot water

Hot water isn't good for your pipes. What isn't good for your pipes, isn't good for your disposal.

Boiling water can warp PVC pipes over time and weaken the glue at the joints. Since your garbage disposal sits in said pipe, boiling hot water isn't good for it either.

7. Paint

Paint shouldn't go down the kitchen sink.

Whether it's latex or oil-based, paint should not go down the sink. It clings to the sides and hardens, slowly choking off your drain.

8. Grease and oil

The blades of your garbage disposal can't cut grease.

Grease occupies that sweet spot of being too gloppy to be broken up by a garbage disposal's blades, but too viscous to let water pass.

9. Excessive bones

Cow bones can damage your disposal.

While the occasional chicken wing isn't the end of the world, a rack of ribs in the disposal will leave it having a bone to pick with you.

10. Chewing gum

You don't want bubble gum to gum up the works.

It's an urban legend that it takes seven years to digest chewing gum, though it might actually take that long to unclog your pipes of too much Bazooka.

11. Lettuce

This salad staple does not good well with your garbage disposal.

Let us vow to not put lettuce in the garbage disposal. This tough salad staple can turn your sink into a green mess.

12. Potato peels

Potatoes go in stews, not the garbage disposal.

Potatoes should be mashed, stewed, and fried. However, their peels should not go in the garbage disposal, since they can slip past the disposal and clog the drain.

13. Actual garbage

True-blue garbage needs to go in the trash.

The name may be misleading, but your garbage disposal isn't actually meant for things like candy wrappers, paper towels, and wipes.

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