Garbage disposals were a great invention and are a helpful addition to your kitchen — no more catching food and having to dig it out of your sink to throw away in the trash can. But the best rule of thumb when using yours is the mantra: “Less is more.” Your garbage disposal was really only meant to take care of little scraps that escape down the drain and clog things up; it wasn’t designed to be a second garbage can.
So, to make sure you don’t have to call us out to fix your garbage disposal anytime soon, here are 10 things to avoid putting down your drain:
1. Egg Shells
These may seem fragile and safe for your disposal to break down, but they can actually get stuck to the sides of the tank and your drain, eventually causing clogs that are difficult to clear out. Instead of tossing them in your sink, make sure they get thrown away. Or better yet, start a compost pile and add them into that. They make great compost!
2. Coffee Grounds
Speaking of compost, coffee grounds are a great addition to your pile. They’re also one of the worst things you can put down your drain because they attract grease and then cause build-up and create grime that’s expensive to clear out.
3. Oil & Grease
Not only does grease clog your pipes, but it can also seriously ruin them. It already typically costs about $195 to clear your drains, but replacing the pipe adds an additional cost that is totally avoidable. So when you cook with oil or need to drain excess grease from meats, don’t dump it down the sink. Instead, catch it in a bowl, set it aside to harden, and then scrape it into your garbage can.
4. Fruit Pits
These can easily dent or crack the blades in your disposal, so you should toss them in your trash can. You’ll also want to avoid avocado pits. To freshen up your kitchen, it’s fine to throw in lemon or lime rinds when you’re finished with them to give your kitchen a bright, clean scent.
5. Potato Peels
If these don’t get ground up in your garbage disposal, they can easily get stuck to the sides of the tank and your drains, causing lots of blockage in your pipes. They actually turn into a gluey substance so they can be expensive to clean out, too.
If you’ve ever cooked pasta, you know that it expands as it cooks, and if dumped down your drain, it can expand there as well, causing a clog. Save your leftovers or toss in the trash, but avoid throwing them down your drain!
7. Beans & Rice
Like other carbs previously discussed (pasta and potato peels), beans and rice both turn into starchy, dense substances that can clog your drains. A few rice grains or stray beans won’t hurt anything, but you’ll really want to throw anything more than that in your trash.
8. Seafood Shells
It could seem like a good idea to let your garbage disposal crush these so they don’t make your trash smell, but like fruit pits, it’s not a good idea to toss these in your drain. Throw them away, cover your trash and don’t forget to take it out on garbage day!
Even if you’re using water-based paint, it’s not a good idea to dump any of it down your drain. It can stick to your pipes and catch other food along the way, keeping it from clearing out properly. Most cities have hazardous waste facilities where you can get rid of extra paint. Google or ask the people who sold you the paint where you can dispose of it safely.
Whether your prescription has expired or you no longer need it, don’t ever throw your medicine down the drain or toilet. It may not cause your drains to clog, but it can impact water quality around you, which could be harmful to you and others. Instead, you can take it to your local pharmacy where it can be disposed of with other medical waste.
If you avoid putting these things down your drain, your garbage disposal will last longer, work more effectively, and your pipes will remain clog-free. All of this means fewer plumbing repairs and more money in your pocket for that vacation you’ve been planning!
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