How to Properly Maintain a Garbage Disposal: The Five Dos and Don’ts

How to Properly Maintain a Garbage Disposal: The Five Dos and Don’ts | On the Dock | GreyDock Blog
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Garbage disposals are essential to a quick post-dinner cleanup. Keep yours in good condition with these tips.

Garbage disposals can be an essential item in helping make kitchen cleanup fast and easy. However, many ask what they should and shouldn’t put in their disposal, and how they can help it perform at its best.

Here are the five dos and don'ts for maintaining a garbage disposal.

1. Do run cold water while the disposal is running. By using cool water, any fat will still be solid as it passes through the disposal and pipes. It is a good idea to run cold water for 5-10 seconds before turning your disposal on. Once the disposal is on, begin putting food into the disposal gradually. Once the food has been ground, let the water run for 10-20 seconds to flush the drain.

Garbage Disposal Maintenance | Always have cold water running when using your garbage disposal.

Don't neglect to run water while your disposal is on. Okay, we’re having a little fun here by being redundant, but we only do so to reinforce the importance of running water before, during and after using your disposal. If you don’t run water, you run the risk of food particles jamming the disposal’s blades causing it to need service or replacement.

2. Do cut large items into smaller pieces and feed them in one at a time rather than all at once. Otherwise, you can overwork the disposal and clog or jam it.

Garbage Disposal Maintenance | Only throw small pieces of food scraps down the disposal.

Don't put bones or other hard objects into the garbage disposal. Hard items can jam, causing the blades to break. Each disposal has a hardness capacity that its blades can handle.

3. Do clean the inside of your garbage disposal on a regular basis. Over time the disposal can have a bit of build up around the sides and even on the blades. Here are some common ways to keep your disposal clean:

Baking Soda and Vinegar:

Simply sprinkle half a cup of baking soda into the drain, then gently pour a cup of white vinegar on top. The mixture will fizzle and bubble. Let it sit for 7 to 10 minutes, then rinse with hot water. Scrubbing inside the disposal with a bottle brush or old toothbrush after applying the baking soda and vinegar can help even more.

Citrus, Citrus, Citrus:

Grinding citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, or limes can help cut grease and eliminate odors. The citric acid will clean the blades and give your kitchen a fresh smell.

Garbage Disposal Maintenance | Use citrus peels to keep your sink smelling fresh.

Ice Cubes and Salt:

Grinding ice cubes and salt in your garbage disposal is a great way to remove tougher sludge and debris that has attached itself to the grinding elements. Place 2 handfuls of ice cubes into your disposal, followed by a half cup of sea salt. Run cold water for 1-2 seconds and then turn your disposal on.

Don't use chemicals to clean your garbage disposal. Avoid using bleach, drain cleaners and other harsh chemicals, even if you’re trying to unclog it. Many chemicals can do quite a bit of damage. For clogs, consider using a plunger.

4. Do put leftover food from meals into the disposal. Garbage disposals offer convenience by grinding up leftovers like meat, breads and other kitchen scraps. It’s better to send these scraps down your drain to a sewage treatment plant or septic system instead of into your trash can. That means less mess and unwanted lingering odors.

Garbage Disposal Maintenance | Send smaller scraps down the disposal. Otherwise you risk the chance of clogs.

Don't grind up potato or banana peels as they can form a paste that can clog your drain and ruin your garbage disposal. Lettuce, celery, asparagus, kale, onion skins and coffee grounds should be avoided too because they can easily entangle the blades of the disposal making it inoperable.

5. Do run your disposal regularly. Even if you don’t have anything to grind, turn the water on and run the disposal. By running the garbage disposal frequently, you can prevent unwanted clogs.

Garbage Disposal Maintenance | Make sure you your disposal frequently, even if you aren't throwing scraps down. It'll help prevent clogs.

Don't put oil, grease, or fat down your disposal. Small amounts are avoidable at times, but that’s another reason to run cold water, not hot. The cold water will cause the grease to harden, which will help it completely evacuate your drain.

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Maintaining your garbage disposal is an easy way to prevent damage and prolong its life. These five dos and don'ts should help clear up any questions when it comes to using your disposal.

Header photo courtesy of InSinkErator.