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Common garbage disposal issues and how to prevent them

Updated: Oct 20

The garbage disposal is a modern convenience that makes kitchen cleanup easy, but it's also an appliance that people don't think about unless something goes wrong. By the time your garbage disposal is leaking, humming or just flat out not working, it may be too late. Here is how to keep yours disposing for as long as possible.



Garbage disposals that hum or leak may have clogs or other maintenance issues


Garbage disposal do's and don'ts


Prevention is the name of the game when it comes to keeping your kitchen scraps disappearing down the drain.


Be careful what you put in your disposal


Items like eggshells, seafood shells, coffee grounds, fibrous produce can all clog your disposal. Large quantities of any food can also cause issues, so be sure to go slow and dispose of scraps in batches. It is especially important to avoid greasy substances, like butter, oil and even peanut butter.


Only use cold water in your garbage disposal, especially if it's clogged


Cold water keeps fats congealed and solid so that they get chopped up and rinsed away.

Hot water can melt fat-based items, causing them to coat the inside of your garbage disposal and plumbing. It can also cause food, like pasta, to expand and worsen the clog.


Never use the disposal without the water running


Using your garbage disposal without the water running is like flushing your toilet without water. There's nothing to take the waste away. Running water keeps the inside of your disposal clean by removing food waste as it is chopped. You should also keep your water running for ten to fifteen seconds after grinding to flush any remaining food away from the mechanical parts of your disposal.


How to clean and maintain your garbage disposal

If you smell weird odors coming from inside your drain, it may be the drain itself, more likely it's coming from inside your disposal where food particles accumulate. Learning to properly clean and maintain your garbage disposable is the key to extending it's lifespan.


  1. Always unplug the disposal or turn off the breaker first!

  2. Thoroughly clean the flaps in the drain with soap and water. Then use a flashlight to see where food is built up in the disposal. Use tongs to remove debris, not your fingers.

  3. Turn the power back on and fill the disposal with ice and a cup of salt and let it run with cold water flowing until the ice is gone. This will clean the blades.

  4. Add half a cup of baking soda and a cup of vinegar. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes and rinse with warm water.

  5. Grind several citrus peels like, limes, oranges or lemons, to give a clean smell naturally.


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