How To Treat Your Garbage Disposal

A garbage disposal is a handy item in the kitchen, until, of course, it breaks.  Once your garbage disposal lets you down, life can get interesting.  This is not a good thing, unless you enjoy having a sink full of chunky water, or even a backed up dishwasher with standing, dirty water in it.  Some simple cases of garbage disposal drama can be resolved with drain cleaner, while others might be fixed by taking apart the pipes under the sink to clear the clog (resulting in possibly more of a mess under the sink).  However, it is not uncommon to end up having to call a plumber to fix your sink issues.  If you take proper care of your garbage disposal, it is possible to avoid this situation entirely.

Be sure you are properly using your garbage disposal.

First, avoid using your garbage disposal to get rid of all the excess food you have.  If you have multiple full Tupperware containers of leftovers you are trying to get rid of, find another way to dispose of them.  Only small amounts of food should be put down the disposal at a time.  When you do put food down it, make sure you are running it.  Do not just put food in the sink and let it sit there.  Turn on the disposal when disposing of food, and run cold water at the same time.  After the food is gone down the drain, continue to run the disposal and the water for at least thirty seconds afterwards. 

Careful what you put down that drain!  Avoid putting certain foods down the garbage disposal.

Some things just should not be placed in the garbage disposal.  Different types of food can cause different issues, resulting from clogged pipes to damaged blades. 

  • Oil or grease When oil and grease are put down the disposal, they are likely to cause a clog when they cool down.  Instead of disposing of them this way, put oil and grease in a soup can and freeze it.  Then throw it out with the trash.
  • Stringy vegetables Stringy vegetables such as celery, artichokes, or asparagus can also clog a drain. 
  • Peels Avoid putting peels, like banana peels or potato peels, down the garbage disposal.
  • Starchy foods Pasta and rice expand when wet.  When this happens in your pipes, you are left with a nasty clog and a big mess.
  • Eggshells
  • Fruit pits/seeds/shells
  • Coffee grounds There is some debate on whether or not coffee grounds can go down the disposal.  To be on the safe side, avoid disposing of them in this manner.

Don't put other types of non-edible trash down the garbage disposal.  No matter how convenient it may seem, don't ever put cigarette butts down the garbage disposal.

Clean your garbage disposal regularly.

Cleaning the disposal will keep it from developing a bad smell.  On occasion, turn the disposal off, and remove the rubber piece in the sink.  Wipe the inside of it off with soap and a paper towel, and then replace.  Try making a special tray of ice cubes with water and lemon or vinegar, and then put the ice cubes in the disposal for a pleasant smelling sink.  Some people cut citrus fruits into small pieces and put them down the drain, also. 

Be wary of chemicals.  Strong chemicals can actually eat away and hurt your pipes.  However, if you treat your garbage disposal right, your pipes will appreciate you and won't require any type of drain clearing liquid. Be sure to contact professionals, such as A Absolute Plumbing & Heating, for further assistance.