Garbage disposers. Do we care?

CEFreemanSeptember 6, 2012

I'm sure, deeply.

That said, I live alone and cook big every six months or so.

I have a garbage disposer that I use once in a while to grind up anything that fell in the sink. Crumbs, well, mostly crumbs.

I'm wondering if I should just take it out so I can have more room under the apron sink for my drawer.

The question I can't find an answer to, is if you have a garbage disposer and something big goes down the drain, what do you do? You can't grind it up and a chunk of something isn't going to just go away.

Truthfully, that's actually why I put one in. Fear of chunks.

What's your opinion?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I only have a GD on one side of the sink. My DD, because I have been remiss in teaching her specifics of housewifery, let food go down the drain side. I ran a lot of water to flush it through. Nothing untoward happened (yet). I suppose bigger chunks could be problematic, but usually the strainer is in place, right? And it's usually only you using the sink, right? So you'll be able to be careful.

When I was growing up, we didn't have a GD for a long time. I remember emptying the strainer into the garbage or the compost keeper. I don't remember problems.

While I would rather have a GD, they are by no means essential. Some ecologically minded folks think they are not good at all. Rip it out!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 10:09AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You put a screen of some sort over the drain to catch everything and you dump the stuff in the screen in the garbage/compost. I think it is actually easier to keep clean than a garbage disposal. You can see it. It makes no noise. And garbage disposals put a strain on sewage systems, my city says.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 10:09AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We never had a garbage disposer in NY, but when we moved to NC we found that EVERYONE has one. Our house came with one. Like you, we used it every once in a while to grind up the crumbs that went down the drain. We're not putting one in our new kitchen.

When we didn't have one before, the only time there was really ever a danger of a chunk going down the drain was if I was washing dishes and all the little holes in the strainer got clogged. I'd have to lift up the strainer to get the water to drain, and any other chunks in the sink would try to bypass the strainer and go down with the water. Then I got this fantastic little wire mesh strainer and Bed Bath and Beyond or someplace for like $1. It never got clogged, and I never had to pick it up when the sink was full of water and risk letting the chunks through. Also, stuff didn't get caught halfway through the strainer holes, so I could just take it and dump it in the trash and not have to stand there poking slimy stuff back through the strainer holes with my finger. I love these for the bathroom sink and bathtub too - the only thing I've found that catches all the hair.

I only hand wash things like wine glasses and large pots and pans that won't fit in the dishwasher (and the occasional stuff that I need NOW when the dw isn't ready to be run), and I don't fill the sink to wash. If you're a sink-filler, this may not be very helpful.

Here is a link that might be useful: mesh strainer

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 10:18AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I don't have one on my stone farm style sink. Don't feel the need for one. In homes of friends that have them, I find them a nuisance. Does food get down my pipes? Probably, but I haven't had a problem, and use a nice strainer to prevent it.

I just take the scraps and put them in my compost pail rather than send them to the sewer. Why waste great materials that can turn into wonderful compost for my garden?

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 10:20AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am a kindred spirit with you on garbage disposals. I just don't believe in running solids down my plumbing (soft solids in the bathroom don't count ;o ). I compost or trash everything solid and run my garbage disposal once in awhile to for my crumbs and whatever small stuff rinses off dishes.

That being said, I installed one in my new kitchen last week! A midlevel model 3/4 hp since I am not a big user of it. I too debated not putting one in but then you have all your little junk catching in your strainer and spend a lot of time beating it out of there! I do like the convenience of rinsing out the sink at the end down the disposal and giving it a short run to keep everything fresh and clean.

I am moving from a year old kitchen with a year old disposal and recently ran it for a very short period of time with a spoon in there! Poor disposal, poor spoon....

I think your question is if you don't have a disposal and something big goes down what do you do? I always install a strainer in a sink without a disposal (other side of my current double sink) If you keep your strainer in place it should catch anything, usually under the strainer is a 4 legged device the strainer attaches to. So that limits the size of anything that can go down the drain to a little less than 1/4 the size of the opening. So most big stuff is caught and doesn't reach your plumbing but you are likely to get clogs in your kitchen plumbing if you use a kitchen sink without the strainer because too much big stuff goes down.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 10:26AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Audry, how do you use the strainers in the tub ? Our tub has a strainer thingy built in (that doesn't work all that great). I can see the sink ... It will fit right into the hole. But how does it work on the tub where there is no hole ?

