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What to Feed (and Not Feed) Your Garbage Disposer

What to Feed (and Not Feed) Your Garbage Disposer

Thanksgiving is tomorrow.  Christmas and Hanukkah are just around the corner, not to mention New Years Eve and Day.  If you’re hosting, that means there is going to be food…lots of food.  And even though there will be plenty of leftovers, chances are you’re going to be throwing away lots of food.

The temptation is to throw all that food down the garbage disposer.  That would be a mistake.  Your garbage disposer needs to be on a very restrictive diet.  Feed it the wrong stuff, and it may get sick.  Here are some do’s and don’ts.


  1. Fibrous foods such as celery, artichokes, asparagus, corn husks, carrots, and onion skins.
  2. Grease, fats and oils.  Not only can these gum up the disposer, but decaying grease will leave a really unpleasant odor.
  3. Fruit pits, seeds and apple cores.
  4. Bones (although the better disposers are tested by grinding up beef rib bones)
  5. Any non-food items, such as rubber bands, twist ties, cigarette butts, pull tabs, sponges and plant clippings.


  1. Cold water, never hot.  The cold water will keep the naturally occurring fats attached to food waste instead of your piping.
  2. Grind in small batches, running water for 30 seconds between batches.  This will help move the ground up food waste down the drain piping, helping to prevent a clog.  
  3. Liquids and soft foods.
  4. Chopped foods not including the above.
  5. Dish soap – just a little to help you clean the unit.
  6. Ice cubes – which surprisingly can knock food residue that has built up on the unit’s blades.

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Ravinia Plumbing
1580 Old Skokie Rd
Highland Park, IL 60035
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