What is a Garbage Disposal?


A garbage disposal unit is exactly what it sounds like—a machine that disposes of garbage. However, while this is a device that is meant to deal with waste, I must clarify that this is not for regular garbage.

It is specifically for small scraps of food that are leftover in a dirty sink. Instead of manually taking the food out of the sink or unclogging a drain after food bits begin to accumulate, a garbage disposal system will grind larger pieces of food and pulverize them, making it easy to be washed down into the drain.

How a Garbage Disposal Unit Works

The garbage disposal contraption is typically attached underneath your kitchen sink. Any solid food waste that accumulates in the sink will go into the grinding chamber for processing. When you turn on the garbage disposal, there is a disc with blunt teeth that will spin and grind the particles of food into smaller, pulverized pieces.

Once the food bits have been pulverized, they will be washed down into the drain as the grinding chamber also has small holes that will let water in. People often wrongly assume that a garbage disposal unit has extremely sharp teeth that can impale or cause grievous injury.

While I am not suggesting that your limbs will be perfectly fine if you stick your hand into the garbage disposal (disclaimer: do not try this), but instead of sharp teeth garbage disposals actually have blunt teeth that spin extremely fast.

Things That Should Not Go into a Garbage Disposal Unit

While a garbage disposal system is extremely powerful, it is not meant to handle all kinds of food scraps. For example, foods that are high in fiber can be difficult to break down into smaller bits.

Even potato peels can be difficult to pulverize in the garbage disposal chamber and will simply stick to the wall of the chamber, creating a block. Even cooking oils can build up over time and cause a clog in the chamber, so avoid putting too much grease or oil in the garbage disposal.

Even coffee grounds are something you should avoid putting in the garbage disposal. Coffee grounds tend to attract grease, so over time, there will be a build-up that can cause the drain to clog.

Eggshells, pasta, beans, etc. are also food items you should avoid putting in the garbage disposal! This guide to foods that should not go into the garbage disposal may be a helpful resource to have at hand.

Useful Tricks While Using the Garbage Disposal

While the above section covers items you should avoid putting in a garbage disposal unit, the following are some more useful things to keep in mind so your garbage disposal runs smoothly:

Don’t Put a Lot at Once

Even if you put foods that are garbage disposal safe, avoid putting in a lot at once. Feed the garbage disposal slowly as it is on. Allow it to work and pulverize what you have already added before pouring more food down the chamber.

Run the Cold Water

While the garbage disposal is on, keep the cold water running so that the chamber is constantly being cleared as the food goes down. Running cold water will cause any grease and oils to solidify so that they can become pieces that the disposal can grind.

Keep it Clean to Avoid Odor

Even the garbage disposal is practically self-cleaning because the flow of cold water will remove any pieces of food in the chamber, you still need to use cleaning material to keep the garbage disposal from smelling foul.

After you are done with the dishes, you can add some mild dishwashing soap into the chute and run the garbage disposal with cold water for a minute or so.

Final Thoughts

Garbage disposals have become one of the most important fixtures in any well-equipped kitchen. They make it easy to break food down and prevent the drain from clogging with big pieces of food particles.

Often, when you do dishes, it can be difficult to avoid food particles in the sink. Even if there are no food particles in the sink, it can be tricky to know how to dispose of waste food.

Foods that are garbage disposal safe can simply be processed in the chute and you do not have to worry about them stinking up the kitchen. For everything else, there is always composting! If you are using your garbage disposal correctly and safely, I think it can be one of the best investments for your kitchen.

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