It’s so easy to just scrape that extra little bit down the drain and let your garbage disposal handle it, right? Ah, but what you don’t know can hurt you—or at least the grinder below. Here are some tips to ensure you get the most out of your garbage disposal, and hopefully prevent it from grinding to a halt.
If It Crunches or Expands, Just Say No
- If it’s too hard for you to chew and digest, it’s too hard to go down the drain. Seeds, bones, and other hard objects can dull your blades or get lodged in the mechanism, causing the motor to overheat.
- Little bits of bread are okay on occasion, but unless you’d like to create a spongey blockage in your disposal and the pipes beyond, avoid excess amounts. The same goes for pasta, potato skins, and rice.
Is It Fatty or Stringy?
- When you cook greasy foods or use oils, it’s tempting to pour those extra fats down the drain. Don’t do it! They will solidify and clog up both your disposal and your pipes, leading to major headaches down the road. Just set fatty substances aside in a container to solidify, then throw them away.
- Stringy foods (such as asparagus or celery) can wrap around the blades and cause the mechanism to jam. These are much better either thrown away or used in a compost pile.
Is It Actual Garbage?
Just say no. Contrary to its name, the garbage disposal is not designed to handle inedible matter like plastic or paper, aka, actual garbage. Just imagine the disaster it would be for your pipes!
Clean It Up
It’s a good idea to refresh your garbage disposal regularly, at least on a weekly basis. There are several popular methods you can choose from:
- Fill the drain with ice and some rock salt and turn on the disposal while running cool water through it. It will sound terrible, but it will actually clean the blades of any leftover residue. The combination may result in a slush that appears to clog the pipe for a moment, but once the ice melts it will all just run right down the drain.
- Add lemon wedges to the disposal and run warm water (not hot) while it grinds them up. The acid in the lemon will help clean the blades while leaving your sink citrusy fresh!
- Make vinegar ice cubes to run through the disposal weekly.
Is it clogged?
Whatever you do, DO NOT run hot water to remove a clog—especially if it involves a fatty substance. You’ll just end up causing the fats to re-solidify and further jam the mechanism. Also avoid commercial drain cleaners. If cool water won’t clear the blockage, your best bet is to turn off the power to the unit, open it up (see your user manual for details), and use a pair of pliers to remove the clog. NEVER stick your hand in there to do it—we’d prefer you keep all of your fingers intact.
Now that you know how to keep up your daily grind, we hope you can enjoy it for many years to come!
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