How to Avoid Disposal Disasters During the Holidays

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Holiday dinners are a mixed blessing. We’ll take the turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, gravy, glazed ham, stuffing, and the gravy (and did we mention gravy?). Some things we could do without, like the fruitcake, the heartburn, and the cleanup. But someone’s got to clean up this mess, preferably without destroying the garbage disposal in the process. Here are some tips from Ace Plumbing for avoiding garbage disposal disasters at the holidays.

What Not to Dispose in Your Disposal

As helpful as it can be when the time comes to clean up, there are actually many things that shouldn’t go into the garbage disposal.

Grease and Oil

Grease and oil build up in your disposal and your pipes, leading to clogs later. Use a grease jar, or blot with plenty of paper towels instead.

Starchy Foods

Potatoes, pasta, rice, beans, and other starchy foods turn to a gummy, glue-like consistency that can cause clogs and cut down on the disposal’s usefulness.

Seeds and Pits

Your garbage disposal is sharp and spins fast, but when it comes to items like seeds and pits, you’d might as well be throwing gravel down the drain.

Potato Peels

An occasional scrap won’t harm your disposal, but a bag’s worth could cause trouble. Lay newspaper in the sink and peel into that. When you’re done, ball it up and toss it.

Fibrous Foods

Foods like artichokes, asparagus, celery, and onions — or outer coverings like banana peels and corn husks — can actually snarl your disposal.

Coffee Grounds

Some people suggest using coffee grounds to deodorize your disposal. They’ll work for that, but they’ll also clog your pipes. Compost them instead and rely on baking soda and vinegar to deodorize.

Hot or Caustic Liquids

Stick to cold water, since it keeps your garbage disposal from overheating. Allow hot liquids like coffee or tea to cool before disposing of them. Also avoid the use of chemicals like bleach or Drano, which can cause damage.

A Few Precautions

If you’re cleaning up after a big meal, we often find it’s easiest just to keep the trash can by the sink with some paper towels on hand. Scrape any scraps straight into the trash, being careful not to throw away the silverware or napkin rings. That minimizes the chances of food that shouldn’t go down the disposal ending up in the sink.

We also strongly suggest taking off rings, bracelets, and other jewelry before you do the dishes. Put them somewhere far from the kitchen sink so there’s less chance of something slipping off your hand or arm (gentlemen, this includes you).

Oops. Now What?

Let’s suppose some stray items — a forkful of mashed potatoes or a few stray green beans — made it down the disposal. It’s bound to happen, even if you’re careful. If it’s just a small amount, don’t worry. If it’s a slightly larger amount, “chase” it with something disposal-safe and plenty of water.

Sometimes, of course, it’s not food that gets dropped down the disposal accidentally. If something like a fork or your wedding ring goes down, do not — we repeat, rather emphatically, do not — attempt to reach in with your hands. Shut off the power to the disposal. Grab a pair of tongs, a wooden spoon, or even some needle-nose pliers, and try to fish the lost item out. If you can’t get it out or if the item’s made its way to the P trap, keep the power shut off and give us a call.

Whether it’s a plumbing emergency or a new garbage disposal installation, get in touch with Ace Plumbing. We serve Sacramento, Fair Oaks, Davis, Roseville and more.