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A Brief History of the Garbage Disposal and What You Shouldn’t Throw Down It

Food waste disposer machine for your kitchen.

It’s not every day that you’re sitting around thinking about your kitchen’s garbage disposal, but you’d be surprised to learn there’s a lot of history behind this taken for granted device.

If you’re not familiar with a garbage disposal, it is an electrically powered device installed under a kitchen sink between the sink’s drain and the trap. The garbage disposal shreds food waste into pieces small enough to pass through plumbing. In the United States, 50% of homes have a garbage disposal.

The garbage disposal was invented in 1927 by John W. Hammes, an architect from Racine, Wisconsin. A patent for the device was issued in 1935 and in 1940 the first garbage disposal was available to the public under the company named InSinkErator. As with most new products, competitors seep in. General Electric claims they were the first to introduce a garbage disposal. Their garbage disposal was introduced in 1935 and was known as the Disposall.

Issues arose in the 1930s and 40s as many cities had regulations prohibiting the placement of food waste into their sewer systems. Using a marketing campaign, Hammes influenced many cities into lifting their restrictions to allow for garbage disposal units.

Today, garbage disposals help to reduce harmful food bacteria and make cleaning up the kitchen easier. A garbage disposal will last many years if used and maintained properly. That’s why being aware of what shouldn’t be thrown down it is so important.

Here are a few common items that should not be thrown down a garbage disposal:

  • Bones – These can destroy your garbage disposal in a matter of seconds. 
  • Grease – When hot grease is in liquid form it goes right down the drain and through the disposal, but when it solidifies when cool, the garbage disposal becomes clogged. 
  • Potato skins – When a large number of potato skins are thrown down the garbage disposal this can create a paste that will clog up the disposal. 
  • Rice – When in water, rice expands and this can happen in your garbage disposal, oftentimes forming a glue-like substance. 
  • Pasta – Just like rice, pasta expands in water and this can happen in your garbage disposal, oftentimes forming a glue-like substance. 
  • Eggshells, celery, and onions – The stringy parts of these foods can wrap around the inside of the garbage disposal causing it to stop working. 
  • Coffee grounds – While coffee grounds may not directly destroy your garbage disposal, they can accumulate and cause clogs. 
  • If you have questions about your garbage disposal unit or need maintenance or repair, Michael’s Plumbing is here to help!

Michael’s Plumbing – Providing First Class Plumbing Service to Orlando and all of Central Florida since 1990.

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