Here's what happens to a (fake) hand in a garbage disposal

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Fun fact: they used to make a special kind of disposal for use in prisons designed so you couldn’t, uh, shove someone else’s hand down there.

Second fun fact: veterinarians buy a lot of disposals.

Just two of the many useless things I’ve learned in a career in product design.


Is it a “it’s not that bad, you big baby” kinda’ video or a “srsly, don’t watch, you’ll faint” kinda’ video? Please advise.

I still don’t understand why someone would want one of those things in a kitchen.

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The former. It’s too long at 13 minutes for what they show, but they have a high speed camera, which does a good job of showing exactly what happens when a disposal is doing its job.

ETA a response to @Pradaldi

They good for just cleaning up foodstuffs that make it down into the sink. However, many people use it to actually dispose of masses of leftovers. That must be the same idea when people think that dishwashing machines will really eat up and dispose of plenty of caked on food on your dishes. They never work like that. I look at the dishwasher as more of a sanitizing machine.


Some people foolishly overestimate their capabilities(pro tip; discarded artichoke leaves are quite fibrous; and fiber masses are the enemy of shredders not designed quite specifically with that use case in mind. Luckily the circuit breaker saved the motor in that case); but they are great for turning things like vegetable peelings and bits of food debris swept off plates during cleaning or prior to the dishwasher from “must grovel through gross drain trap” to “apply power for 5-30 seconds”.

That said, my sample is tiny and probably biased in ways I’m not even aware of; but the last time I had one with an external switch was two houses ago; more recently they seem to have adopted a clever arrangement where there is a plastic lid that fits into the opening of the disposal, which has a couple of magnets molded into it; and you can only activate the disposal by triggering a couple of hall effect sensors by inserting the lid and rotating it into the locked position.

Obviously spoofable with a couple of random household magnets if you actively want to screw up; but makes insertion of the hand and activation of the unit mutually exclusive conditions unless you are specifically looking to defeat the safeties; unlike the ones just tied to nearby switches.

After a fairly juvenile start, I’m actually impressed at the level of experimentation they went thru to try various fingerly approximations. The hot-dogs-inside-a-glove was entertaining, even if a completely unrealistic substitute.

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There are dishwashers with essentially built in grinders that act as disposals, but they cost more and require additional maintenance. One of my coworkers specifically sought out and bought one just so they didn’t have to worry as much, but I’m mostly with you re: dishwasher. Get stuff in there that’s mostly clean already and then it’ll sanitize.

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I’m going to take a hard pass on reawakening that childhood fear. I still have to take a deep breath anytime I hear something chunking around in there and have to stick my hand in.

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Not all that surprising, considering that is what the garbage disposal is DESIGNED to do.

The instructors in basic training used a pig’s trotter for their “do not play around with a detonator” demonstration; I suppose this would work here too.

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Garbage disposals are just messy failures waiting to happen. Put your garbage in a garbage can or compost pile.

Shoving all sorts of food scraps and grease down your sewer system is not the best thing for avoiding clogs.

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He looks suspiciously like Jesse Pinkman in that screen grab.

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I really don’t want to know the answer to “why”, do I…


They seem to be a very American thing (I don’t remember ever seeing one in Canada, though did see one in Mexico). Seems stupid to overload the sewage system when you can compost food waste. Up here in Canuckstan, food waste is picked up and recycled for compost and returned to the soil.


I don’t understand either. After the 2nd replacement I had started leaking, I plumbed it out of the system altogether. Never can leak again, and I have way more undersink cabinet space now. Until that time, I probably had used it twice in a dozen years.

I never understood why people would want to scrape their food scraps into
the sink rather than just the garbage can. Then have to clean up the sink, clean the disposal so it doesn’t start reaking from the left over crud clinging to the sides of the disposal. Load down the sewage system.

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I don’t get all the disposal hate in here. I use mine all the time. It’s not at all bad for the sewer system. In fact, it’s better because it’s not possible for food stuffs larger than the openings in the grate inside the disposal to make it down the drain. As long as you’re not stupid and don’t throw things down there that shouldn’t go down there, it’s fine. As far as cleanliness goes, throw some eggshells or ice cubes in there from time to time, and it will stay clean and won’t stink.

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