Informational Guide

Potato Peels in a Garbage Disposal

Do not put potato peels down the garbage disposal before reading our guide. Learn if these starchy skins are safe for your sink.

by Ian Haynes

Cooking is a fun and creative endeavor for many; cleaning up afterward is the worst aspect of it. Garbage disposals are an excellent and efficient way to keep on top of cleaning but can be clogged by certain foods.

Can you put potato peels in the garbage disposal? Read on to discover why they can cause issues and how to remove blockages.

While you can easily remove some waste via a garbage disposal, potato peels can cause system issues. The high levels of starch within the potato peels mean that they can form a paste when chopped up and combined with small amounts of water. This paste can clog your garbage disposal system or your blades, creating potentially expensive issues down the line.

Potato peels typically clog the pipes themselves or the blades, causing a bacteria build-up, clogs, and unpleasant smells. We recommend avoiding putting potato peels down the drain, but accidents can happen.

If you have them stuck in your system, we have tips on how to get potato peels out of the garbage disposal and get it up and running again.

potato dish

What to Do When Potato Peels Get Stuck in a Drain

Remove the clog

  • Turn off the disposal and unplug if possible.
  • Try to spot the clog, using a flashlight if necessary.
  • If you can see the peels, use tongs to remove as much as possible.
  • Run cold water through the system to check for further clogs.
  • Reset your disposal system according to the manual instructions if it won't turn back on.
  • If the disposal remains jammed, we recommend loosening the grinder plate to release the jam.
  • Put it all back together without over-tightening the bolts to avoid cracking.

Clean the trap

  • Completely turn off the garbage disposal.
  • Place a bucket underneath the trap and remove it according to manual instructions.
  • Rinse the trap carefully and replace it, careful not to over-tighten the screws.
  • Turn the disposal back on and run cold water through the system.

Clear the pipe clog

There are a few ways to clear a pipe clog. We recommend trying to use a plunger or a drain snake first. If these methods are unsuccessful, you could try:

The baking soda and vinegar method:
  • Pour half a cup of soda and vinegar respectively into the drain.
  • Cover the drain and leave for a few minutes.
  • Pour a kettle's worth of hot water down the drain.
The salt and baking soda method:
  • Pour half a cup of salt and baking soda down the drain.
  • Pour six cups of boiling water into the system.
  • Let the mixture sit overnight.
  • Flush with cold water the following morning.

If these methods do not work, try using a commercial drain cleaner. Do not use a commercial cleaner before trying these methods as that can cause damage to your garbage disposal.

Things That Shouldn’t Go Down A Garbage Disposal

  • Grease or Oil
    When poured into a garbage disposal system, Grease and oil accumulate on the sides over time to form nasty clogs. If you need to dispose of used cooking oil, wait for it to cool and pour it into a jar before throwing it in the trash.
  • Fibrous Foods
    Fibrous foods that are hard to break down, such as casseroles, corn, and onion peels, can cause clogs or block your system's blades. Put them onto some kitchen paper before putting them in the compost or trash.
  • Bones
    While very tiny bones can go through your system occasionally, we recommend putting any bones directly into the trash or compost pile. Your system's blades are not strong enough to tear through bones, especially significantly larger ones.
  • Egg Shells
    When put into a garbage disposal, the inner membrane on an eggshell can catch on the blades, crushing the shell into a sand-like substance. This can clog your system or prevent the blades from moving effectively.
  • Pits and Seeds
    Pits and seeds are not suited to go down your garbage disposal. We recommend putting the seeds into the trash or compost heap. However, you can put seed-free citrus wedges into your disposal for a fresh smell in your kitchen.

People also Ask (FAQs)

How should you dispose of potato peels or skins if they don't go in a waste disposer?

We recommend putting potato peels into the compost or trash bins rather than into a waste disposal system.

Should you run water when using the garbage disposal?

That depends on your garbage disposal; consult your manual for specific guidelines.

Is hot or cold water better for garbage disposal?

Run cold water unless there is a clog, in which case use hot water.

What does it mean when your garbage disposal stinks?

A smelly garbage disposal can mean a food or bacteria build-up is present within the system that needs to be cleaned out. Follow our steps above to improve your garbage disposal's smell and function.

How often should you clean your garbage disposal?

We recommend giving your garbage disposal a thorough clean once every two weeks.


Garbage disposals are incredible inventions that take much of the hassle out of kitchen cleaning. However, if not correctly cared for, they can cause headaches. Avoid putting potato peels and other foods into your disposal for optimum system functionality.

Ian Haynes is an expert writer who has successfully deployed over 500 plumbing pages and other related content. He has an excellent understanding of home plumbing issues and translates his experiences via Plumbing Lab so readers can have a better understanding of common household problems. Outside of his work, Ian likes exploring Brooklyn with his Labrador.