Garbage disposals are such a great kitchen utility. They are an easy method of getting rid of scraps and waste from cooking and eating.

Although there are plenty of things that are perfectly fine to put down your garbage disposal, there are plenty of others that can be extremely harmful.

Cramming the wrong things down your garbage disposal unit can wreak all sorts of havoc on your plumbing. We are talking clogged pipes, damaged blades and that horrible smell that comes from your disposal and stinks up the whole house.

A typical garbage disposal can last you a little over a decade, but if properly cared for you can help extend the life of your system even longer. Here are a couple tips and tricks you can steal to help increase its longevity.

What to put down your disposal

Some foods and waste are actually good to put down the drain, believe it or not! You may not think it, but egg shells, smaller animal bones like chicken and fish as well as small fruit seeds break down into lots of small, rough particles that can help scrub the inside of the disposal and pipes and keep it clean.

What about preventing that horrible stench that can sometimes come from the sink? You can eliminate it with regular cleaning and use. Running the garbage disposal with cold water even when you aren’t flushing anything can help prevent accumulation as well as rust and corrosion.

Grinding up the peels of fruits like lemons, limes and oranges can also be used to prevent odor with their strong citrusy scents. Another garbage-disposal “hack” you can do is try freezing vinegar in an ice cube tray and then dumping them in the disposal. This method not only helps sharpen the blades but helps kill odor-producing bacteria.

Be sure to do regular cleaning by washing dish soap down with cold water. Believe it or not, cold water is actually the best temperature of water to use when cleaning and washing down waste. It will help solidify any grease or oil that makes its way into the system and chop it up before it gets too far down the pipe.

What not to put down your disposal

Putting oil, grease or fat down your garbage disposal is one of the biggest no-no’s when it comes to maintaining the lifespan of your system. All of these products can coagulate down the pipe causing blockage and are the biggest cause of unpleasant odors.

Any excess from cooking should be disposed of another way. We suggest collecting the left over oils and grease from cooking in a container like a jar or coffee tin to cool before tossing it out with the rest of your garbage.

Never put fibrous foods like corn husks or celery down the drain. The fibers can get tangled in the blades, do damage and are a serious pain – not to mention dangerous – to remove.

Rice and pasta may seem innocent enough, but you do not want them in your disposal either. Have you ever noticed how after you cook them you always seem to have more than what you started with? That is because they are expandable foods and will grow with the addition of water. If too much were to get stuck in the pipe they can cause major blockage issues.

This may go without saying, but a garbage disposal is for breaking down food. So stay away from plastics, metals and even paper. Trash like this is not biodegradable so paper is bound to get stuck and plastic and metal can wreak havoc on the lifespan of your disposal’s blades.