Don’t “Dis” Your Disposal

Remember the days before garbage disposals? Food remnants actually had to be carried out with the trash. Those were difficult times. If you want to avoid such struggles, you need to treat your disposal with a little respect.

Your garbage disposal may very well be the hardest working appliance in your kitchen. Most of the time it takes whatever you give it, shreds it up and sends it on its way down your drainage system. Treating your disposal with a little bit of respect will help it to keep doing its job for years to come.


  • Always run cold water when running your disposal.
  • Keep your garbage disposal clean. Pour a bit of dish washing detergent down the drain and let your disposal run for a minute or so.
  • Use your disposal frequently. This prevents rust and corrosion and keeps food particles from building up and clogging the drain.
  • Occasionally grind ice cubes in your disposal. This creates a scouring action that cleans the disposal’s walls.
  • Grind peelings from citrus fruit in your disposal once a week or so. This helps keep your drain smelling fresh.
  • Cut larger items into smaller pieces. Put them in the disposal one at a time instead of shoving them all in at once.
  • Allow the cold water to run for 15-30 seconds after grinding is complete.


  • Never put anything in your disposal that is not biodegradable – no glass, plastic, metal or paper.
  • Never grind anything combustible.
  • Never grind cigarette butts.
  • Never pour grease, oil or fat into your disposal.
  • Do not use hot water when running your disposal. Hot water may cause grease to liquify and then accumulate on the drain pipes as it cools. This can cause blockages.
  • Do not grind fibrous materials like corn husks, celery stalks, onion skins or artichokes.
  • Do not turn off the disposal until grinding is complete.
  • Do not put potato peels in your disposal. The starch will turn into a paste that can cause the blades to stick.
  • Do not put foods that expand, like pasta or rice, into your disposal.
  • Do not grind large animal bones.
  • Do not put coffee grounds in your disposal. They can cause clogs.
  • Do not use harsh chemicals like bleach or drain cleaners. They may damage blades and pipes.
  • Do not put gelatin or whipped topping in your disposal. They will cling to your pipes and cause blockages.


  • Always unplug your disposal before performing any work on it.
  • Water and electricity are a bad combination. Turn off the breaker for your disposal before performing any work on it.
  • Never stick your fingers or hand into the opening of the disposal unless it is unplugged.


  • Most disposals come with a reset button. This serves as a fuse, of sorts, when the disposal is overloaded. If your disposal stops working, clear the blockage (see Safety, above) and press the reset button.
  • Almost all disposals can be rotated manually to assist in clearing blockages and jams. Some require an Allen Wrench to be rotated manually. Others require a special tool. Insert the Allen Wrench or tool into the corresponding opening on the bottom of the disposal to rotate the grinder.

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