Like any appliance in your home, your garbage disposal needs some care to avoid breaking down. Here are six tips to help keep your disposal running right!
Regularly Run Your Disposal
One of the best things you can do to keep your garbage disposal in good condition is to simply run it. Some recommend running your disposal every day, but if you live alone or don’t eat at home too often, you may not run it much at all. In any case, try and run your disposal every two or three days.
You don’t even have to put anything in your disposal. Just run some cold water and turn your unit on for about a minute. Doing this will ensure the blades don’t become rusted from lack of use. This will also help to get rid of any build-up from food or dish soap left over from previous uses.
Use Cold Water
We mentioned using cold water above, which brings us to this point. When using your garbage disposal, make sure you use cold water, not hot. You may think hot water needs to be used because it cleans most things, but this isn’t the case with your disposal.
Hot water can melt the foods your disposal is trying to grind up, allowing them to cling to the sides and the blades. Hot water can also push fats and grease down your pipes, causing them to solidify later on and create stubborn clogs. Cold water, on the other hand, hardens food, making it easier for the garbage disposal to grind it up and push it out of the drain pipe.
Clean Every Two Weeks
To keep things running smoothly, it’s a good idea to clean your disposal about once every two weeks. This depends on the frequency with which you use it, but two weeks is a good starting point.
To remove stuck-on food waste, fill the disposal with ice cubes, add a cup of rock salt, turn on a small stream of water, and run the unit. The action of grinding up the ice cleans the blades and helps to dislodge bits of food that have gotten stuck in the components. Run the disposal until all the ice is gone.
You can also clean and deodorize your garbage disposal with good, old fashion baking soda and vinegar. Pour ½ cup of baking soda into your disposal, then slowly and carefully pour one cup of white vinegar in. Cover the drain to trap the fizzy scrubbing action inside the disposal. Wait 10 minutes, remove the stopper, and flush out your garbage disposal with water. Since these are natural cleaning products, they won’t damage your disposal like harsh chemical cleaners can.
Avoid Products that Cause Damage
One of the most important tips we can give is to know what can’t go into your garbage disposal. There are many common foods that you may not know can potentially harm your disposal or your pipes. Here are a few things you should avoid putting in:
- Fats and oils: Fats, oils, and greases should not be poured down your disposal, no matter how easy it is. These will create a film over the blades, making them dull and ineffective, as well as causing build-up and clogs over time.
- Eggshells: Although controversial on whether or not they can go down the disposal, we think it’s better to err on the side of caution. They can easily get stuck and cause clogs, so we think it’s best to just throw these in the trash.
- Coffee grounds: Just as with eggshells, coffee grounds can easily cause clogs.
- Fibrous vegetables: Foods such as celery, asparagus, potato skins, and lettuce should not go down your disposal. These fibrous foods can get caught in the blades and overheat or break your unit.
- Seeds and bones: Chicken bones, apple cores, and hard items like these should not be put through the disposal. These objects are too hard for the motor and can cause some serious damage.
- Expandable foods: Pasta, rice, and items with starch can cling to the disposal. In addition, water can cause them to expand in the unit, causing a clog.
- Nonfood items: Only food items should go down your disposal. Make sure you properly dispose of twist ties, straws, forks, glass, and paper.
Cut Waste into Small Pieces
Your garbage disposal is only so big, and its blades and motors are only so powerful. So if you throw a big piece of meat or fruit in the disposal, don’t expect any miracles. To help your unit out, cut your waste into smaller chunks, and put in a few pieces at a time. Otherwise, you can overwork or jam your unit – or worse, break it altogether.
Avoid Turning Water Off Too Soon
When using your disposal, make sure you’re not turning the water off too soon. The water and the motor should run at the same time while food waste is being broken down. This is because the motor enables the food to break down effectively while the water washes off any particle build-up to prevent clogging in the pipes. When you turn off the water early, the particles may not completely wash away, putting the unit at risk of a blockage. So make sure you keep that water running until you’re ready to turn off your disposal.
Got a Garbage Disposal Problem? We’re Here to Fix it
If you find yourself with a disposal that’s on the fritz, don’t worry, Phillips Plumbing Solutions is here to help. We can provide disposal repairs, as well as installation services.
With over 25 years of plumbing experience, Phillips Plumbing Solutions offer a wide range of residential plumbing services to meet your home’s needs. We are located in Queen Creek, Arizona, and serve our neighbors across the East Valley. Let us provide the quality plumbing services you deserve.