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The Home Depot

How to Prevent a Clogged Garbage Disposal

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Plumbing > How to Prevent a Clogged Garbage Disposal
How to Prevent a Clogged Garbage Disposal

We all pretty much know how a garbage disposal does its job. There are blades inside the unit that rip-apart small organic materials into even tinier matter. When you turn on the faucet and the disposal, the food begins to travel. It rolls through the sink trap, down to parts unknown. Sounds simple, but there is the occasional epic fail.

  1. 1.Grease

    By avoiding certain scraps and day-to-day maintenance, you and your garbage disposal will get along just fine.

    The biggest villains of pipes and drains are oil and grease. Water and oils break-up when mixed with detergent, but you’re not always using soap when you turn on the faucet. An example of how grease clogs pipes are found on the pots, pans and dishes that sit in your sink, waiting to be cleaned. You still use the tub while the plates rest. Every time you turn on the water, though, a little bit of that grease flows-off the unwashed stuff in the sink.


    As the offending oil reaches the pipes, it thickens once it cools. To prevent this type of build-up, rinse-off the kitchen tools, dishes and pans with hot soapy water as you first place them in the sink. Let the hot water run for a few seconds after you finish.

  2. 2.Food

    As long as small bits of food are all that find its way down the garbage disposal, things should be fine. Large chunks, however, are not fine. Sure, the blades will shred the matter, but not nearly enough to make it digestible to the pipes. For instance, the peels from two potatoes will manage to break-down. Two peeled potatoes will not. Food wastes to avoid are stuff like coffee grounds, corn husks, banana peels and egg shells. Another warning: never pack the disposal with too much material. Using the potato peels as an example, the rinds of 10 potatoes is too much at a time.


    Also, if your kids get tasked with doing the dishes, make sure they are careful not to overload the disposal as they rinse the grime from the plates.

  3. 3.Clogged Pipes

    Occasionally, it’s not the disposal. It could be the pipes at the other end of the sink trap, way down-the-line. Try to break the clog by using a plunger. Harsh chemicals are not recommended. They could hurt the pipes in your sink and cause them to corrode. Strong chemicals could likewise cause the disposal’s blades to become dull.


    If all fails, maybe it’s time to call in a professional.

  4. 4.Water-Absorbent Foods

    When you make rice or pasta, you have to boil it. You know that the hot water is absorbed into the food, puffing it up. Products like this, after you’re finished eating, will continue to expand and become sticky if they’re flushed into your drain.

  5. 5.Maintenance

    Performing daily maintenance will make sure that you start fresh whenever you use your garbage disposal. Here are the things you’ll need to do the job:


      • Small scrub brush

      • Dish detergent

      • Hot water


    Plug and fill your sink with hot water. Don’t make it so hot that you can’t reach in and pull out the stopper. Put in a little bit of detergent, enough to create suds. Take out the plug and crank-up the disposal. This should shake-off most of the debris left in the unit. Turn-off the disposal, take out the small brush (the kind that has around an 8-inch long handle) and begin scrubbing the inside of the garbage disposal. After you’re finished with the brush, put it aside. An eco-friendly way to freshen things in the kitchen is to add some lemon peels after the scrub. They won’t clog things-up and they’ll give the whole area a nice aroma. Turn on the cold water. Turn on the disposal. Let it run for a minute. By avoiding certain scraps and day-to-day maintenance, you and your garbage disposal will get along just fine.

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