Garbage disposals are electric appliances installed under kitchen sinks that are designed to shred food waste into small pieces, which can then be flushed down the drain with water. The device consists of a motor, a chamber where the waste is ground up, and an impeller that helps force the waste through the drainpipe.

The appliance is controlled by a switch located on the wall or sink, and it is typically installed in residential kitchens, but it’s most common in restaurants and commercial kitchens.

Garbage disposals are important because they help reduce food waste and prevent clogs in pipes and drains. The shredding of food waste into small pieces makes it easier to flush down the drain, reducing the amount of food waste that ends up in landfills.

Garbage disposals require proper maintenance to function efficiently and last longer. Regular maintenance of your garbage disposals can help prevent smelly odors, rusts, clogs, and freeze-ups.

The following are effective tips for keeping your garbage disposal well-maintained and functioning well:

1. Don’t throw in hard objects

Avoid throwing hard or fibrous objects such as bones, fruit pits, shells, and fibrous vegetables like celery, artichokes, and asparagus down the disposal. These objects can cause damage to the blades that may result in clogging.

2. Don’t use it as a trash bin

You may be tempted to use your garbage disposal as a trash chute and throw anything you don’t need into the disposal. This is not a good idea.

In general, garbage disposals are meant for food waste only and their materials are made to shred food that is not too hard.

3. Cut food into small pieces

To extend the life of your garbage disposal appliance, it’s best to cut the food waste into small pieces before putting them into the disposal.

person cutting a pear in modern style kitchen while in workout clothing

This helps the blades to grind the waste efficiently, reducing the strain on the motor. This practice can help improve your disposal’s overall functionality.

4. Use cold water

Always run cold water when using your garbage disposal. While many users think that using hot water may help the garbage disposal function better, hot water can actually cause the grease and fats to liquefy and build up. When this happens, it can lead to blockages and unpleasant odors.

5. Clean the disposal regularly

Regularly clean the disposal to remove any buildup of debris or residue. Pour a cup of ice cubes and a cup of rock salt into the disposal and turn it on for a few seconds. The ice and salt will help remove debris and sharpen the blades. It will also prevent any mold growth.

6. Use vinegar and baking soda

Another way to keep your garbage disposal running smoothly and keeping it clean and odor-free is by pouring a cup of vinegar and half a cup of baking soda down the appliance.

Let the mixture sit for a few minutes before running cold water and turning on the disposal. This helps to clean and deodorize the disposal, preventing rodents and cockroaches from being lured toward it.

7. Don’t overload the disposal

Avoid overloading the disposal with too much waste at once. This can cause the motor to strain, leading to damage and breakdown. Make sure to toss in just enough food waste at a time, allowing the disposal to process the grinding smoothly without too much pressure.

8. Use the disposal regularly

Use the disposal regularly, preferably daily, to prevent rust and corrosion. If the disposal is not used frequently, it can become rusty, making it difficult to turn on and off.

grey bin with "PAPER" written across it

If you are planning to be away from home for an extended period and will not be using your garbage disposal, you can take the following steps to ensure that it remains in good condition:

  • Turn off the power supply to the garbage disposal by turning off the circuit breaker that controls the disposal or by unplugging it from the outlet. This will prevent the appliance from accidentally turning on while you are away and causing damage.
  • Clean the disposal thoroughly to remove any food waste or debris that may be present
  • Cover it with a stopper or a piece of tape to prevent any debris or insects from entering the disposal while you are away. This will help keep the disposal clean and prevent any unpleasant odors from developing.

9. Run the disposal for longer

After grinding food waste, let the disposal run for a few more seconds to ensure that all the debris is cleared out.

10. Keep non-food items out

Before tossing the food waste into the disposal, make sure to keep the non-food items out, including disposal utensils, plastic wrappers, and bottle caps. These items may also damage the blades, cause clogs, and jam up your disposal.

11. Don’t use bleach or chemical drain cleaners

Using bleach or chemical drain cleaners on your garbage disposal can cause damage to the appliance and create safety hazards. Bleach and other drain cleaners are harsh chemicals that can corrode the metal parts of the garbage disposal, including the blades, the impeller, and the motor.

kitchen sink with yellow rubber gloves thrown over the spout

Over time, exposure to bleach can weaken these parts, leading to malfunction and eventual breakdown.

12. Schedule professional maintenance

Schedule regular maintenance with a professional to ensure your garbage disposal is always in good working condition. A professional can inspect the disposal and identify any potential issues before they become major problems.

13. Use citrus to make your garbage disposal smell good

Cut up a citrus fruit like lemons or oranges in half, then grind it at least once a month. Make sure to remove any seeds before grinding. This will leave a fresh clean scent and is a great technique to prevent odor and make your garbage disposal smell good.

How to Fix a Jammed-Up Garbage Disposal?

If your garbage disposal does not function as it should, reset the appliance using the reset button (located on the bottom of the disposal). If it still doesn’t work, power off the garbage disposal and check if there is something blocking inside. You can also try to manually turn the blades with a hex key.

Insert the hex key into the bottom of the disposal and turn it back and forth to loosen any debris that may be blocking the blades. If this doesn’t work, it’s best to contact a professional to address the problem. If you’re a snowbird and aren’t familiar with the best professionals in the area, we can help!

Bottom Line

Taking good care of your garbage disposal doesn’t just ensure that it lasts a long time, but is an efficient form of waste management. It’s quick, efficient, and can reduce food waste. Consistency is key when caring for your amenities, so rest assured that the responsible team at Income Realty Home Watch is following your cleaning routine while you’re gone.

When you return to your home, everything will be well-maintained and ready to use! Contact us today to learn more about our home watch services.

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