Your garbage disposal is probably one of the toughest drains in your home, because it can break down solid chunks of food before sending them down the pipes. But that doesn’t mean that you can send anything down it. In this post, we’ll explore what homeowners can and can’t put down their garbage disposal.

Garbage disposals don’t actually have blades, they have teeth that chew up food that go down them. So you won’t be tossing ice down your disposal to sharpen up the blades that don’t exist.

What to Put Down a Garbage Disposal

The Food Scraps on Your Plate

A spare bit of salsa or a little bit of rice is going to do great in your garbage disposal. It’s not built to be a heavy-duty trash compactor, but it’s certainly capable of handling the softer food that is still on your plate.


Vegetables, cooked or uncooked, are generally fine in the garbage disposal.

Meat Scraps

As long as the meat is fully cooked and there are no bones in it, meat is going to be fine in the disposal.

Fruit Peels

Orange, lemon, and lime peels can go down the disposal just fine. They’ll get chopped up nicely by the machine and can even add a bit of citrus smell to cover any odors wafting from the disposal. Most kinds of fruit, other than extreme examples like pineapple husks and coconuts, are fine to go down the garbage disposal. Avoid seeds! Apple cores aren’t recommended.

What Not to Put Down a Garbage Disposal

Banana Peels

Great for the compost, terrible for the disposal. They quickly turn into a starchy mess all over the moving parts of the disposal. Even if they do make it past the gauntlet they’re terrible for your pipes.


Any kind of oil, including butter and grease, is terrible for your drain. It will go past the garbage disposal just fine but it will congeal into a mass in the middle of water. Most oils turn back to solids at low enough temperatures. Just think about how water and oil separate, and picture that happening with grease and butter. It’s really bad for the drain.

This also means that you should keep super oily and greasy food out of the garbage disposal so that it doesn’t fling all that oil into the drain.


Some people think that eggshells will sharpen the blades—but garbage disposals don’t have blades. Instead, the membrane of the egg shell is actually really tough and can get wrapped around the gears, damaging your disposal.

Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds won’t get chopped up by the disposal, but they will get into the drains and pipes of your system. They are resilient and take on water, meaning they can clog your pipes.

Apple Cores and Fruit Seeds

Any core or seeds of a fruit are too solid to be smashed by the disposal. Dropping a peach pit down into a garbage disposal is similar to dropping a small stone into it.

Potato Peels

Tons of greasy and starchy texture here which can get into the pipes and expand. As we’ve seen with a few items, the issue isn’t always your garbage disposal, it’s the pipes behind the disposal. Even after running food through the grinder it still travels down the pipes!


There are very few things that you should actively seek to throw down your garbage disposal! Keep in mind that composting and the plain old garbage can is usually the safest and most sustainable place to put food. The garbage disposal prevents your drain from getting clogged during normal use, but it’s not your personal food trash can.