• Diane Peters

Thanksgiving Foods That Should Never Go Into Your Garbage Disposal

Updated: Jan 12

Thanksgiving weekend should be a time for celebrating with family and friends, not for having to call a plumber. Yet, the day after Thanksgiving is one of the busiest days of the year for residential plumbers across the country.

With additional cooks in the kitchen and extra helpers cleaning up, more foods make their way into the garbage disposal, causing jams and clogged drains. Small amounts of certain foods are not usually a problem. However, the increased quantity of food prepared for Thanksgiving dinner, and the greater number of leftovers, can quickly overwhelm your home’s plumbing system.

It helps to keep your water and garbage disposal running while adding small amounts of food waste at a time, but the best way to prevent your Black Friday plans from getting ruined is to stop the following holiday foods from getting anywhere near your garbage disposal.

large turkey roasting in a roasting pan in a hot oven

Turkey: Bones are a sure-fire way to jam your garbage disposal. The blades in your garbage disposal are not designed to grind bones. Attempting to do so will likely damage the blades and ruin the motor. Even small bones that make it past the blades can cause problems once inside the drains. As the bones get stuck, other debris collects around them, and clogs the drain. Turkey skin, grease, and gravy are also common causes of clogged drains. Pour hot grease and oil, such as turkey drippings, into a heat-safe container to cool, then scrape the cooled or solidified liquids into the trash.

thanksgiving vegetables tumbling out of a basket onto a table

Vegetables: Any vegetables that are stringy and fibrous should be avoided as they can wrap around the blades and wear down the garbage disposal’s motor by preventing it from turning. Common Thanksgiving vegetables to watch out for include potato skins, carrots skins, artichokes, asparagus, corn husks, celery stocks, onion skins, and pumpkin rinds. Also avoid seeds and nuts, such as pumpkin seeds and pecans. Mashed potatoes are another common culprit for clogged drains. The potatoes expand, restricting the flow of water, and the sticky starches narrow the pipes, allowing other foods to get stuck rather than pass through.

close up of pasta casserole with cheese melted in a white crockery dish

Casseroles: Like mashed potatoes, pasta and rice are starchy and expand in water. As they pass through the garbage disposal blades, they turn into paste that gets stuck in the pipes. They can also damage the motor on their way through the blades.

brown eggs in a carton and a whisk on an opened cook book

Eggshells: It is a common myth that eggshells are good for sharpening your garbage disposal blades. Technically, garbage disposals don’t even have blades. They have impellers, but who cares about technicalities on Thanksgiving anyway? The point is that nothing is getting sharpened. Plus, eggshells do not break down like other foods and can build up in your drains. The egg’s membrane can also wrap around the blades and put strain on the motor. If you use eggs for making pie crusts, bread, or Thanksgiving leftover quiche, throw the shells in the trash can or compost bin rather than into your garbage disposal.

Keep in mind also that even though food washed down the drain is out-of-sight-out-of-mind for you, the food does not just magically disappear from existence. It still must travel somewhere, and that place ultimately is the landfill. Why make the trip any longer than it needs to be? Remember also that if your home’s drains lead to a septic tank, it is not recommended to have a garbage disposal at all. Save your home’s plumbing system by disposing of food waste in the trash can or compost bin.

Hopefully these tips will save you from post-holiday stress. After all, wouldn’t you rather spend money on Black Friday deals than on plumbing repairs?

table set with cloth linens and place settings and thanksgiving dinner and drinks