Easily clean the garbage disposal with citrus peels

Have you seen the TikTok lemonade trend? If you’ve tried to make the viral whipped lemonade or just as well known cowboy caviar, you may have excess of lemon or lime peels in your kitchen. (if you haven’t made them check out those links to get the recipes!) Do you wonder if it’s safe to put them down the garbage disposal? The answer may surprise you – yes, you can! It’s actually a great way to reduce food waste and reuse something that would typically just go to the bin. In this post, we’ll talk through why running these peels through the disposal is actually beneficial and how disposing of them properly will keep your sink in tip-top shape. Read on to learn more about citrus peel disposal and make sure everything from the cutting board to the drain runs smoothly!

Why put fruit peels down the disposal?

Putting citrus peels, such as lemon, lime and orange down the garbage disposal helps break them down into smaller pieces for easier processing while making your drain smell good! The citrus oil offer a natural smell to the disposal and can help reduce odors from food scraps that may linger. In addition to cutting unpleasant odors, it’s thought that citrus peels can cut the residue left behind greasy foods, effectively eliminating them. You can use orange peels, lemon rinds, lime peels or grapefruit skins – they all have natural oils with unique scents! Bu-bye bad smell!

4 Steps to run citrus peels down the garbage disposal

  1. When disposing of citrus peels, it’s best to cut them up into smaller pieces. Instead of putting whole lemons down into the blades of the garbage disposal(which won’t go over well), I cut mine into quarters that can easily fit down the drain. This will also help them break down faster and easier.
  2. Run cold water while grinding peels and keep the disposal running for several seconds after all of them have passed through to ensure that they are fully broken down before leaving your drain and going through the rest of your plumbing system.
  3. Turn off the disposal and let hot water run for another 15 seconds.
  4. Always practice safety when using a garbage disposal – never put your hands down into it on a whim and unplug it when not in use. With the right precautions, you can safely and effectively dispose of citrus peels with a garbage disposal!

Pro Tip – as a self proclaimed produce lover, it’s a good idea to remove any fruit stickers. They can easily get caught up in the garbage disposal’s blades resulting in a broken appliance.

What not to put down the garbage disposal

If you’ve never used a garbage disposal before, I want to help you avoid a big problem with this advice. As a general rule non-food items should not go into the disposal. Avoid putting any and all hard materials near the drain. Having kids, I find that small spoons, screws, rocks, stones, rubber bands and other small objects can become problematic!! Overall any hard items can damage the garbage disposal blades and can cause it them to dull or stop moving all together.

  • Small bones – these can dull blades and make an awful grinding noise when the disposal is turned on!
  • Fruit pits – Avoid larger pits from stone fruit such as peach or plumb pits. Smaller pits from apples or lemons will can cause a problem too, especially if a lot of them are tossed in at once. Take care with cherry pits and unpopped popcorn kernels too!
  • Egg shells – They can dull the blade. They can also do you a lot more good when crumbled and put under plants growing outside!
  • Seafood shells – we love eating steamed clams but their shells should go straight into the trash! Small pieces are just as bad as small rocks for your disposal!
  • Fibrous veggies – And stringy vegetables like celery stalks aren’t a great idea for your disposal. Their fibers are so tough that they can cause your garbage disposal to stop running.
  • Potato peels – While vegetable peels are a natural fit for the disposal, large amounts of starchy foods like potato skins and the waste disposal, may congeal and create a thick paste that can create a problem for your garbage disposal unit.

Other helpful tips if something gets stuck down in the disposal

I mentioned earlier that we’ve had a few issues with our disposal, and thankfully we were able to solve them on our own without the help of expert plumbers.

eaten red cherries on a plate
  • First shut off power to the disposal before going near it with your hands. Ours has a switch underneath the sink, but I recommend unplugging it if you can.
  • Next get a flashlight. I’ve used my iPhone flashlight in a pinch but a larger light will be helpful if you have it.
  • Get your significant other, child or friend to hold the light while you push back the plastic flaps to get a better look inside.
  • Use a knife or fork to feel around and try to locate where the item is inside of the disposal before putting your hand it to get it.
  • Protect your hand with a disposable glove before going in remove the item!

If all else fails get the help of expert plumbing services and don’t use your disposal until it can be assessed.

About Me

I’m Melanie.

I’m a chef, registered dietitian, foodie, wife and mom.
If you’re looking for quick and healthy meal inspiration that supports your health goals while feeding the rest of your family (including the kiddoes) well, then you’ve come to the right place!

Melanie Marcus Selfie