Re: garbage disposal ... We have one but only use it for the crumbs that get away from us. Most stuff is caught in the strainer. Although I did catch hubby pouring a bunch of leftovers out of the fridge in there and just happily grinding away. Arrrgggh.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 10:33AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've always had a GD, and when I've spent time in kitchens without one, I've missed it. What do you do with the cereal mixed with milk left at the bottom of the bowl? It's too wet to put in the garbage, but the leftover cereal seems too big to just send down the drain. And when I'm washing lettuce in the sink, there are always the small bits and pieces that are hard to fish out at the end and hard to pick off the strainer. So those are the things I like my GD for.

I know, I know, I should be composting.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 10:42AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My tubs all have a little pop-up plug the you push down to fill the tub. Since I never fill the tub, I just took the pop up thing out and that left a hole that I could put the strainer in. When I redo my master bathroom, I will have a tub that's big enough for actual baths, and a shower that probably has a "no hole" drain, and I'm not sure what I'll do then :-/

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 10:43AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think GD's are gross. We took ours out years ago and didn't put one in the new kitchen. I watched the plumber clear a clog in our old pipes (down in the basement) and all the nasty black sludge that was in there was just disgusting. He said it was partly from stuff that had been put down the GD (my DH would grind up veg peelings etc in it). And we kept losing utensils down the GD in our beach rental this summer -- we had to fish around in there with our fingers to pull out spoons and forks that had fallen in. Blech.

Big stuff doesn't go down our drain. The strainer catches it -- and as a pp said, the strainer sits on a support with 4 arms, and that would catch any big things that made it past the strainer. We have Kohler Duostrainers and they are definitely worth it, though less expensive ones would do the job too. Also I don't prep in the sink and I don't rinse off dishes (I scrape them off into the trash), so there aren't large amounts of food residue in my sink anyway.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 10:49AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

What do you do with the cereal mixed with milk left at the bottom of the bowl?

Drink the milk out of the bowl and dump the rest in the trash. :) If it's somebody else's bowl I pour out what I can and trash the rest; there are usually enough paper things in there to soak it up.

Everything else that ends up in the strainer is no problem -- you just whack it upside down on the side of the trash can. This might not work so well with fine mesh strainers that hang onto things, but metal ones with holes tend to let go of little wet pieces easily.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 10:59AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'll play devil's advocate. We've had a GD for years in every house we've lived in. Wouldn't be without one.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 11:13AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

They aren't that hard to install or uninstall. Just take it off and see how you do. You can always put it back on.

That said, we are in a GD-free rental right now and I've gotten used to it over the past year but can't wait to go back. Hate picking out DH's mushy milky bran flakes out of the strainer every morning. Or, more often than not, mushing them into pieces to go through...

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 11:32AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

They're really not very expensive, especially if you rarely use it and can get by with a lower-power, cheaper version. Our city composts food scraps, so we collect ours and send it off with the garbage each week. However, we put a garbage disposal in both sinks just to deal with random things that go down. I decided that for about $60 per sink, it was worth it to not have to worry when DH or kids drop things down the drain.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 12:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have had kitchens with and without garbage disposals, currently without because that was the recommendation (rule?) with our septic system. We used our previous one all the time and I wasn't happy that I couldn't have one here, yet now I rarely miss it. I thought it was sort of smelly and gross most of the time. I have a couple of those little mesh strainers like Audry linked, above, and I toss them in the dishwasher periodically.

We don't add so much milk to our cereal that we'd need to toss it, but occasionally we'll have something like leftover soup that's a mix of chunks and liquid. We pour as much liquid out as we can and dump the rest in the garbage.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 12:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The fact that they are not recommended for septic systems should tell you they are hard on city sewage systems, too.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 12:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I like my garbage disposer. We don't intentionally put food down the drain (like carrot or potato peels), but it's nice for the bits of rice left in the pan, soup that you didn't get every chunk out of, Grape Nuts that you couldn't quite get. I don't run it every day, but I'm glad it's there.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 1:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The question I can't find an answer to, is if you have a garbage disposer and something big goes down the drain, what do you do? You can't grind it up and a chunk of something isn't going to just go away.

