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Keep Your Garbage Disposal In Top Shape

It’s pretty easy to treat your garbage disposal like a trash can. The truth is that the humble garbage disposal is more sensitive than many people believe and can easily break or malfunction if not treated properly. Here is some advice for keeping your garbage disposal in top shape.

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1. The Garbage Disposal is Actually Not a Trash Can.

Most of us toss anything and everything into the garbage disposal without thinking too much about it. The disposal is designed to grind up small pieces of soft food so they don’t clog your plumbing. The following items should never be put into your kitchen disposal:

  • Eggshells
  • Bones
  • Meat fats
  • Unpopped popcorn kernels or fruit pits
  • Anything expandable like rice
  • Asparagus, celery and other fibrous vegetables
  • Any non-food products

2. Invest In A Repair Tool.

You can find a garbage disposal repair tool or ¼” Allen key for only a few dollars at just about any hardware or home improvement store. Buy one. Most garbage disposals have a hole in the bottom where you can insert the tool and hand crank the mechanism if it gets jammed—no need to call a plumbing professional.

3. Look Sharp.

A garbage disposal has two metal teeth that whip around, grinding food between them. Over time, those teeth can wear down, which means they work less effectively and the disposal can clog. Luckily, it’s really easy to sharpen the blades. You can run a filter full of coffee grounds or a handful of ice cubes through the disposal once a month to keep the blades sharp. Ignore the horrible noise you’re likely to hear—that just means it’s working!

4. Water Is Good…For Your Garbage Disposal.

Anytime you put leftovers in the disposal, be sure to run cold water at the same time. The water helps lubricate the blades and eases the food down through the drain holes. Remember, always use cold water—not hot—because hot water can actually cause substances to melt away from the food and coat your pipes.

5. Hit The Reset.

Did you know that your garbage disposal has a reset function? Many people don’t realize that the solution to many disposal problems is this little-known feature. Sometimes the simplest way to repair a malfunctioning unit is to just reset it. If the disposal gets overloaded, it can trigger a small red “reset” button to pop out of the unit; the motor will stall so the system can rest. If this happens, clear whatever is jamming the disposal and just push the button back in. Problem solved.

Most of these common disposal repairs are simple to do yourself with little expense. However, if you do get stuck or you think the problem is bigger than you should be tackling alone, there’s no shame in calling in professional reinforcements.


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