A garbage disposal is a helpful kitchen feature. When used properly, your garbage disposal can make kitchen-clean up simple. When used improperly, you can have a big and stinky mess in your kitchen sink.
Like all appliances in your home if you take a few precautionary steps you can save yourself time, money, and plumbing headaches. But like anything in your house, if used incorrectly it can cause immediate or future problems. Here are a few tips to keep your garbage disposal running smoothly and to avoid potential problems.
Garbage Disposal Do's
Turn on a medium to strong cold water flow before you start using the appliance. Continue running the cold water for fifteen seconds after the food grinding stops. This will flush the drain line and the disposal free of food particles.
Occasionally put a small amount of ice into the disposal to help clean the inside of the grinding area. Use caution when doing this. Make sure you have the drain stopper in place to avoid fly particles of ice.
Consider having your kitchen drain line snaked at least once every year or two as preventative maintenance. Remember that the disposal is only as good as the drain line serving it. Occasionally use a disposal cleaner or de-greaser to help eliminate any grease that may cause unpleasant odors. Check to make sure that the product is authorized by the disposal manufacturer beforehand.
What NOT to put down your garbage disposal:
1. Grease, Oil, or Bacon Fat
You might think that running hot water to liquefy the fats and oils will help to lubricate the blades and pipes, but this is not the case. It is actually bad news and causes the grease to slowly build up and coat the blades which impedes their grinding ability and can clog drains.
2. Coffee Grounds
The thought here is that flushing coffee grounds down the disposal will help to eliminate odors. While this can be true, those little crusty coffee particles actually accumulate in the pipes and cause blockages. It’s best to toss the coffee filter and grounds in the garbage.
3. Potato Peels
Do not even think about putting the peels down the garbage disposal. The starches in the cut potatoes turn into a thick gluey paste and can cause the disposal’s blades to stick or create a major traffic jam in the pipes.
4. Asparagus and Celery
These long vegetables fall into the fibrous category like banana peels because they are so stringy. These ‘strings’ can actually wrap around the disposal blades and cause the motor to seize.
5. Banana Peels
Fibrous materials like banana peels, onion skins, corn husks, and artichokes are extremely rough on your garbage disposal. These vegetable jackets are designed by nature to protect the food inside so they can handle a bit of beating from your garbage disposal. Your disposal motor and drain on the other hand, can’t handle these tough skins and can get jammed or blocked.
6. Cherry, Avocado, Peach, and Olive Pits
These hard cores are way too much work for your garbage disposal to break down. Avoid putting these down the garbage disposal.
7. BonesContrary to what you may have been taught by mom, bones don’t sharpen the disposal’s blades – it dulls them just as they would do to your cutlery if you tried to cut them up with your kitchen knives. Always toss all animal bones (beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and fish) in the trash.
8. Egg ShellsMuch like coffee grounds, it is just better to avoid putting them down the garbage disposal. They can easily cause blockages.
9. Rice and PastaJust as these foods expand when you put them in boiling water, they do the same thing in your disposal and pipes. “Al dente” pasta and rice is cooked until they are still firm which means that there’s still room to absorb water and expand when flushed down the drain.
10. Bleach and DrainoHarsh chemicals and cleaners can ruin your disposal’s seals and actually eat through pipes.
Other Do Not's
Using hot water while grinding food is not recommended. It is perfectly acceptable to run hot water down the drain after you have used the disposal. However, it is even more important that only cold water be used during the food grinding process.
Do not feed the garbage disposal handfuls of vegetable peels at once. The garbage disposal has a tough time with vegetable and fruit peels. Keep the cuttings in a separate container and feed them slowly into the grinder while running plenty of cold water. Some recommend putting orange or lemon peels down the garbage disposal, but this can cause strain on the appliance. It can also cause bigger and quicker backups in your drain.
Be careful using cleaning products. They can be too harsh on your garbage disposal. There are cleaning products that are made specifically for garbage disposals that work well.
Avoid using hot water on a regular basis because this could cause unwanted problems.
6 Signs You May Need a New Garbage Disposal
- It won’t turn on at all, this one is pretty obvious but it’s worth mentioning. Sometimes hitting the re-set button on the side of the disposal will solve this problem but if it does not, you likely need a new disposal.
- The garbage disposal jams every time you use it, even for small food waste cleanups.
- You notice water leaking from the disposal.
- The garbage disposal makes a loud, metal on metal sound when in use.
- Even when you use the tips suggested above, there is always a foul odor coming from the garbage disposal.
- Food waste that used to grind up and flush away quickly now seems to take longer than usual.