Think Twice Before Putting Coffee Grounds In The Garbage Disposal

Although garbage disposals are widely considered an end-all, be-all method for getting rid of kitchen scraps, these sink-bound appliances aren't actually equipped to deal with all types of food waste. For instance, as innocent as coffee grounds may seem, they're a big no-no when it comes to garbage disposals.

Coffee drinkers often pour their excess coffee grounds down the drain, not realizing that coffee grounds take between three and six months to decompose, even in the best of conditions. In the meantime, however, coffee grounds can accumulate in the plumbing, creating blockages that may require a professional's help to remove.

Instead, always dump your leftover coffee grounds either in the trash or — ideally — into a compost bin. The coffee grounds can then take as long as they need to decompose without causing obstructions in your home's plumbing, and you get free fertilizer for your garden! That sounds way better than a hefty plumber bill.

Don't dump shells into the garbage disposal, either

Coffee grounds aren't the only thing you should avoid pouring into the garbage disposal. Shells are another item of food waste that you wouldn't necessarily expect to harm your house's plumbing, but they can quickly cause trouble. Both eggshells and various types of shellfish can prove just as hazardous as coffee grounds, clogging up pipes with their greasy debris.

Small pieces of eggshell can take at least a year to break down, while larger pieces can take much longer. Likewise, oyster shells can take up to 10 years to fully decompose, meaning they could be spending the better part of a decade building up obstructions. Bet you didn't know that about oysters.

Instead of messing up your garbage disposal and kitchen plumbing, consider composting shell scraps or finding other ways to use eggshells so you don't have to throw them out in the first place. A good rule of thumb, regardless of your disposal method, is to crush any shells into powder to shorten their decomposing time.

Keep your garbage disposal clear of fibrous foods

Yet another category of foods to keep out of your garbage disposal is that of fibrous items like corn husks, banana peels, onion skins, artichokes, kale, celery, asparagus, and pumpkin pulp. These foods have a very strong, stringy structure, making them difficult to break down.

Again, these food items take a long time to decompose — anywhere between three months and a year for corn husks — and in the meantime, they can cause major blockages. One day you're tossing corn husks in your garbage disposal, and the next thing you know, those corn husk fibers have worked themselves into a stubborn knot in your kitchen plumbing, catching anything and everything else that tries to pass through.

That being said, you can still send some fibrous foods through the garbage disposal, so long as you do so in very small amounts and chop them up into more easily manageable pieces. Of course, your best bet for fibrous foods (as well as any other food you might put in the garbage disposal) is to opt for the trash or a compost bin. Save yourself the stress and struggle of a clogged pipe.