7 Mistakes To Avoid When Operating Your Garbage Disposal


Garbage disposals are indispensible tools that grind food wastes into fine particles. Equipping your kitchen with a garbage disposal unit can have a world of benefits. The best garbage disposals have an average lifetime of 20 years but, like every kitchen appliance they can become smelly, clogged, dirty and stops working all of a sudden, this can be due to any number of reasons but in most cases the 7 reasons below are behind this;

1. Not cleaning the disposal correctly

Garbage disposals handle a large volume of food wastes over the years. Still, there are many who forget to clean them regularly which lead to severe malfunction that could have been easily avoided. A good practice is to follow a three step cleaning process:

  • Add baking soda to a cup of white vinegar and use this to freshen the system
  • Grind ice cubes in order to remove food particles trapped within the disposer. Do ensure that you have a stopper in place so as to avoid flying shreds of ice.
  • Throw in a few slices of oranges or lemon. This keeps the grinding area clean, while natural acidity regulators found in them suppress growth of bacteria and the odors associated with them.

You can buy a professional grade de-greaser from any reputable manufacturer to remove accumulated oils and grease in the pipes. Never make use of harsh chemicals or bleach as this can affect the quality and functionality of the system in a short span of time.

2. Using a wrong operating sequence

While operating a disposer is a simple task, if you do not follow the right procedure the machine will never be able to perform its best. The first step is running cold water continuously to help the wastes reach the grinding chamber and then switching on the disposal. After this, gradually put the scarps in small volumes rather than stuffing the whole thing down together. Keep the water flowing continuously, and once the grinding is done run the unit for another 30 seconds before switching it OFF to make sure everything is flushed down the drain.

3. Running hot water while grinding

It is important to use only cold water for the grinding process, not hot water. People often think that hot water, due to its high temperature, is an ideal option to breakdown the food particles, but this can do more damage than good. Hot water will melt the fat and oil contained in the food wastes and get them stick on the walls of the grinding chamber as well as the drainage pipes which later on cooling solidify. This will lead to clogs and damages in the disposer.

When you run cold water then the fatty and greasy wastes remain solid, while the blades of the disposer chop them down into finer pieces flushing them out of the drain. Remember: it is acceptable to use hot water after you have used the unit but never before that.

4. Pouring fats or grease into the disposal


Grease such as oils, animal fats or wax solidify in drain pipes and causes messy problem for the sewer and plumbing facilities. Further, they affect the blades of the disposer and with time you will realize that the grinding power of the unit has reduced significantly, as a result of which you have to operate it for a long duration compared to before.

Rather than finding yourself in such complications, just avoid pouring fats or grease into the disposer and simply get rid of them by throwing them in the trash can.

5. Shoving in non-food wastes

The garbage disposal system of your home is designed only to dispose food items and nothing beyond that. Despite that, people tend to throw down whatever they can get their hands on. A short list of such items you need to avoid are:

  • Wooden matches
  • Paper towels
  • Rubber bands
  • Cigarettes
  • Coffee grounds

The point is: non-food wastes never really get disposed by the unit and this means increased chances of clogging, wear and tear and other damages. Simply avoid putting such things into the disposal.

6. Calling for service too soon

Whenever there is any trouble with the disposer, the first thing that comes to mind is to get help from a technician. While calling in a technician doesn’t damage the disposal any further (unless in rare cases J ) it is totally unnecessary in most cases. Stay away from the urge of contacting a professional until you have tried two crucial remedies and they are:

  • Turn off the unit and then press the reset switch. This is usually present at the end of the disposer and acts as a form of circuit breaker. In most cases, it allows the unit to reestablish its power.
  • Get an allen key and then insert it into the hole at the bottom of the disposal chamber. It is directly coupled with the rotor of the disposal. Rotate it to check whether you are able to remove the jamming or not.

If the disposal system does not operate even after performing the two steps then you should consider seeking help from a qualified professional.

7. Keeping food wastes in the disposal for a long time

In the case of a batch feed type garbage disposal where the food wastes are ground in batches people tend to keep all the wastes there for a long time until it gets filled. This is convenient but this can end-up in potential hazards as the food begins to rot. This will cause bacterial infestation, bad odor and attract insects as well.

Therefore, instead of preserving the wastes in the disposal chamber grind them off at once so that they are completely removed from the unit and you can perform other essential tasks with a peace of mind.

Next time you operate your disposal keep in mind the above 7 points and act accordingly, that will give your disposer more lifetime and less troubles.