Tips for Keeping Your Garbage Disposal in Top Shape
DO run the garbage disposal every few days.
Even if you don’t have to grind any food scraps up, you should run the appliance with cold water to keep the blades from rusting from lack of use. This also gives any food that might have stuck to the sides of the appliance from a previous use will another chance to wash out.
DON’T send fibrous, starchy, or hard leftovers down the drain.
Avoid all that can break the appliance or gum up the works; if you’re uncertain, check to see if it made this list of no-nos. The garbage disposal is best saved for ice cubes and softer foods—and even those should be cut up small before sent down.
DO power down your garbage disposal when you need to repair or clean it.
Safety first: Unplug the unit or cut power to the kitchen at the circuit breaker before taking any action to prevent the worst from happening while you work around the bladed appliance.
DON’T use your fingers to pull out any clogs.
Instead, avoid injury from the blades by using pliers or tongs to remove any scraps that have not been finely ground up.
DO try untangling any fibers wrapped around your garbage disposal’s blade using the wrench that came with your unit
With that tool, you simply turn the nut at the base of the unit, then press the small red reset button in the center, and flip the switch to restart.
Buyer’s Guide: Garbage Disposals
They’re one of the handiest kitchen helpers, grinding food waste into tiny bits so it can drain away with sink water. Garbage disposals are not only great for post-meal cleanup, they also reduce the amount of leftover food in the trashcan, which cuts down on odors.
A typical garbage disposal will last eight to 15 years, but if yours is on the fritz—or you’d like to add one to your appliance arsenal—you’re probably wondering what to look for in a unit.
All garbage disposals will pulverize soft foods with ease, but some do tend to jam while trying to grind raw fibrous vegetables, such as celery. At the same time, some of the most powerful disposals will chew right through chicken bones!
Read on for the facts, figures, and features—and check out our top three picks based on independent reviews and customer ratings—to find the best garbage disposal for you and your needs.
Before You Buy
Not all municipal sewage systems can handle food waste from garbage disposals. Because bits of food will be flowing through the drainpipes, using a garbage disposal can increase the risk of clogs in your home’s plumbing, or possibly even cause problems beyond your home (in a septic system, for example, or in the municipal sewage system). In addition, using a continuous-feed model, the most common type of disposal, increases water usage, because you must run water continuously while operating the unit.
TIPS TO KEEP YOUR GARBAGE DISPOSAL RUNNING RIGHT
Run Disposal Regularly
Run your garbage disposal on a regular basis. Even if you don’t have anything to grind up, turn on the water and run the disposal every few days to move the parts around. Otherwise, the disposal can freeze up, rust, or corrode; and any leftover food inside can harden, leading to odors and clogs.
Use Cold Water
Run cold water—not hot—when using your garbage disposal. Hot water works great for cleaning most things, but not your garbage disposal.
Run Disposal Longer
After your garbage disposal has finished grinding up the waste, keep it and the water running for a minute. This ensures that all the food has been flushed out the drain pipe to prevent clogs.
Cut Waste into Small Pieces
Your garbage disposal is only so big, and its blades and motor are only so powerful, so don’t expect miracles if you feed it large chunks of meat or fruit.
Grind Citrus Fruit
Soap and cold water will go a long way toward keeping your garbage disposal clean; but once in a while, toss the peel from an orange, lemon, or lime in your disposal.
EASY TIPS FOR MAINTAINING THE GARBAGE DISPOSAL
When the kitchen garbage disposal is running properly, it is a great appliance. It keeps your kitchen smelling fresh and clean. It makes cleaning up after dinner easy. It even reduces the amount of garbage in the landfills. But when the disposal isn’t working properly, the decaying food remaining in the appliance can make your kitchen or even your whole house stink. It is easy to avoid this problem by regularly following five easy tips recommended by plumbers.
Use plenty of water. Every time you run your disposal, turn on the cold water while the food is being chopped up. After you hear the grinding of the motor turn into a soft whir, turn off the device and let the water continue to run for about 10 to 20 seconds. The running water will carry any remaining particles out of the disposal and will more completely flush the pipes.
Use cold water. While hot water won’t damage the parts, cold water is better while running the disposal. Hot water will liquefy greases and fats. When they are in liquid form, grease adheres to the blades and will build up on them.
Avoid hard or fibrous foods. Disposals are for foods that grind into bits and pieces easily. Hard seeds, popcorn kernels, peach stones, apple seeds, or bones don’t grind very well, if at all. The smaller pieces can get wedged underneath the blades causing them to jam. Fibrous foods should be avoided, also, because the fibers tend to wrap themselves around the blades causing them to jam, too. Therefore, avoid onion skins, egg shells, celery stalks, corn husks, etc.
Clean the inside. Over time, it is natural for sludge to build up on the sides and blades of your appliance. It is best to avoid using harsh chemicals since they can damage the parts of your device. You can get a natural chemical reaction by putting baking soda down the drain and pouring vinegar on top of it. Another easy method is to combine the sharpening with the cleaning by putting about a cup of rock salt down the drain when you grind up your ice cubes.
TRICKS FOR RETRIEVING ITEMS FROM THE GARBAGE DISPOSAL
You’re standing over the sink washing some veggies and all the sudden you look down and notice your wedding ring is missing. Uh oh, it must have slipped off and slithered its way down the garbage disposal. Your heart stops as you let out a huge gasp, and perhaps shed a few tears because there is no way you’re going to stick your hand down there.
Don’t fret, because with our handy tricks, the battle between the ring and the garbage disposal ends here. But if you’re still unsure about fishing it out yourself, give your local Roto-Rooter professional a quick call.
First things first, it is extremely important to always use caution when you go to retrieve anything from the garbage disposal. Before sticking your hand or a tool down there, completely turn the power to the disposal off, as well as the main water supply to stop the flow.
GRAB A MAGNET
Before you proceed with this trick, make sure you are dealing with metallic items only or else you’ll be fishing around your disposal for days. To retrieve that ring, tie a long piece of string around a heavy-duty magnet and slowly lower it into the garbage disposal. Use those fishing skills and wiggle the magnet around a bit. You just might have some luck!
USE KITCHEN UTENSILS TO RETRIEVE NONMETAL ITEMS
Use a flashlight to locate nonmetal items that may have fallen down the disposal. Should you see anything, try to retrieve it with tongs, wooden spoons or another long kitchen utensil. Whatever you do, avoid sticking your hand down there – it’s sharp!