Are you using your garbage disposal the right way? These basic Do’s and Don’ts might surprise you.

With the heat of summer also comes the summer holidays and joy of hosting summer parties. But that also means lots and lots (and we mean lots) of leftover food. When cleanup time rolls around, we know you have been tempted to empty a tray of leftover veggies or dip directly into the garbage disposal.

Or, maybe you already do that? After all, the garbage disposal has extra powerful blades that can help dispose of all those unwanted leftovers, saving you refrigerator space and from a stinky trash can. However, before you think about pouring Aunt Susan’s leftover broccoli salad down the drain, you should know the basic Dos and Don’ts of operating a garbage disposal to ensure your disposal stays issue and odor free.


Disposal Don’ts

Let’s start with the list of don’ts. Contrary to popular opinion, garbage disposals were never intended to handle high volumes of food and therefore, disposing large amounts of food waste is a major no-no. Pouring large volumes of food can overheat the disposal, jam the blades, and lead to clogged pipes. Here are a few other don’ts you should avoid to prevent future repairs or replacements of your disposal or plumbing system.

  1. Pour grease and fat down the drain. Grease and oils should never be disposed of down the drain. Doing so can not only cause damage to the unit itself but can also lead to blockages in the pipes.
  2.  Dispose of hazardous materials down the sink. Pouring hazardous chemicals down the sink can not only cause damage to your garbage disposal and plumbing system, but it can also pollute drinking water by making its way to wastewater treatment plants. This also applies to toilets and other household drains. Click here to read more on the effects of pouring hazardous chemicals down the drain.
  3. Foods that should never be disposed of in a garbage disposal include:

 Granular foods like seeds, popcorn kernels, coffee grounds, and eggshells can get stuck in between the wall of the unit and the shredder ring and lead to permanent damage.

  • Starchy foods like pasta, rice, bread, and potatoes can expand and cause blockages in your pipes.
  • Foods with fibrous material like celery, onion skins, green beans, pumpkin, squash, or artichokes. These items can get tangled in the blades and cause the garbage disposal to jam up.
  • Hard materials like fruit pits and animal bones from chicken, beef, pork, etc. can be too difficult for the blades to grind.

Disposal Do’s

Following the list of don’ts will help prevent damage from occurring, but following this list of dos will help keep your disposal running as it should on a daily basis. The garbage disposal is an excellent addition to any kitchen, but like any other appliance, it must be properly maintained to stay problem free as long as possible. Here are a few dos to keep your disposal in tip-top shape:

  1. Keep the disposal clean. It is important to keep the garbage disposal clean and free of debris to ensure the blades do not get gummed up with waste. This will not only keep the disposal and blades clean, it will also keep it running as intended. Continue reading to learn the best cleaning options to keep your disposal debris and odor free.
  2. Scrape very small amounts of food waste from plates or bowls. While it is not okay to dispose of large amounts of food in the garbage disposal, it is okay to scrape small bits and fragments that are left on a plate or bowl. This is how the garbage disposal was designed and intended to be used.  
  3. Run it regularly. Like other household appliances, running your garbage disposal regularly will keep the blades moving and prevent obstructions from occurring. It will also help to prevent the disposal from rusting or corroding over time.
  4. Use cold water. While some may argue that it doesn’t matter if you use cold water or hot, one thing is certain – – using cold water while the garbage disposal is turned on will help to solidify any grease or oils that are in the unit. This will ensure the solidified oils are chopped up and flushed down the drain. Run the water for at least 15 seconds after the disposal is turned off.

 While following this list of garbage disposal Dos and Don’ts will help avoid damage to your disposal caused by various methods and items, it is also best to follow a regular cleaning schedule. This will prevent odors and keep your disposal smelling good and in optimal shape. Here are a few cleaning options that we recommend:

 Lemon or orange rinds: using these popular citrus fruit rinds helps to naturally clean the blades and walls, while also leaving a nice, fresh scent in your disposal.

  • Baking soda and vinegar: to eliminate stubborn odors, baking soda can be sprinkled into the disposal with vinegar poured on top to create a foaming action.
  • Ice cubes: running a few ice cubes through the garbage disposal while it is turned on will help scour and clean the interior of the disposal. You can also add dish soap or vinegar alongside the ice cubes for extra freshness and sanitizing.
  • Borax: this white powder cleaner that has been around for ages can help to sanitize and eliminate mold and mildew that may have grown on the blades and walls of the disposal.

We also recommend that you check your manufacturer’s cleaning instructions to verify which cleaning products can be used and which chemicals to avoid.

 While no appliance is ever guaranteed to last forever, being proactive by following this list of Dos and Don’ts can prevent unexpected odors and issues, along with costly plumbing repairs that are frustrating and time consuming.  

 If you are experiencing any issues with your garbage disposal and need expert guidance, BlueChip Plumbing is just one phone call away. Contact us here or give us a call today at (513) 999-6820 to speak to a plumbing specialist and get a free quote on any of our appliance services.


1. Can I put large amounts of food waste in my garbage disposal?

No, garbage disposals are not designed to handle high volumes of food waste. Disposing of large amounts can overheat the disposal, jam the blades, and cause clogged pipes. Always scrape small bits of food waste into the disposal instead.

2. Is it safe to pour grease and oils down the drain?

No, grease and oils should never be poured down the drain. They can cause damage to the disposal and lead to blockages in your pipes. Instead, dispose of them in a separate container and throw them in the trash.

3. What types of foods should I avoid putting in the garbage disposal?

Avoid putting granular foods (seeds, popcorn kernels, coffee grounds, eggshells), starchy foods (pasta, rice, bread, potatoes), fibrous foods (celery, onion skins, green beans, pumpkin, squash, artichokes), and hard materials (fruit pits, animal bones) in the disposal as they can cause damage or blockages.

4. How can I keep my garbage disposal clean and odor-free?

Regularly clean your disposal using lemon or orange rinds, baking soda and vinegar, ice cubes, or borax. These methods help to naturally clean the blades and walls, eliminate odors, and keep your disposal running smoothly. Always check your manufacturer’s instructions for recommended cleaning products.

5. Should I use cold or hot water when running the garbage disposal?

Use cold water when running the garbage disposal. Cold water helps to solidify any grease or oils, making it easier for the blades to chop and flush them down the drain. Run the cold water for at least 15 seconds after turning off the disposal.