Everyone loves a great meal but hates all the clean up that has to come after. The one thing that makes that duty less demanding is a well working garbage disposal. If not maintained and operated properly, your garbage disposal can clog and break causing a variety of expensive repairs. The good news is that most problems are avoidable with simple tips on the needed maintenance and care for your hard working garbage disposal. Learning relatively easy habits today will prevent drain problems tomorrow! Let’s look at tips on what to do, and of course, tips on what not to do.
Garbage Disposal Do’s:
- Keep hands and body parts and tools out of the garbage disposal unit! Please be safe at all times when operating your garbage disposal, this means not sticking any tool or part in when it’s turned on!
- Clean the garbage disposal with cold water! While cold water is running, grease stays semi solid, and much of it will stay in the garbage disposal until it’s been completely broken down into the smallest particle size. Using a good dish detergent can then suspend these particles, keeping them from depositing in your pipes and taking them down the sewer and to the waste water plant. Just as an note, modern waste water facilities have no problem with properly ground garbage disposal waste treatment.
- Lemon juice can be used to clean the smell of a garbage disposal, making your kitchen smell better, but don’t expect this to keep it clean, the citric acid in lemons and limes is a too weak to do major cleaning. You can also drop orange or lemon peel down the disposal for the same effect.
- Give it time. Let the disposal run for a minute with cold water after you are finished to be sure that all the food has cleared. Try to run material through the garbage disposal in smaller amounts, aiming to reduce how much the garbage disposal “slows down” to chew the material.
Garbage Disposal Don’ts:
- NEVER pour grease, fat, or oil into your garbage disposal. This will clog your drains and ruin your disposal’s grinding ability. Grease in your drains will drain your wallet quick! (see what we did there?=0) ) Many say to use hot water to clear out your disposal, but remember, converting grease to a more liquid form only works to move the grease along until it hits a colder pipe. Then there’s grease buildup in that colder part of the line that will eventually require more expensive cleaning such as hydrojetting to clear out.
- Don’t use harsh chemicals such as bleach or drain cleaners to unclog your disposal. These chemicals can damage your unit by eating the seals that help separate parts of the unit keep working together. Dish washing liquids and those products actually designed for garbage disposals are all you should need if the unit is treated and maintained correctly.
- Don’t grind fibrous items such as celery, banana skins, or corn husks down your disposal. These types of foods have strong, stringy fibers. When these fibers knot up they can stop a disposal unit dead in it’s tracks! Remember, meats can be fibrous too.
- Don’t place Egg shells, bones and other dense materials into you garbage disposal. Not only will these items back your drains up and cause clogs, but the garbage disposal unit will have to be replaced often.
- Don’t put starchy items down your disposal. It can clog your pipes. Oatmeal, for instance, is not a good choice for pouring down your sink. Starches absorb water, create sticky molecular bonds, then these molecules freeze in place inside your disposal. Coffee grounds can also cause problems.
- Don’t overwhelm your disposal. With the water running, feed the food in slowly, in smaller chunks so that the scraps can flow easily through the drain. If the amount of food begins to slow the disposal, or make the sound lower, you’re likely adding the waste too fast.
- Don’t ever grind any non-food item such as paper, glass, metal, cigarette butts, or anything combustible.
- If something is stuck, DO NOT use your fingers to remove it. Turn the unit off, then use tongs or pliers to avoid getting cut by the blades. Please, please don’t ever stick fingers or hands in a disposal!