If you have a garbage disposal in your home, you probably think that you can use it to grind any kind of waste, including hard stuff, such as fruit peels and small bones, but not all kinds of kitchen waste should be eliminated in this way. Allowing certain kinds of trash to go down your garbage disposal may cause the pipes to clog, resulting in sewage spills that destroy the environment.
Besides kitchen utensils and your fingers, there are many other things you should never put down your garbage disposal, including:
- Oils, fats, and grease
These should never be poured down the garbage disposal as they tend to stick to the interior surface of sewer pipes, harden over time, and eventually cause the sewage to back up, resulting in a sewage spill in your home or in the streets.
Some people think that running hot water as they pour the grease is a smart way to prevent hardening, but it really doesn’t help. Indeed, the hot water and detergent does break up the grease, but this is only temporary, and it will harden again further down the drain.
The best way to get rid of grease, fats, and oil is by allowing them to cool and harden, mixing them with absorbent materials, and placing them in a bag for disposal in the trash.
Food should never be flushed down the drain. Instead, compost whatever you can and scrape or wipe other remnants into the trash. Catch the remaining food particles using a drain screen in the sink, and only use your garbage disposal sparingly. Pouring food down the garbage disposal can cause the sewer lines to clog, resulting in backups in your home.
- Hair and stringy veggies
Although hair and stringy vegetables, such as corn husks, celery, and some types of lettuce, seem to get past the plug easily, their fibrous nature causes them to catch and stick to other dirt. This makes them very difficult to remove from the piping once they get in. Dispose of any hair and stringy vegetables properly in the trash, and use a fine drain screen in other areas of the house – such as your shower and bathtub – to prevent hair from getting down the drain.
- Eggshells and coffee grounds
These should never be put down the garbage disposal. Instead, use them to make compost for your garden, or simply dispose of them in the trash.
- Household hazardous materials
Highly toxic substances, such as pesticides, motor oil, paint, and solvents, should never be poured down the garbage disposal because they cause long-term damage to the environment. Put any unused substances in safe storage away from children and pets, and dispose of them by taking them to the nearest household hazardous waste collection centre, or simply put them in a garbage disposal bin for the professionals to handle.
To continue enjoying the benefits of your garbage disposal, use it sparingly, not as a substitute for the trash can.