Plumbers Advise What You Should and Shouldn't Put Down Your Garbage Disposal

Even though a group of plumbers shared that people should not put food down a garbage disposal, many reveal that there’s actually a lot they use the disposal for.

Chrissy Bobic - Author

Oct. 23 2023, Updated 2:10 p.m. ET

Apparently, having a garbage disposal does not give you a license to dispose of, well, literally any kind of garbage down your sink drain. Even garbage associated with leftover food. And a group of plumbers on TikTok from the account @primeplumbingmd shared in a video that you should not put food down your garbage disposal.

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Of course that begs the question of what you do put down the disposal after washing dishes. In the video, the employees share everything they advise not to use your disposal to get rid of. It's pretty specific, but also makes it incredibly confusing to figure out what the benefit even is to have a garbage disposal in your home.

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Plumbers say don’t put food down your garbage disposal.

In the TikTok, employees of Prime Plumbing are asked, “What is one thing you should never put down your garbage disposal?” And the overall arching answer is, simply put, food. Which I don't quite understand, since I was under the impression that food is the one thing you are supposed to put down the disposal. But even the most miniscule food items are apparently a no-no. See, TikTok isn't just for dance and makeup trends. It teaches us things — sometimes.

Among the specific things that the plumbers say not to put down your garbage disposal are chicken bones, rice, eggshells, and “anything starchy.” A couple of them even say simply “anything” in response to what you should never put down the garbage disposal. I get not shoving eggshells down there, but the rice one really got me.

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According to Consumer Reports, though, there are food items you can still safely put down the garbage disposal after washing dishes. Like vegetable scraps, cooked meat, corn cobs, and even fruit pits. But I guess not all plumbers would agree with that, judging by whatever they have seen in terms of faulty garbage disposals.

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People shared everything they still put down their garbage disposals.

If you’re like me, then you might have assumed, before this video anyway, that garbage disposals are a catch-all for (almost) any food scraps. And the comments under the video prove that there are a lot of us who think this way. Because of what the plumbers say in the video, I definitely wouldn't advise shoving anything too bulky or with sharp or non-defined edges, though.

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"I've put at least 900,000 egg shells in the garbage disposal," one TikTok user commented.

Another admitted, "There’s almost nothing I won't put in the garbage disposal." And apparently, the recommended things not to put down the disposal still work for some.

"Well. It’s been 20-plus years of mainly rice, eggshells, [and] noodles," someone wrote under the video. "Still good!"

But to the person who wrote that their grandma shoved "a whole Jersey Mike's sandwich" down one, yeah, even I wouldn't recommend that. And I'm liable to use a garbage disposal for half the things that could apparently damage one.

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The moral of the story is, plumbers have seen enough horror stories to know the best practices for getting the most out of your garbage disposal. Even if some of us are still going to use our own best judgment.

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