Can You Put Eggshells in a Garbage Disposal?

Whether you can or cannot put eggshells in garbage disposals is one of the controversial questions asked among many homeowners. Some people recommend using eggshells to sharpen garbage disposal blades while others loudly and emphatically say that it’s a bad idea. So the question is, what is the actual truth of the matter?

No more than 2-3 eggshells can be put down the garbage disposal at a time, however, it is best to avoid putting eggshells down the disposal at all. The shell itself grinds fine, but the shell membranes will bind themselves to the spaces between the grinding components, causing jams and damage over time.

If you are careful about the number of eggshells you grind in your garbage disposal, it is not likely that it will have any serious problems in the future. However, you must understand exactly what could happen in the event of an eggshell overload so you don’t accidentally cause one. Below are a few things you ought to know.

Eggshells in the Disposal Unit: What Happens?

If you put a single eggshell into a garbage disposal, it will get ground and disposed of through the plumping without any problems. But if you add eggshells in bulk, they will either stick to the grinding components of the unit and jam it or clog the pipes. Here is what InSinkErator says:

“Both coffee grounds and eggshells are sedimentary in nature, if too much is placed in at one time, or if the plumbing is restricted, it can create a clog or a ‘slow drain’ situation. To help avoid any problems, feed these materials into the disposer gradually, and utilize a strong flow of cold water to help flush it through the pipes.”

InSinkErator blog

While the shells themselves can cause problems, your biggest enemy is going to be the thin, white membrane inside the shell. This thin membrane tends to make things sticky and slimy within the disposal. Eggshell membranes will bind themselves to the spaces between the grinding components.

This will make it fairly difficult for water and other food wastes to go through the disposal and drain completely. Over time, this will cause frequent jams in the garbage disposal and will eventually cause it to stick. This will lead to several other kinds of damage. If you notice that your disposal is having trouble running, this could be the problem.

So, we’ve established that eggshells can indeed be put in a garbage disposal. However, frequent use of garbage disposals to grind eggshells could prove to be disastrous. This is especially true for low-power garbage disposals. Since low-power disposals are unable to grind eggshells to very fine sizes as top-end garbage disposals do, they will sediment and clog the pipes.

Even if you run a large quantity of water after running the disposal, that won’t be enough to remove the shells/membranes or flush them out. This is why it is especially important to monitor how many eggshells you put down at your disposal and how often you’re doing it.

As for top-end models that have more power and multi-stage grinding systems, they can grind eggs shells small enough to prevent sedimentation to a certain point at least. However, even they are not invincible and will not be able to rid themselves of those slimy membranes any better than lower power ones can.

Do Eggshells Sharpen Garbage Disposal Blades?

First of all, garbage disposals do not have sharp blades like in a blender or grinder despite common belief. They have a rotating plate that throws food against a stationary grind ring that is fitted on the wall of the grinding chamber. Garbage disposal units do not have blades.

Eggshells are indeed good scourers, and they probably could clean your disposal unit to some degree. However, there are better ways to clean grime and gunk out of your disposal. The simplest option is to use a few ice cubes and salt. This combo provides enough scrubbing action to remove any sticky food wastes, and the ice will melt away without causing any clogs.

If you want to be a little more thorough in your cleaning, you can also try using vinegar and baking soda. First, sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda down the disposal and around the drain ring. Let this sit for a while so it can absorb all the grime. Then, pour enough vinegar on top of the soda to make it bubble and foam up.

Again, let the mixture sit for a while and absorb as much as it can. Once you are satisfied, thoroughly rinse the drain with hot water and then run the garbage disposal. The nice thing about this solution is that it will help rid your sink of any stenches as well as clean the gunk away.

Group of broken eggshells isolated

Unclog Eggshells in the Garbage Disposal

Now that you know how to avoid garbage disposal clogs, it’s important to discuss how to get rid of them if and when they occur. As mentioned above, if you start to notice that your disposal seems stuck or slow, it’s possible that some egg membrane has gotten in and caused some issues. Here are some valuable things to know.

Clog in the Garbage Disposal

If there is a clog in the garbage disposal but you can still run it, grind some ice cubes and salt in it. The ice cubes and salt combination can scrape off most of the eggshell membranes from the surfaces of the grinding components. Try this a few times and then check to see whether the water is draining properly.

Another option is to do as instructed above and add baking soda followed by vinegar. Let the baking soda sit there for about ten minutes, and then add a cup or two of vinegar. Then after a few minutes run hot water. You can add some ice cubes and salt, and grind them as the next step. These should get rid of any eggshells in the garbage disposal.

Clog in the Drain

If the drain is clogged, you will have a tougher time removing it. You will have to remove the garbage disposal (if it is a single sink) and then snake out the clog using a drain snake. If it is a double sink, you can put the drain snake through the second sink instead.

The eggshells are more likely to sediment at the p-trap, so dismantling and cleaning the p-trap may solve the entire problem. Keep in mind that this could turn out to be something of a process, so you should only attempt it if you are sure you know how to handle it. If you are unsure of how to fix it, it might not be a bad idea to enlist the help of a plumber.

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