Garbage Disposals – a Do and Don’t List

Garbage disposals are a convenient way to manage food waste in your kitchen. With proper maintenance you can avoid clogged drains and stinky, costly repairs. Treat your garbage disposal well, and it will treat you well! Below we share some tips on how to keep your disposal working smoothly for many years and minimize the likelihood that you’ll need to call for plumbing or drain cleaning services.

Proper maintenance and operation will extend the life of your garbage disposal and prevent plumbing and drain mishaps.

DO Follow these Tips . . .

  • Keep your garbage disposal clean. Pour a little dish soap inside and let the garbage disposal run for a minute or so with cold water after washing dishes.
  • Run your garbage disposal regularly. Frequent use prevents rust and corrosion, assures that all parts stay moving and prevents obstructions from accumulating.
  • Grind food waste with a strong flow of cold water. Using cold water will cause any grease or oils that may get into the unit to solidify, so that they can be chopped up before reaching the trap.
  • Grind certain hard materials such as small chicken and fish bones, egg shells and small fruit pits. A scouring action is created by these materials that cleans the unit.
  • Cut large items into smaller pieces. Add them into the garbage disposal one at a time instead of trying to push through a large amount at once.

DON’T Dare . . .

Water runs smoothly through a clean garbage disposal

Only put biodegradable food in garbage disposals. These appliances are not trash cans! Non-food items can damage both blades and the motor.

When in doubt, throw it out!

  • Don’t grind glass, plastic, metal or paper.
  • Don’t grind anything combustible.
  • Don’t grind cigarette butts
  • Don’t pour grease, oil or fat into your garbage disposal or drain.
  • Don’t use hot water when grinding food waste. Hot water will cause grease to liquefy and accumulate, causing drains to clog.
  • Don’t grind extremely fibrous material like corn husks, celery stalks, onion skins, and artichokes. Fibers from these can tangle and jam the garbage disposal motor and block drains .
  • Don’t turn off the motor or water until grinding is completed. Then, turn off the garbage disposal first. Let water continue to run for at least 15 seconds to flush out any remaining particles. Then turn off water.
  • Don’t put large amounts of food down the garbage disposal. Feed food into the garbage disposal a little at a time with the cold water running.
  • Don’t put expandable foods into your garbage disposal such as pasta and rice. They expand when you add water in a pot and do the same thing once inside your pipes or garbage disposal.
  • Avoid putting coffee grounds down the garbage disposal. They won’t harm the unit and they’ll help eliminate odors, but they can accumulate in drains and pipes, causing clogs.
  • Don’t use harsh chemicals like bleach or drain cleaners. They can damage blades and pipes. Opt for a natural sink cleaner and sanitizer.

Ice is an extremely effective and inexpensive method for cleaning your garbage disposal, sharpening the blades and breaking up any grease build-up which has accumulated. A few ice cubes tossed in the garbage disposal which it’s running will chop the ice and scour all the hard to reach areas of the unit. Try this once or twice a month to keep your garbage disposal in good working order.

Keep Smells at Bay

Here are some natural methods to clean your garbage disposal that are good for the environment and are very inexpensive.

  • Take a lemon or orange and toss it into the disposal. The oils and juice from the fruits and peels naturally clean the walls inside the garbage disposal and create a fresh, long-lasting scent.
  • Freeze vinegar in ice cube trays and run those down the disposal. This will keep your blades sharp while safely killing odor-causing bacteria.
  • For stubborn odors pour baking soda into the drain and let it set for several hours before running the water and disposal.
  • For really stubborn odors, use a safe, natural cleaning product like Borax. Just pour 3-4 tablespoons of Borax down the drain and let it sit for an hour. Then turn on the hot water and flush the cleanser away.

Troubleshooting

Most garbage disposals that appear not to be working just need to be reset. There is usually a red or black reset button on the garbage disposal motor underneath your sink. Just push to reset. If the garbage disposal is plugged into a wall outlet, ensure the outlet has power. If that doesn’t work, check for a blown fuse or tripped circuit breaker.

If the reset doesn’t work, then we are here to help!  Contact Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Heating, & Plumbing at 1.800.461.3010 to schedule a visit with a plumbing expert.