How Efficient Are Garbage Disposals?

Are Garbage Disposals Efficiently Disposing Your Food Waste?

We take it for granted that when we scrape our food into the sink drain that holds the garbage disposal, our food waste is being disposed of ‘somewhere’ down the line in some kind of regurgitated manageable substance. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Lately we’re becoming more informed about what really happens to the food waste we dispose of.

Truth be known, our urban sewer system was never designed to handle the resulting residue from food disposals. What is happening is disturbing at best. Once food has made its course through your garbage disposal, it doesn’t just float away into our sewer systems as we have previously thought. No, it sits in every curve and dip in the line from your home, through the neighborhood, and further into urban systems until it collects much like plaque on an artery. You might call it arteriosclerosis of the urban sewer.

With this information we have a greater understanding of how to make our systems more efficient. Follow these tips to insure you don’t experience problems relating to the food waste leaving your home through a garbage disposer.

  • Always scrape food from plates into the garbage
  • If it doesn’t float, don’t put it down the disposer. Coffee grounds, rice, potato and citrus peels are among the foods that accumulate in your pipe system, even after being ground up.
  • Use plenty of water to rinse dishes when using your disposer. Most do not, and if that is not an option for your household’s green living campaign you should,
  • Purchase a composting garbage disposal if necessary. This will be discussed more in upcoming posts.
  • If odor is coming out of your disposal drain, baking soda and ice will clean the blades and deodorize safely. Make sure you run hot water while doing so.

Proper maintenance is important to the homeowner and the city water treatment plant. If the ‘gunk’ does make it out of your home, it ends up in the bottom of your city’s systems, and takes tax dollars to clean out. Its a good idea to make sure you’re aware of what you’re putting into your disposal.

What have you learned to do differently with your food waste?


  1. We started a compost bin this spring. Fruit and vegetable scraps that used to go down the garbage disposal(including coffee grounds) go in the compost bin. We are also going to start an earthworm farm to convert those scraps to compost.

    Other food scraps that aren’t suitable for composting go in the garbage.

  2. Good for you! Garbage disposals do have their place, but it’s just good stewardship all the way around to use them wisely. Thank you for your comments.

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