A garbage disposal is a marvelous thing. Until, that is, the day it quits working. Then it becomes a big, smelly, expensive mess. And sadly most of the time the problem was avoidable. Most of the time garbage disposals break down due to human error. In short, someone put something inappropriate inside them.

Garbage disposals are hearty and handy, but they aren't indestructible. They weren't meant to handle everything in your kitchen. Certain materials are just more appropriate for your trash can or compost bin.

So, how are you supposed to know the difference? That's where your friends at Oola come in. We're here to walk you through a list of things you should avoid putting down your garbage disposal in order to keep it in good working order.

1. Pits And Seeds

An avocado and a pit.

Have you ever bit into the pit from a peach, plum or avocado. If you have, you know they're hard. Really hard. Too hard to cut through with your teeth or even a knife, which means they're also too hard for the blades of your garbage disposal. Dispose of them elsewhere.

2. Grease And Oil

You've probably seen what happens to bacon grease when it sits in the bottom of a pan. It hardens as it cools and turns thick and goopy. Pour that stuff into your garbage disposal and it will plug up your drain. If you want to keep your pipes free of smelly clogs, avoid pouring grease and oil into your garbage disposal.

3. Pasta And Rice

Any home cook knows that pasta and rice expand when they absorb water. For this reason, you should never throw them into your garbage disposal. They'll swell up and block your drain.

4. Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds.

We all love our morning coffee but after you a brew a pot you're left with a bit of a dilemma - what to do with the leftover coffee grounds. Coffee grounds congregate in your pipes and turn into a thick tarry substance, eventually blocking your drain. Save them for your compost bin instead.

5. Medication

A recent news story reported that salmon in the Puget Sound are full of antidepressants and other drugs people were flushing down the toilet. It's important to remember that anything you put into your garbage disposal could eventually make its way back into your local ecosystem, If you need to dispose of expired and or leftover medications, contact your local pharmacy and find out where you can safely drop them off.

6. Eggshells

Eggshells themselves are not a problem for your garbage disposal. But the membranes on their underside can be. They can wrap themselves around the blades and eventually lead to blockage and clogs. Play it safe and compost them instead.

7. Celery And Corn Husks

Celery stalks.

Stringy, fibrous vegetables can wrap themselves around your garbage disposal blades also. This includes celery, asparagus, corn husks, pumpkin, artichoke, and kale. It's not worth the risk.

8. Bones And Seafood Shells

Your garbage disposal is sharp and tough, but it's not strong enough to cut through materials as hard and dense as bones and seafood shells. Like fruit pits and seeds, they'll just sit there. And trust us, you won't like the smell.

9. Nuts

Ground up nuts are awesome. They turn into delicious high-protein spreads like peanut butter. However, they're not as awesome when those spreads are clogging up your pipes. Avoid tossing nuts down your garbage disposal so you don't end up with a thick, gooey clog.

10. Potato Peels

A potato being peeled.

Starchy potato peels often slip through the blades of your garbage disposal and render themselves into a pasty goop inside your drain. This can result in a smelly, expensive clog. Do yourself a favor and compost them instead.

11. Popcorn Kernels

It seems no matter how carefully you time your popcorn, there are always unpopped kernels left behind. Don't throw them into your garbage disposal, they're too hard for the blades and so small they generally slip through anyway. Once inside they'll refuse to budge and block and clog your drain. Popped kernels should be avoided also.

Garbage disposals are great gadgets and can handle most of the foods you task them with. If you know what foods to avoid tasking them, they'll offer you year after year of service. Here's to a lifetime of happy adventures in your kitchen!

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