Why You Shouldn't Put Potato Peels Down The Garbage Disposal

Because you're reading this, we're betting you reside in the U.S. — the only country where garbage disposals are commonly used, per Chem Europe. Moreover, many households with one installed under their sink may not use them or potentially use them incorrectly, which can lead not only to machine breakage but also to plumbing problems. 

Garbage disposals work by pulverizing food waste into a slurry capable of passing through the plumbing to either your septic system or your local wastewater treatment plant. Most people don't realize, however, that garbage disposals don't work like blenders, meaning they don't use sharp blades to break down waste. Rather, they use centrifugal force to literally smash the waste against a stationary grinding ring until it has liquified. 

That's why it's so important to run the water while you're running your disposal — just not hot water, please. It's also why many foods can wreak havoc on your garbage disposal, including eggshells (which don't ever fully liquify), fat and starchy foods (both of which can congeal), and fibrous veggies. And then there are potato peels, which may cause many problems when tossed down the garbage disposal — and not just to the garbage disposal itself. 

The starch from potatoes can cause clogging

A 2020 Consumer Reports survey revealed 59% of garbage disposal users regularly toss potato peels into the garbage disposal. That's unfortunate because doing so may cause problems for the machinery itself, the adjacent plumbing, and your household's plumbing system in general.

First, remember that your garbage disposal grinds rather than chops up your food waste. Potato peels, which are slippery and fibrous, have a way of sneaking right through the disposal's grinding apparatus and into your pipes, according to InSinkErator's director of product management Eric Schultz (via Consumer Reports). That can lead to clogging down the pipeline, literally. Worse still, just locating those clogs may require more time from your plumber. Moreover, if you have a septic system at the other end, you may be looking at repairs to that as well. 

Second, consider what potato peels are made of — starch. This type of food can clog your drain and also collect in your disposal, blocking other foods from going through. Even before they break down, however, potato peels can expand in your pipes, which can also cause clogging. Accordingly, for the longevity of your garbage disposal and to keep your plumbing repair bills down, do consider an alternative use such as composting or cooking them in a recipe.