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Can You Put Chicken Bones in the Garbage Disposal? (And 6 Things to Avoid Grinding)

Can You Put Chicken Bones in the Garbage Disposal? (And 6 Things to Avoid Grinding)

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Y’know those roasted chickens you can buy at the store? The ones with all the delicious seasonings, just hanging out in a warmer in the deli area or by the checkouts?

The ones that have all the juices still in the bottom of the plastic container, and when you take the lid off, the smells assault your senses in a clear cut, close second to heaven?

Yeah, those ones. They’re so versatile. There are so many recipes out there that allow you to use that already cooked, whole chicken and cut out a ton of cook time in your life.

But what do you do with the bones afterwards? Can you put them in the garbage disposal?

While the garbage disposal can probably handle the bones, you really shouldn’t.

Should I Put Chicken Bones in the Garbage Disposal?

Garbage disposals work when the food is in a grinding chamber, where it is spun by a motor on a plate. The spinning sends the food to the outside of the chamber through centrifugal force, where impeller arms force the food to be shredded by the shredder ring.

Once the food particles are shredded well enough, they are then forced out through the waste line.

Most garbage disposals are pretty hardy. Throw the majority of your food scraps in there, run the water, and turn that sucker on to destroy those food scraps.

There are a lot of things that garbage disposals can handle. These include citrus rinds, non-fibrous vegetables, and most meat scraps. 

That being said, there are several things that you should probably not put down the drain. As I stated before, chicken bones are one of them.

Why Shouldn’t I Put Chicken Bones in the Garbage Disposal?

Insinkerator states that you can put small bones in the garbage disposal. Though while you can probably get away with putting a few bones down the garbage disposal, chicken or otherwise, it really probably isn’t a good idea.

The problem really comes down to the damage that bones can do to the garbage disposal. The blades or shredder ring can break down softer food particles, but with something as hard as bone, the damage can mean a reduced lifespan of a useful kitchen appliance.

You also can run into the possibility that any grease left on the chicken bones could congeal in the pipes below the garbage disposal. This grease can cause a backup in the pipe, which may require a licensed plumber to clear.

What Else Shouldn’t I Put in the Garbage Disposal?

Besides chicken bones (or bones in general), there are a few things that you will want to avoid putting in  your garbage disposal.

1 – Any Shells From Seafood

Though shells from things like shrimp may seem like an easy grind for the disposal, they are tougher than you think.

2 – Fibrous Fruits and Vegetables

Things like banana peels, asparagus, and onion skins are fibrous and stringy, which can wrap around the impeller arms, preventing them from rotating and burning the motor out.

3 – Pasta and Rice

Pasta and rice can expand, clogging the pipes below the disposal. 

4 – Nuts

Nut butters are made from grinding up nuts until they form a paste. It’s natural that they would do the same in a garbage disposal, inhibiting the draining of the disposal.

5 – Potato Skins

Potato skins can create a starchy mess, also resulting in a clog below the disposal.

6 – Grease

As referenced above, grease can congeal in the pipes, ending in a backup.

Final Thoughts

Even though there are several instances in which you cannot use a garbage disposal to grind certain food items, when used correctly, a garbage disposal can be an invaluable tool in the kitchen.

Unfortunately, in this case, using the garbage disposal is not advised. If possible, composting the chicken bones is probably your best bet.

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Sunday 28th of March 2021

If I can’t put those six and some other items into my waste disposal, then why in the hell I need a waste disposal?


Saturday 23rd of July 2022

@Antonio, Exactly, I’ve been putting all these things through a good Insinkerator for the last 30 years without problems.