Keep Your Garbage Disposal Working Right with These Ten Tips

March 8, 2019

The best way to dispose of odor-causing food and to keep your kitchen sanitary is to use a garbage disposal. They have become kitchen mainstays that make après-cooking clean up easier and quicker.  The problem is that many peopled don’t really understand that the garbage disposal – as sturdy as it may seem – isn’t really a catch all.  There are actually certain food items that simply shouldn’t go in there.  Plus, your garbage disposal needs some occasional TLC in order to keep it functioning properly.


  1. What not to put in the garbage disposal: peach/apricot/prune/avocado pits, bones, shells, coffee grounds/filters, tea bags or anything fibrous, stringy or starchy such as potato peels, corn husks, corn cobs, asparagus, celery, artichoke leaves, banana peels, rice and pasta. While most of these make sense as they are difficult to grind, the last two may surprise you. Glutinous rice and pasta can gum up the blades or clog your drain pipes.
  2. Before, during and after using the disposal run plenty of cold water in the sink to flush the debris through your plumbing system thoroughly.
  3. Don’t overfill the disposal. If you have a lot of food to dispose of, do so a little bit at a time with the water running.
  4. Give your garbage disposal the quick sniff test each morning before you do the breakfast dishes to be sure nothing is trapped and rotting in  there from the day before.
  5. To sharpen the grinding blades and remove any lingering odors,  run your disposal with a handful of ice cubes and a quartered lemon and then flush it with cold water. This also helps to remove sludgy build-up.
  6. Never pour bleach, drain cleaners, or other chemicals into the unit.
  7. It is almost inevitable that something will make its way into the disposal that shouldn’t, like utensils, glass, problematic foods (see #1 above), etc. When this happens, never, EVER use your hand to remove these objects no matter how tempting it is to resolve the problem immediately. Instead, use tongs or pliers.
  8. Purchase a home warranty plan that covers garbage disposal repairs or replacement. This will give you peace of mind when you use the disposal – and, depending on the plan, other major systems and appliances in your home.
  9. At least once a year, you should clean the garbage disposal by pouring a cup of white distilled vinegar into it, letting it sit for an hour, then running hot water to flush it out.
  10. If something gets  jammed in the garbage disposal blades that you cannot retrieve with tongs, use the disposal wrench that was supplied with your unit (you may find it in a pocket on the side of the disposal). Place the wrench in the female receptor at the bottom of the disposal, turn it counter-clockwise until the blades begin to rotate and press the reset button. See the owner’s manual for complete instructions and location of the reset button (if applicable).


Finally, know your unit and follow the manufacturer recommendations that can be found in the owner’s manual.  By doing so, you’ll increase its lifespan and minimize the need to ever call a repairman.