Six Tips to Keep Your Garbage Disposal Running Right

A person spraying into garbage disposal in stainless steel sink

Your garbage disposal can be a kitchen MVP—but only if it’s working properly. A garbage disposal makes it easy to get rid of food scraps that come off in the sink, grinding them up so that they won’t clog your pipes. However, you still have to take care of your garbage disposal to keep it working right.

Here are six ways to keep your garbage disposal from clogging:

  • Use cold water: You might use hot water to get rid of traces of grease or fat clinging to your dishes, but hot water is actually bad for the garbage disposal. It can melt the food while the disposal tries to grind it, leaving food clinging to the sides of the garbage disposal. Use cold water when you run the disposal: It hardens the food, which makes it easier to grind up and send down the drain.
  • Run your disposal longer: You might not be running your disposal long enough. If you shut it off as soon as it sounds like the food has gone down the drain, you might be inadvertently encouraging clogs. Instead, run the water and the garbage disposal for about a minute afterwards. This ensures that all food bits are disposed of and that the water rinses any remaining debris down the drain.
  • Use the garbage disposal regularly: Use it or lose it—your garbage disposal needs regular use to ensure it doesn’t rust, corrode or freeze up from not running. Even if you’re not sending any food waste down the drain at the time, run the disposal (and cold water) every two to three days. This will help the moving parts stay moving, so it’s ready for the next time you need it.
  • Grind citrus fruit: Every so often, throw a piece of citrus into your garbage disposal. Lemons, limes and oranges will all help remove excess food waste from the disposal’s inner workings. It will also eliminate any smells from decaying, trapped food bits.
  • Cut food waste into smaller pieces: If you have particularly large pieces of food in your sink, cut or tear them up into smaller pieces—or throw them in the garbage. Large pieces of food waste can burn out the motor, clog the disposal or jam the blades, which will require expensive repairs.
  • Know what to avoid: Certain food items should not be put down the disposal. The starch in potato peels, pasta and rice can cause them to cling to the disposal and cause a jam. Fats, oils and grease can harden and clog the disposal. Bones, seeds and pits are too hard for the blades and motor to grind up, and egg shells can stick to the pipes. It’s best to avoid these altogether—unless you miss your plumber and want them to visit.

By following these tips, you’re less likely to have an issue with your garbage disposal. But if you find yourself in a pinch, call PlumbSmart Plumbing Heating and Air right away. We’ll be happy to keep your garbage disposal running right.