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What You Need To Know About Garbage Disposals!

What You Need To Know About Garbage Disposals!

Garbage Disposal - Plymouth Plumbers

Did you know that the average American throws away at least 7 pounds of garbage a day?

Garbage disposals help reduce that number by breaking up biodegradable food and flushing it through your plumbing.  What a great way to reduce your daily waste!  In order to keep your garbage disposals running like new, there are some simple things you can do.

Here are some things you will learn in this article:

  • How to Extend the Life of Your Garbage Disposals
  • Good Garbage Disposal Habits
  • Ways to Keep Your Garbage Disposal Smelling Great
  • Tricks for Retrieving Dropped Items
  • Recommendations for Buying a Garbage Disposal

How to Extend the Life of Your Garbage Disposals

Preventing a problem is definitely easier and more cost-effective than dealing with the hassle of a broken appliance.  With busy schedules and commitments, who has time for that? Here are some easy ways to keep your garbage disposal running in tip top shape:

  • Make sure you run your garbage disposal on a regular basis.  If you don’t, it can lead to rust, obstructions, and stuck parts!
  • Keep your garbage disposal clean. This is a great preventive measure that will also increase longevity.  
    • Do you have liquid dish soap? Great! Pour some dish soap into the garbage disposal.  Then run it with cold water for about a minute. This will keep the blades clean.
    • If you have ice cubes (and I’m sure you do), you have an easy way to clean your garbage disposal and sharpen the blades at the same time. Run a few ice cubes through the garbage disposal.  As the ice is chopped up, it will loosen built-up grease while cleaning the internal parts!  Then, as the ice melts, all of that unwanted mess goes right down the drain.  If you want those ice cubes to do double duty, freeze white vinegar and run those cubes through.  This will freshen, clean, and sharpen all at once!  Do this once every few weeks to maintain your garbage disposal and keep it clean.

Graphic 1 - What You Need To Know About Garbage Disposals!

Good Garbage Disposal Habits

Just like brushing your teeth helps you maintain good oral health, there are things you can do to maintain the health of your garbage disposal. You wouldn’t ignore your teeth, so don’t ignore your garbage disposal! Here are some good habits to get into for maintaining your garbage disposal:

  • Use cold water when grinding food waste.  This will help stop food grease and oils from solidifying in your plumbing and causing blockages.  Hot water does the opposite and can cause damaging chunks to get lodged in there.
  • Only use the garbage disposal for biodegradable food.  Other things like glass, plastic, cigarette butts, or paper can clog the drain or damage the blades. If it’s not food, don’t feed it to your garbage disposal!
  • Cut up large items.  In order to avoid clogging, make sure you insert small pieces of food into the garbage disposal. So, don’t shove that whole potato in the drain.  Chop it up first.
  • Avoid pouring straight grease or oil down the drain; it causes clogs! If you have leftover cooking oil or bacon grease, put it in an old can.  Wait for it to harden then throw it in the trash.
  • Certain foods/items ruin your disposal. Obviously, the purpose of the garbage disposal is to dispose of food.  Amazingly enough, there are some foods should not be put down the garbage disposal! Some examples are coffee grinds, vegetables with lots of fibers (such as corn husks or onion skins), foods that expand in water (such as pasta or rice), and large animal bones.  These foods are more likely to cause clogs and damage the blades.  When in doubt, throw it out!
  • Always run water when running the garbage disposal.  Turn on the water first then the garbage disposal.  When finished grinding, turn off the garbage disposal first then let the water run for an additional 10-15 seconds.  Running a garbage disposal while dry can cause internal damage.

Ways to Keep Your Garbage Disposals Smelling Great

Who likes a stinky garbage disposal? No one, that’s who! Do you have a stinky garbage disposal?  Luckily, there are natural ways to stomp out the stench:

  • Want your garbage disposal to have a citrusy fresh scent?  Chop up a lemon, orange, or grapefruit, and run it through.  The acidic fruit oil and juice will clean the inside of the garbage disposal and leave you with a sweet scent.
  • Still have odors? Pour some baking soda or a drain safe cleaning product down the drain.  Let it sit for an hour then run the garbage disposal with hot water.  This should get rid of even the stinkiest of smells (like eggs or fish, yuck)!

clean garbage disposal safely - What You Need To Know About Garbage Disposals!

Tricks for Retrieving Dropped Items

Dropped something down the garbage disposal? Don’t worry, it happens to everyone, and I mean everyone. First, ask yourself this:  Do you want to keep all ten fingers? Hopefully, the answer is a resounding YES! So, never EVER insert your hand into the garbage disposal unless you want to lose a digit!  Here are some tricks for retrieving items from your garbage disposal:

  • Cut the electricity! Always unplug the appliance or turn off the circuit breaker before attempting to retrieve anything.  
  • Use a flashlight! Look down the drain and try to locate the object. If you can see its actual location, you won’t spend as much time fiddling around.
  • Find an object to use! Use something (remember, NOT your fingers) to try and grab the item:  pliers, a bent coat hanger, chopsticks, crochet needles.

Graphic 2 - What You Need To Know About Garbage Disposals!

Buy Quality Products

We have all heard it before: you get what you pay for, and that is no different when it comes to garbage disposals. We recommend InSinkErator garbage disposals because they are tough and stand the test of time. They also come with a great warranty to match.

prod h002 ise disp evo2 group 300x150 - What You Need To Know About Garbage Disposals!

Buy Insinkerator Garbage Disposal


Although regular maintenance and good practices can prevent many issues, bad things can still happen (as we all know).  Plus, it seems these things always occur at the worst possible times, like your septic overflowing on the day of a backyard barbeque or your air conditioning breaking in the middle of a heat wave.  So, what happens if your garbage disposal just won’t work?

  • Presh and reset! Good news, it may just need to be reset.  Look for a red or black reset button on the motor and push. If that doesn’t work, check for electric issues like a tripped circuit breaker or a blown fuse.  
  • Hand crank it! If your garbage disposal seems jammed, look on the side of the appliance for an allen nut head.  Using an allen wrench or a garbage disposal tool (many times this is in a little plastic bag attached to the unit), try to hand crank it free by turning the nut a few times.

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