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Garbage disposals are one of the most useful appliances you can have in your kitchen. They reduce cleaning obligations, but like any household appliance, they must be properly maintained. Failing to give your garbage disposal the attention it needs can result in breakdowns, clogs and drain blockage, all of which can all lead to expensive plumbing bills.

The good news is caring for your garbage disposal is simple. By keeping your disposal maintained and avoiding a few common mistakes, it will last for many years in your home.


Maintaining Your Disposal

First, it’s important to know what steps to take to maintain your garbage disposal. The following tips can help you avoid serious (and expensive) problems:

  • Keep your disposal clear. You can do this by pouring dish soap into the disposal, turning on the cold water, and allowing it to run for at least a minute.
  • Run your disposal on a regular basis to avoid blockage, rust, and corrosion. This is also an opportunity to make sure it’s running properly.
  • Grind harder materials every now and then to create a scouring action from the particles to clean the chamber and walls of the disposal. You can use egg shells, small fruit pits, or fish bones.
  • Ice is also a great tool for cleaning your disposal and it sharpens the blades. You can even freeze vinegar to combine sharpening and freshening your disposal into one. This should be done a couple of times per month. Borax is also a natural product for cleaning and sanitizing that will wash away odor-causing mold and mildew. You can check out other cleaning ideas here.
  • Cut larger items into smaller pieces and avoid shoving large amounts into the disposal.
  • Run a strong cold water flow when grinding waste so oil will solidify and be ground up before it reaches the trap.

Avoiding Problems with Your Garbage Disposal

In addition to the things you should do to keep your disposal in good working order, there are also a few things you should avoid:

  • Grinding glass, metal, plastic, paper, or anything combustible
  • Putting cigarette butts in the disposal
  • Draining grease in your disposal
  • Grinding foods that are fibrous, such as onion skins, celery, rice, pasta, or corn husks. Also avoid potato peels,  large animal bones, coffee grounds, and artichokes.
  • Using hot water when grinding
  • Using abrasive drain cleaners

The proper way to use a garbage disposal, no matter what you are grinding, is to run the disposal until grinding of the item is complete, turn off, and allow the cold water to continue running for at least 15 seconds. This flushes out excess particles of food. It’s also important to feed food into the disposal a little at a time to keep them flowing freely down the drain.

One final tip that covers maintenance and safety: NEVER insert your unprotected hand into the garbage disposal. If you need to use your hand to remove objects and debris from the garbage disposal, unplug the unit or turn off the circuit breaker, and wear safety gloves to protect from the sharp blades.

If you need more tips for maintaining your disposal or you are in need of service, give us a call!