6 Common Garbage Disposal Mistakes

Categories: Kitchens

Are you keeping your garbage disposal in good shape?

Are you keeping your garbage disposal in good shape?

When it comes to holiday festivities, garbage disposals usually end up having a lot of work to do. And unfortunately, there are a lot of common misconceptions among homeowners about how to safely use them. Here are a few handy tips you should keep in mind when running your garbage disposal.


  • Using the wrong operating sequence – For best results, always start by running cool water. Then turn on the disposal and gradually put food in. Do not shove it in all at once. Run the disposal until the food is all gone. Afterwards, turn off the disposal and let the water run for 10 to 15 seconds to ensure everything is flushed out.
  • Not cleaning it correctly – Never use bleach or harsh drain cleaners to clean your disposal. Instead, sprinkle some baking soda and throw some fresh lemon or lime slices in to help eliminate odors. You can also grind up a few ice cubes to try and remove bits of food that may be caught inside.
  • Running hot water while grinding waste – It’s a better idea to use cold water, as this will help fats and greases to move along the pipes intact. Hot water may melt fats and end up clogging your pipes.
  • Shoving down nonfood items – A garbage disposal is for food waste only. Do not put wooden matches, cigarettes, rubber bands, or twist ties down the drain;
  • Pouring grease or fat down the disposal – Grease that solidifies in your pipes can be a big problem. Instead, dispose of grease and fats through spare cans or glass jars to let it cool before throwing it away.
  • Resetting your garbage disposal – If your disposal is malfunctioning, start by turning the unit off and then pressing the reset button beneath the unit (usually red). This button acts as a local circuit breaker and may help you reestablish power. Most disposals are also sold with a jam key that you can insert into the hole at the bottom of the disposal housing. Rotate it a few times to see if you can clear the jam. If you’re still having trouble, call a service technician.

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