Caring for Your Garbage Disposal

July 7, 2022

Most garbage disposal will last 8-12 year with care. Here are a few things to know about maintaining a garbage disposal.

While there are lots of myths about what is good and bad for your garbage disposal, the truth is modern units are very durable.

What Should (And Shouldn’t) Go in the Disposal

The first, and most important rule is: Never put anything other than food in your garbage disposal. If you consult your owner’s manual, you’ll see there are very few restrictions for food items. E.g. no bones, no grease, don’t overload it.

Often the risks associated with certain foods is related to your plumbing, more so than the disposal itself. For example fruit skins/peels, potato skins, coffee grounds, and egg shells. In moderate volumes, your disposal will handle this items with no issues. However, large volumes at once, and frequently putting these items down the drain can cause plumbing clogs and debris build up in your pipes.

General Rules:

  • Only put food items in the garbage disposal.
  • Don’t overload the disposal by shoving a lot of food into it at once.
  • Run the water during and after using the disposal.
  • Consult your owner’s manual for proper use.
  • Follow steps to clean the disposal periodically.
Garbage Disposal

How to Clean and Deodorize a Garbage Disposal

From time to time, all disposals get a little stinky. Bacteria can grow on the tiny particles of food that get stuck on the grinder blades, so it’s important to clean them regularly.

You run a cup of ice cubes through the disposal with half a cup of rock salt or kosher salt. This will scrub off any food waste that’s clinging to the inside of the unit.

To deodorize your sink and give your kitchen a fresh citrus scent, grind up some orange or lemon peels in the disposal. You can also sprinkle about half a cup of baking soda in the disposal and then add a little vinegar. This will create a fizzy chemical reaction that both cleans and deodorizes your garbage disposal. Rinse with hot water after about 5 minutes.

Also, after you use the disposal, let the water run for 5-10 seconds after you have turned the unit off. This will help clear debris.

How to Clear a Jammed or Clogged Disposal

Important safety tip: Never try to service a disposal while the power is on. You should turn off the breaker that controls the disposal.

Also, never use your fingers to pull anything out of a garbage disposal. Always check the owner’s manual before attempting any repair.

Don’t use commercial drain cleaner and bleach to clear clogs. Drano and similar chemicals can cause corrosion inside your garbage disposal. If you do opt to use a chemical cleaner make sure you find a brand that is safe for your unit.

For serious jams, you can often use a flashlight, along with pliers or tongs to try and pull out any foreign objects. You’ll nomrally be able to see items stuck on the blades by simply looking into the unit from the sink. If that doesn’t work, use the wrench that came with the disposal to turn the nut on the bottom of the unit. That should rotate the blades and loosen whatever is stuck inside. Before testing the unit again, run water through it for a minute to two.

When you restore power, you may need to hit the reset button on the bottom of the unit before it will run again.

If you need professional help. We provide repair and replacement service for garbage disposals in the Yukon, El Reno, and Oklahoma City area.