Friday, July 11, 2008

Should you include a waste disposal in your kitchen?

Waste disposals (garburators, waste disposers) have pros and cons. Not everyone needs or wants one. Personally, I wouldn't have one in the house.

  • easy disposal of food waste
  • no bad smelling garbage or compost container
  • waste containers can be smaller
Note: properly managed compost and garbage containers don't have to smell.

  • take up space in the sink cabinet
  • can be noisy
  • can get jammed by or damage items which go into the disposer by mistake
  • another appliance to go wrong and get serviced
  • food wastes add a high load to the sewage system (some areas do not allow disposals for this reason)
  • may overload septic systems
  • can smell (need to have citrus fruit or chemicals run through them to prevent this)
  • can clog and need plumbing disassembled to fix
  • uses a lot of water, which you or your local utility pays for

Because I compost most of my food waste, I don't feel any need for a disposer. But more generally, I believe they waste electricity, water, soil fertility and sewage disposal capacity for very little return in convenience. In fact if I moved into a house with one already installed, I'd probably take it out!

Agree/disagree? let me know!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

"Low maintenance" kitchen materials: Stainless Steel and Granite?

Stainless steel and granite tend to be touted as very tough materials which will last a lifetime. And they probably are. That doesn't mean they are "low maintenance", though, if by that you mean what a normal person would mean - i.e. that they don't need to be cleaned and babied and titivated unnecessarily often, and have special care taken of them.

In fact stainless steel and granite do both need special care and cleaning.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel generally is prone to water spots, fingerprints, and dents. Water spots are sometimes permanent, fingerprints can generally be wiped off - but how many times a day are you willing to do that? Especially if you have small kids. Fridge doors are especially prone to dents. Some "stainless" finishes are much less fingerprint-prone than others, and there are cleaners which make the cleaning both easier and more long lasting. I recommend a search of the Kitchens forum on Gardenweb to find the most up-to-date recommendations from people who actually use their kitchens.


You would think that stone would be the toughest, most cleaning-resistant and least-maintenance material on the planet, right? Apparently not. Granite and other stones need to be sealed after installation and at regular intervals from then onwards. Some cleaning materials will damage them - you have to use the right stuff. High gloss surfaces show marks and fingerprints mercilessly. Some food items can damage or stain them. Very hot pans can cause them to crack. Crisp corners and edges can chip.

So, if you're planning to use these materials, do your homework and make sure you know what they will need in the way of maintenance, and that you'll be happy doing it. Otherwise, why pay all that money just to end up with work you didn't expect or intend?