Garbage Disposal 101

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Gary with Garbage Disposal


You would never dump food scraps into the bathroom sink, but you don’t think twice about rinsing your plate in the kitchen sink. You have your garbage disposal to thank for your confidence. However, even this robust little appliance needs some care and attention if you want it to last. Follow the instructions in this garbage disposal guide to keep things up and running.

Know What Can’t Go in the Garbage Disposal

It’s okay to send small food scraps down the kitchen sink at the end of a meal. However, there’s a long list of things that shouldn’t go in the garbage disposal. These include:

  • Grease and oil (bacon grease, cooking oil and runoff from making gravy)
  • Hard materials (bones and fruit pits)
  • Fibrous foods (egg shells, corn husks and celery stalks)
  • Starchy foods (coffee grounds, potato peels, and excessive amounts of rice or pasta)
  • Non-food items (string, flower stems and cigarette butts)
  • Drain cleaning chemicals (drain opener, bleach and lye)

Operate the Garbage Disposal Correctly

To ensure safe, proper operation, have a professional install your new garbage disposal. Then, follow these operating tips:

  • Run cold water for a few seconds before and after turning on the disposal.
  • If you hear an unusual sound when running the disposal, turn it off immediately. Shine a light inside to look for foreign objects.
  • If you need to retrieve an item from the garbage disposal, unplug it first. Then, reach inside with tongs, not your bare hands.

Keep the Garbage Disposal Smelling Fresh

As you might expect, bacteria and odors are common in garbage disposals. Keep things fresh using natural items you already have at home:

  • Ice and salt: Toss three or four ice cubes into the garbage disposal along with a handful of rock salt. Run cold water on full blast and grind up these items to loosen oil and grime from the disposal blades.
  • Baking soda and vinegar: Pour a cup of baking soda down the kitchen sink and chase it with a cup of vinegar. The resulting chemical reaction will effectively clean and disinfect the disposal. When the fizzing stops, rinse the sink with cold water.
  • Soapy rinse: Plug the sink and dispense a squirt or two of dish soap. Then, fill the sink up to half full with warm water. Remove the stopper and run the disposal until all the water has drained.
  • Citrus fruit peels: The next time you peel an orange, lemon, lime or grapefruit, grind up the peels a piece or two at a time in the garbage disposal. This helps dislodge items from the blades and leaves a pleasant citrus scent behind.

Garbage disposals require minimal care, and as long as you operate yours correctly, it should work well for years to come. If you need help with garbage disposal maintenance, or the appliance is acting up, please contact Mike Counsil Plumbing at 408-618-8002.


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