No one has really addressed your question. If something goes down into your GD that you can't or don't want to grind up, you put on your big-girl panties ;-), unplug the GD, and reach down there and remove it. Wear gloves if you prefer.

I was always (still am) skeeved by the thought, but if you look at a grinding chamber of a GD, there is nothing to them. Just a round, steel chamber with free-swinging hammer/grinders. I just try to remember that. Looking down there with a flashlight helps me.

Also, a good, powerful GD will grind nearly anything save metal and possibly bone.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 1:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

*What do you do with the cereal mixed with milk left at the bottom of the bowl?*

The strainer catches it and I throw it in the compost, or failing that the garbage.

I don't really get the point of GDs, but I've never had one so perhaps I'd change my tune if i did. They are a very American thing I think. I've never seen one here in Canada (although I'm sure they are here somewhere) and I've lived in a few European countries and have never seen one there either.

I don't really get their purpose, assuming you have a strainer in place in the sink. Yes, it might be gross picking up the wet cereal, meat bits, or yes, bits of octopus, but wash your hands afterwards.

I'm sure if you're accustomed to them you appreciate them, but they certainly are not a necessity. Obviously I would go for more storage space and get rid of the garbage disposer. :)

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 2:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

When I moved into the house I am in now, it had a 1975 updated kitchen and had been vacant for 5 years or so. The GD stunk. It didn't seem to matter what I put down it, the stink would eventually return. Tried ice, bleach, cleaners etc and they would help some but not for long.

I remodeled the kitchen last summer and replaced the GD and during my search for tips on how to get rid of the stink on the old one, I cam across a tip that I used for the new one and have had no issues. It mentioned that as you run the GD it sprays food product along it's interior. So the tip said, run it with hot water and then turn off the GD and run the hot water longer moving it so hot water drains from the sink in all directions into the GD and flushes the bacteria causing food product down the drain. It seems to work, my sink and disposer are not used every day (sits so it can grow bacteria) and has no odor.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 2:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I just read the wiki page on Garbage Disposal and there is more to the issue - just like "paper or plastic" but I stick to my "no garbage disposal" answer because I am on a septic system and I compost.

I grew up with GD's but I haven't had one my entire grown-up life. I don't understand the need for them but that is probably akin to the lady who's been cooking on a wood burning stove just fine, thank you, and doesn't need gas.

I've said it before but I'll say it again because I get such a kick out of it. Love the House Hunter International episode where the family moved to the dad's Scandinavian homeland (for the usual American reasons: the pace of life is so much better and their values are more family oriented, yadayadayada.) She couldn't go native though because she absolutely could not do without a garbage disposal. They built a house!

I do try to teach my children the reality shows can influence the viewers opinions by how they present and edit material so I know I fell for the humor of that episode hook, line and sinker!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 2:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

'if you have a garbage disposer and something big goes down the drain, what do you do? You can't grind it up and a chunk of something isn't going to just go away. "

Unless the "chunk" is a large bone, you can grind it up.

It just takes longer.

Adding some other softer items will help speed the grinding, even ice cubes.

You can run hot water and a squirt of dish soap into the GD to help clean it out.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 2:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Fori is not pleased

My city sewer system isn't a septic system--there really isn't much similarity between them and it wouldn't make sense to draw conclusions for one based on another.

I'm sure we all should try to compost more and throw less down the drain (and into the garbage) but I doubt anyone dumps enough to get preached at about it.

I'm keeping my GD. Don't care if anyone else does. :)

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 3:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Had one growing up - city sewer - and my mom put EVERYTHING down it, chicken bones, veggie peelings, watermelon rinds, the thing was indestructible!

Now I have septic, with a GD and my dh is the gestapo about it. We don't put much down there, scrape plates but occasional chunks, cereal 'bits and pieces' get down there and I don't worry about it too much. Even with the 'limited' use with septic I would not be without it.

