Can You Put Citrus Peels In a Garbage Disposal? (Is It Safe?)

Most of us consider the garbage disposal to be a great invention, easy to use, and great for getting rid of an array of waste and food scraps that can combine together to make your kitchen smell not very fresh. Cleaning up after dinner is made so much simpler too.

However, garbage disposals can be surprisingly fragile, and if you don’t pay attention to what you put into your garbage disposal, you can damage it. The result of this is costly repairs and time spent fixing a problem that could have been avoided.

In this article, we’ll cover whether or not you can put citrus peels in a garbage disposal, some ways to protect your appliance, as well as a list of the most common items people put in their garbage disposal that they never should.

Food in the Garbage Disposal

Is It Safe to Put Citrus Peels in a Garbage Disposal?

Although people might consider putting citrus peels in the garbage disposal because of their scent, the peels have a high chance of getting stuck in the blades. Even small pieces of citrus peels are rough enough to be harmful and could cause further issues to your garbage disposal.

The best way to dispose of citrus peels is to either throw them in the trash or to compost them. There are even some creative ways to use the peels. If you do decide to put them through the garbage disposal, the smaller the pieces the better. Cut them up into smaller chunks beforehand to reduce the chance of them causing harm to the disposal.

Most Common Garbage Disposal Destroyers

Since you’re here reading about putting citrus peels in a garbage disposal, you may be wondering what other items are or aren’t safe to dispose of. Have you been putting items down your drain that could cause damage? We’ve come up with 9 items that you should avoid using the garbage disposal for, and should instead dispose of a different way.

Here’s a list of what not to put in your garbage disposal.

1. Fruit and Vegetable Peels

One of the most frequently asked questions about what can and can’t be put down a garbage disposal is can you put citrus peels in a garbage disposal?

A lot of people think this is a good idea because they know that the scent of ground-up lemon, lime, and orange peels will make your disposal smell fresh and clean, and brighten up your kitchen too. The fact of the matter is that citrus peels can be harmful to your disposal by getting stuck inside, so you should forego the nasal pleasure and avoid putting them into your garbage disposal.

Vegetable and fruit peels like skins from onions, potatoes, apples, mangoes, and peaches, lemons, limes, and oranges can manage to get themselves wrapped around the disposal blades. When this occurs, the disposal cannot work the way it should. Just put them in the garbage or compost along with the rest of the remains of dinner that can’t or won’t go into the disposal.

If you feel that you need to put these items into your garbage disposal, then chop them up into tiny pieces and drop them inside in small amounts, being sure to run cold water all the while.

2. Celery Stalks or Fibrous Vegetables

Everyone knows that celery is rubbery and putting it in the garbage disposal will create the same result as potato or apple skins. Another vegetable that can cause problems is spinach because it is so fibrous. Put it in your garbage disposal and you will see that it can also create troublesome congestion within.

3. Bones or Shells From Shellfish

Bones and shells of any kind are definitely not to be put in the garbage disposal. It doesn’t matter how small they can still make the blades of the disposal dull at the least, and outright break the blades at the worst. Furthermore, these are hard substances, and they can jam up the disposal, keeping the blades from doing their job correctly and ultimately exhausting the motor, thus burning it out.

4. Rice and Pasta

These small, seemingly innocent-looking particles can stick to the blades and pipes, clogging the sink. It doesn’t take much. Surprisingly small amounts can be enough to do significant damage. You don’t need to try it to find out if this is true. It will happen.

5. Fruit Pits and Seeds

We’ve already established the answer to the question can you put citrus peels in a garbage disposal? Now, what about fruit seeds and pits? Large, hard seeds and pits from fruit such as cherries, peaches, and nectarines can do the same kind of damage as bones. They can either dull the blades or stop your garbage disposal from working entirely.

6. Greasy Foods, Fats, or Grease

Greasy foods and fats will create a film around the disposal’s blades, making them less able to do the job of cutting through things. The grease will eventually begin to putrefy, and if you’ve smelled this once, you know you do not want that odor in your kitchen. Besides this, grease can also cause clogged drains and pipes once it hardens.

7. Tea Leaves

These can cause the same result as pasta and rice. If you do not want your kitchen sink to clog up, throw your loose leaf tea directly into the garbage.

8. Eggshells

Absolutely do not put eggshells in your disposal. Some people may tell you that they will help sharpen the blades, but don’t believe them. We don’t often notice this, but eggshells have a stringy layer of membrane that can easily twist around the shredder ring of the unit. Once the shells are ground to where they are like sand, they can then clog up your sink.

9. Non-Food Items

It’s never a good idea to put non-food items in the garbage disposal. Some non-food items that people often put into their disposals are:

  • Cigarette butts
  • Sponges
  • Pull tabs
  • Rubber bands
  • Twist ties
  • Clippings from plants

People have even been known to put pieces of material into their disposals, although why you would do this is beyond normal understanding. Your garbage disposal isn’t going to be able to handle these items, and they’ll end up being washed down the drain. The result of this can be costly repair work on your plumbing.

What Can You Put in Your Garbage Disposal?

If the food you want to throw out isn’t mentioned above as something you should not put into your disposal, most likely it can go safely into the garbage disposal and there won’t be any issues. However, don’t throw all of it in at one time. Regardless of what is being put into the garbage disposal, it should be in small pieces.

Here are a few items that are definitely safe for garbage disposal.

  • Liquids
  • Soft foods
  • Ice cubes
  • Leftover scrapes

Furthermore, don’t forget that although this is promoted as something you should do, you will be a lot better off if you don’t put any citrus peels into your garbage disposal. It’s a nice idea, but the thought of expensive repairs should be enough to discourage you from doing it.

The best thing you can do is to remember that although your garbage disposal is a convenience, it is not a trash can. If you aren’t already doing this, then start putting as much of your throw away food in your trash can as you possibly can, instead of depending on your garbage disposal to take care of it. If you engage in proper garbage disposal maintenance while your disposal is still functioning, it can help your disposal to last longer and save you from some pretty hefty repair bills.

How to Get Rid of Garbage Disposal Smells

Sometimes food items can build up in the garbage disposal and create some not great smells. So, what can you put in the garbage disposal for smell?

1. Small Pieces of Ice

Ice is great for clearing out gross smelling food as well as sharpening your garbage disposal’s blades. You’ll want to make sure you only put reasonably sized pieces of ice down the drain, as large chunks could cause some damage.

2. Vinegar and Baking Soda

This is another great option to help reduce the smell and it only takes a few steps. After you turn on the garbage disposal, pour a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by a cup of distilled white vinegar. After a short time the smell should be more in control.

Final Thoughts

Even though some people recommend using citrus peels to manage the smell of your garbage disposal, it isn’t safe to put them down the drain. It isn’t worth the risk of them getting tangled and damaging the blades or your plumbing.

You should always check to see whether an item is safe or not before placing it into the disposal. Most garbage disposals have a higher cost to fix, so use one of the other suggestions above if you’re trying to rid your disposal of a nasty smell.