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What is OK To Put In A Garbage Disposal

I once heard a salesman describing everything that could be safely disposed of in the Garbage Disposal Unit.  It seemed that there was nothing that would stop the Unit until the customer questioned the power of the Unit. 

The salesman glibly replied that anything you would feed a baby could go down the Garbage Disposal. That is the best advice when deciding what the Garbage Disposal can handle. 

Garbage Disposal Units are very efficient at getting rid of small amounts of a wide range of items so let’s look at the various categories of food waste that can be safely disposed of through the Garbage Disposal Unit.

Dairy Products and Liquids


It is safe to pour milk down the Garbage Disposal but be careful to rinse the drain with clean water to avoid the smell of rotten milk invading your kitchen. Non-dairy milk is also allowed down the Garbage Disposal provided you rinse well, and there are no grain solids in the milk.


It is OK to pour Buttermilk down the Garbage Disposal as long as you remember to rinse well with running water. The microbes in spoiled Buttermilk are great for Septic Tanks.

Condensed Milk

As condensed milk is on the sticky side and thick, it is best to pour it down the Garbage Disposal while running the tap to ensure that it doesn’t clog up the unit.


Yogurts are acceptable to dispose of through the Garbage Disposal, and the only cautionary here is to avoid pouring yogurts that contain chunks of fruit or nuts down the drain.

Ice cream

Leftover ice cream is fine for despatch down the Garbage Disposal again with the warning about stray pieces of fruit or nuts but add to this topping that is particularly sticky.

While dealing with dairy products, remember that creams and soft cheeses are not for Garbage Disposal owing to their high-fat content.

Foodstuffs, Meat, Fish, and Vegetables.


While raw beef presents a serious health risk, cooked beef cut into small pieces will be accepted by the Garbage Disposal without any problems. Rotten beef is not suitable for the Garbage Disposal Unit because of the health risks involved, and you really don’t need rotten food in your plumbing.


Small pieces of cooked pork are suitable for the Garbage Disposal Unit; however, be careful about the amount of grease and fat contained in the pork. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines about the disposal of bones.

Don’t put rotten pork down the Garbage Disposal Unit, even though it will probably do no damage except produce a terrible smell in your kitchen.


Warnings around Salmonella are not to be taken lightly, so only cooked chicken is suitable for disposal down the Garbage Disposal. Cut the chicken into small pieces and ensure that the unit’s motor can handle the size of bones in the pieces.

While many Garbage Disposal Units can handle small chicken bones, it is worth checking with the manufacturers what the unit’s capacity is for dealing with bones.

The Garbage Disposal Unit can handle cooked chicken that has passed its ‘best before’ date, but the warning about the size of bones is also relevant, together with the amount of grease and fat contained in the chicken.


The reporting of chocked Garbage Disposal Units reaches a peak after Thanksgiving. Although turkey may not be the sole cause of the unit failure, the large bones in turkey may play a significant role in Garbage Disposal breakdowns. 

If you are careful about the size of the bones and cut up the cooked turkey into small pieces, it should not present any problems to the disposal unit.


You are safe in putting raw and cooked eggs in the Garbage Disposal Unit as long as you don’t put eggshells together with the egg. Eggshells can potentially cause severe blockages to the unit and the plumbing. Don’t put eggshells in the Garbage Disposal Unit.


While some Garbage Disposal Units mention that they can handle bones, it is best to check the size and type of bones that can be safely disposed of in the Garbage Disposal Unit.

Fruit Skins

Happily, here is one item that not only presents no problem to the Garbage Disposal Unit but also has some beneficial qualities.

Lemon and Orange peels are a great way to make your drain smell lovely and fresh, and the acetic acid in the lemon will sort out any lurking grease in the pipes.

Remember that a few pieces of fruit peel are no problem but don’t overdo it. Small amounts are always advised.


The tomato is one of the few fruits that can be disposed of trouble-free in the Garbage Disposal. I’m not sure if it has to do with whether a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable but limit the amount of it going down the drain at one time.

Ice Cubes

Ice cubes are sometimes mentioned as being useful in clearing blockages in the Garbage Disposal Unit, but their efficiency is somewhat limited. Be careful about putting too many ice cubes at any one time in the Garbage Disposal Unit. 


Small pieces of bread, maybe a crust or two, can be safely despatched down the Garbage Disposal Unit, but more than that could cause some problems. Bread has the potential to swell when wet, so be super vigilant about the amount that goes down the drain.


A small amount of cereal flushed down the Garbage Disposal Unit together with cold running water should be trouble-free. Still, small quantities poured slowly into the drain is the correct method to keep the drain flowing freely.

Boiling Water

It is safe to pour boiling water down the Garbage Disposal Unit, which may help to dislodge any grease and fat build-up.

More powerful Garbage Disposal units can handle a greater variety of Foodstuffs.

When it comes to disposing of bones, be they fish, chicken, or beef bones, the limiting factor is the motor’s size and the condition of the plumbing pipes.

A bigger motor will also allow the disposal of fruit pits, which would generally cause a small motor to seize up. It is always better to check the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Some Final Thoughts

I’m sure we have all heard it said that someone puts potato skins, apple cores, or some other blacklisted item into their Garbage Disposal Unit with no adverse consequences. And they probably do so because it is important not only the type of material but the quantity.

Placing a small amount of any item in the Garbage Disposal unit is always much better than risking choking the unit with a hefty pile of food waste at once.

Having a small composting system will be a handy alternative for all your vegetable waste and serve as a healthy source of nutrients for your pot plants.

A hurried moment of trying to force something down the Garbage Disposal has the potential of causing a blockage that will take considerably longer to fix. 

The most important words to follow are Slow and Steady wins the race.


My Garbage Disposal Unit switches on, but nothing happens. What is wrong?

If you switch on the unit and you can’t hear the blades spinning or see water draining, it means that your motor is not working. The motor may have tripped because of a blockage, so you will need to have a look down the drain to see if you can see any obstruction. 

If you are able to clear the obstruction, you will need to press the reset button on the motor and check if it works.

Why can’t potato skins be put down the drain?

The blades on a Garbage Disposal Unit grind rather than cut, and the starch in the potato peel creates a sticky blob that will block the plumbing very quickly.

Can I put avocado pits in the Garbage Disposal Unit?

Pieces of avocado can be placed in the Garbage Disposal, but the pits may be a little too large to be comfortably disposed of in the unit.

My name is Thomas Anderson, author of DisposalQA. I have 15 years experience working as a plumber in CA, and this is where I answer common questions about garbage disposals.