IL's have septic and no GD and getting that basket with all the gross in it and banging into the trash really creeps me out, don't care for it. Much happier letting the basket catching go down the drain.

14 years on this septic and no trouble so far. Next house will be septic and I will not be without my GD!

Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 4:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

And the answer to your question Do we Care? I think the answer is yes! Most people seem firmly attached to their GD or firmly comfortable with their decision not to have one!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 4:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

CEFreeman I have nothing to offer (I HAVE a GD but I truly don't care about it), but I really wish you had a personal thread that collected all your posts. Your deadpan delivery and wry humor always makes me laugh.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 4:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Secondhalf. I am deadly serious. Always. I have absolutely no sense of humor what so ever. This is life and death stuff here. I hope you'll treat it as such and quit fooling around: What will the world be if I don't have a garbage disposer!?!?

Ok. On to more serious stuff.
and Whoa, Nellie!

You know that Norman Rockwell painting called "Gossip"?
Well, let me clarify a few things and get back to my original question.

1) I have a GD.
2) I've always had a GD. All my entire life.
3) I am on well and septic.
4) Once in awhile that thing stinks, so I do the hot water trick, too.
5) I barely cook, so the questions were....

Should I just take the darned thing out and have the extra cabinet space?
But what does one do if a chunk of xxx gets down the drain with no garbage disposer? Does it sit and rot? Does it damage the plumbing?

So Angie, m'girl, as far as big girl panties? Not only am I not afraid of sticking my hand in the garbage disposer, I don't (wait for it) EVEN UNPLUG IT. How's that for living dangerously? So lemme see your BG Panties. I'll bet mine are BIGGER than yours. Oh. but that would be referring to my butt, wouldn't it? Never mind.

I'm thinking I might keep it, simply because it's already there. I remember we put everything down that thing growing up, too. Even report cards we didn't want our mom to see. This thread gives new meaning to saying someone "eats like a garbage disposer."

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 5:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

CE: please accept the sink organizer link below as evidence of my solemn vow to quit fooling around. It seems rather expensive but one should spare no expense when dealing with the undersink area. It seems to afford additional room while simultaneously enabling you to retain your GD in the battle against potential chunks.
In solidarity-

Here is a link that might be useful: save the disposers

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 5:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I was looking at a similar Rev-a-shelf under sink caddy today at Lowe's. It will fit fine under my sink, even with the disposer.

BTW, I once had a baby food jar slip down my drain while nobody was looking. That's one good way to ruin a disposer!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 8:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

When we moved to the country, everyone said "OMG, you won't have a GD!!" I said, "Oh, but yes I will". You see, I had talked with several septic tank experts and they assured me I could have my septic tank and the GD too as long as I had a powerful enough motor. Sure enough, 13 years later, I am problem free (both the septic system and the GD). I DO compost a good portion of stuff, but I have always loved the fact I can let stuff go down that side of the sink and it's ground and gone if I want it to be. Occasionally little pieces of stuff go down the island sink or the other side of the main sink. Doesn't seem to be a problem as long as the water runs it through. I have really deep sinks and tall cabs and I have plenty of room underneath.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 8:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I grew up with well water and a septic tank. I did a midde school science project on composting. I'm so over it. Garbage disposals rock!!! I can't imagine why you wouldn't want one... okay, well except for the reason you stated! LOL.

There are lots of obvious reasons for liking the convenience and all, but one thing that hasn't been mentioned is clean up. I don't mind using a paper towel to wipe food scraps off the table and floor and then throwing it away, but in my attempt to be mindful of waste, I do try to use cloth towels. It is much easier to shake off food pieces into a large sink than into a trash can. It's a lot less messy that way. Although, I'm guessing that most of you don't have the disaster on the floor and table that I have after every meal.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 8:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Christine- for me, life would be just plain ewwww, gross. I have put my hand down there (and no I don't unplug either) and it is a fear factor experience every time I've had to do it! I sort of close my eyes and hope for quick and clean removal of whatever I am fetching. It is ummm, a thing I have with reaching into icky places I guess - can't clean out a chicken without disposable gloves on either - no way, uh uh.

I do occasionally put baking soda in there and that supposedly helps with odor (what does baking soda NOT do).

