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7 Tips and Facts About Your Garbage Disposal

We see a lot of issues arise when homeowners unknowingly put harmful items down their garbage disposal. Luckily, our trusted plumbing professionals have put together a list to help you keep your garbage disposal clean and running efficiently!

1. Garbage Disposal vs. Garbage Can

Your garbage disposal is mounted to the underside of your sink and is designed to store food waste in a hopper chamber (just beneath the drain and upper part of the disposal). Your garbage disposal is different from your actual garbage can in that not all food scraps and liquids are meant to be poured into your disposal. Clogs are most often caused by how the ground food waste reacts to water or lack of water after the disposal unit has ground it up and sent it on its way into the waste line.

2. Do's and Don'ts

Do’s for Your Garbage Disposal:

  • Use dish soap.
  • Use plenty of water.
  • Use citrus scents to keep it fresh.
  • Run cold water through the disposal.
  • Allow water to run after using to clear any leftover debris.

Don’ts for Your Garbage Disposal:

  • Use corrosive chemicals.
  • Put hard food items in your disposal.
  • Pour oils and fats down your drain.
  • Put anything that isn’t food in your disposal.
  • Put eggshells in your disposal.
  • Put fibrous foods into the disposal.
  • Put rice or pasta down the drain.
  • Put large amounts of coffee grounds in your disposal.
3. Your Disposal Can Only Dispose of So Much

Your trusted garbage disposal can’t always take everything that you throw at it. Contrary to popular belief, your garbage disposal isn’t made for items such as popcorn kernels, bones, fibrous things like celery stalks and corn husks, etc. These things are better off going in the trashcan or your compost pile (minus the bones)! Additionally, don’t over-stuff your disposal. You should never stuff your disposal to the brim because you will just end up with a clogged sink and a huge headache. Instead, split your scraps into smaller pieces that will go down your drain much easier.

4. Keep Your Disposal Clear

Use cold water to clear out your disposal. Yes, hot water melts fats and grease, but that melted liquid will harden in your pipes later, giving you a nasty drain clog. Therefore, it’s better to use cold water to just whisk away food particles. We recommend letting your water run for about 15 seconds to ensure there’s nothing trapped in the that will cause clogs and odors later.

5. Caring for Your Disposal

Always take the time to clean your disposal properly. Never pour liquid plumbing cleaners into your garbage disposal. Instead, try grinding some citrus peel for a nice scent. Some folks suggest to use ice cubes made of vinegar once a month for a squeaky-clean disposal!

6. Avoid Putting These in Your Garbage Disposal
  • Rinds - like those found on melons and pumpkins—are a no-no, since they’re too hard to chop up easily. Send them to the compost heap! Just like it can’t handle fruit pits, your disposal can’t handle bones - even ones that have been cooked soft. Fish bones are the only exception.
  • Pasta and rice expand when they get wet. When you put them in a disposal, even after they’re cooked, they keep expanding and can clog up the disposal trap.
  • Coffee grounds and coffee beans make your disposal smell awesome, but they can clog the trap in your garbage disposal. Either compost them or throw them away. At least your trashcan will smell good!
  • Old flowers - if you are replacing flowers or getting rid of some old ones, do not place them in your disposal. The stems can sometimes be very rough and may not break apart which can lead to clogged drains and drain pipes.
7. Beware of Grease

Just because your garbage disposal is whirring doesn’t mean that grease and oils won’t clog your pipes. Just one batch of hardened grease can have you calling a plumber. The best way to dispose of cooking oil without making a mess is to put it in a sealable container that you don’t intend to recycle and simply throw it away. Be sure that you’re not pouring hot oil or grease, this can splash back on you. Let the oil or grease cool off completely, then remove it from your cooking pan. Doing it this way you’ll save your drains from getting clogged.