Caring for Your Garbage Disposal

December 9, 2015

A garbage disposal isn’t a high-maintenance appliance, but proper use and care will help it last for several years. Here are a few things to know about owning a garbage disposal.

Garbage Disposal

What should (and shouldn’t) go in the disposal

Garbage disposals are powerful, but some foods can get tangled up inside them, damage the blades, or clump together and form clogs. Generally, any food that is stringy or starchy should go in the trash or compost bin: potato peels, corn husks, banana skins, etc. Also, throw away or compost coffee grounds, eggshells, and bones. Grease is another big no-no, because it can settle in around the blades and gears, causing clogs.

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 15 minutes.

How to clear a jammed or clogged disposal

Important safety tip: Never try to service a disposal while the power is on, and never use your fingers to pull anything out of a garbage disposal. Don’t use commercial drain cleaner and bleach to clear clogs. Instead, use pliers or tongs to try and pull out any foreign objects that are wrapped around the blades. 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. Then, just push the small red reset button underneath the unit and restart it.