Mom23Es - we have that disaster on the floor around the table as well as sometimes the trail on the way to the trash to scrape the plates...but that is where the dog comes in handy! I also figure with a bit of food in the septic - what better thing to grow bacteria and help break all that stuff down faster!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 9:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

A sink opening with no disposer has an attached cross piece(that the strainer/plug combo sits on. It prevents a large lump of anything from going down your drain. I use mesh strainers now in my sinks as I never fill them with water and they catch every scrap of everything and sit much more flush at the edges than the original plug/strainer combos do.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 10:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Christine, do you realize that in your OP you said "if you have a garbage disposer and something big goes down the drain, what do you do?" ? I was just answering the question you asked. I didn't think to answer the one you didn't! ;-)

So lemme see your BG Panties.

You mean the "One Size Fits Ohio" ones?

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 11:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

[insert snotty girl snort/cough/throat clear/duh sound made with hand on hip, with head weaving back and forth like snake]
Well, of course not.

However, since you BRING it to my attention I see that in the 2nd scenario, I DID [eye roll] mistype, I must ask if you just can't read my (tiny) mind and get on with what I really meant.

To quote Jackie from 'That 70s Show' "I can't be held responsible for everything that comes out of my mouth!" Well, the fingers....

You mean the "One Size Fits Ohio" ones?
Get outta here! You've got those, too!!

[solemn whisper] I sorry, girl.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 9:46AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Secondhalf, I forgot to thank you for your symbol of support. I've always thought those were cool.

Sadly, my space is too small for one of those or stock solutions. That's why I've built a drawer that is roughly 36" wide, the back is only 4" tall, but the front is normal height for a drawer face. The sides taper down. It's the darned disposer that takes up so much room. Then it being a double bowl, I've got a ton of pipes down there.

In some other thread I'll mesmerize you with stories of how my DH (again) put the drains in level to each other so when I turn on the GD, the aforementioned black slime bursts into the other sink to happily gross me out.

Great Mystery of Life: If water can't go down when that plug is in, why can it come up into the sink when I turn that sucker on?

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 9:51AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have had a garbage disposal since I was around 13 or 14 years old. I'm 37 now and it is a total necessity in my kitchen. Everything but large bones goes down it. Since I have a compactor as my trash can, this is how I keep the smells to a minimum. I have a 1 HP In Sink Erator unit. If I did gardening and didn't live on the third floor, I would compost.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 1:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

CEF: your reply had me chortling!

Well, I wouldn't give this advice to everyone, but I think it is appropriate for you. If a chunk goes down, and you don't have a GD, well, that is why P-traps can be disassembled!

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 2:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oh, gross.
You're trying to traumatize me for life, aren't you?

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 2:44PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Soapstone in the Midwest/St. Louis area?
Hi everyone. I've been lurking here for the past year,...
Undermount sink keeps separating from granite
We recently had granite installed in our kitchen and...
My Kitchen Renovation Using Scherr's RTA Cabinets Begins
We start demolition on Monday. We have been actively...
Prep sink location
After a lot of talking on another thread, I took sena01...
Jennifer Weinman
Old, Deep Cast Iron Sink or New Sink? I can't decide
Hello, would love to hear from those of you who have...
Cindy McMahon
Sponsored Products
Classic Red Tablecloth & Table Skirt Set
$9.99 | zulily
Antique Copper Whitehaus WH200 3 1/2'' Disposer for Fireclay Kitchen Sinks
$95.00 | Blue Bath
Whitehaus WHNDBU3118GDL Stainless Steel 32'' Double Bowl Disposal Sink
$439.00 | Blue Bath
Thermocast Kitchen Newport Drop-in Acrylic 33x22x9 3-Hole Double Bowl Kitchen
Home Depot
Birdcage Cake Stand
$17.99 | zulily
Thermocast Kitchen Hartford Drop-in Acrylic 33x22x9 1-Hole Double Bowl Kitchen
Home Depot
Thermocast Kitchen Wyndham Drop-in Acrylic 33x22x9.25 5-Hole Double Bowl
Home Depot
Bird & Branch Paper Place Mat - Set of 24
$7.99 | zulily
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™