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10 Useful Tips for Garbage Disposal Maintenance

Head and shoulders photograph of Lucy Adegbe
Woman by sink using a tablet
A garbage disposal is an essential kitchen appliance that should be properly maintained to avoid expensive repairs. You can acquire a home warranty package to cover repairs and replacements, but taking care of your appliances to avoid serious damage is still important.

A garbage disposal is a device that is fitted to the waste pipes of a kitchen sink to dispose of food scraps. It is one of the most convenient kitchen appliances, and most households use it daily. Therefore, effective maintenance is crucial to prevent your garbage disposal from breaking.

Although repair or replacement of parts of your garbage disposal may be covered by a home warranty, maintenance and practicing good habits will enhance the longevity of your garbage disposal.

If you haven’t been taking care of your garbage disposal, it’s not too late. These 10 garbage maintenance tips will help you effectively manage this appliance, helping to prevent potential problems.

1. Turn Off Your Disposal During Maintenance

Garbage disposals have the potential to cause injury when used incorrectly. Doing maintenance on a garbage disposal that isn't turned off can result in electrocution, broken bones, or deep tissue lacerations. Therefore, it’s important to turn it off and take every caution when you clean it.

2. Don’t Force Large Objects Down Your Garbage Disposal

Forcing large food scraps or anything that could cause damage down your garbage disposal is a huge no-no. Instead, break large food chunks into smaller bits and grind them separately. Additionally, try not to put potato peels, bones, eggshells, or coffee grounds into your garbage disposal.

This prevents any blocked pipes and damage to your garbage disposal that could lead to further complications and otherwise avoidable expenses.

3. Only Use Your Garbage Disposal for Food Scraps

Your garbage disposal is only meant for food scraps, and nothing else should pass through it.

Grease, glass, ceramic, fat, plastic, and metal should never be thrown into a garbage disposal. These items could clog your drain and damage the blades of your garbage disposal. You might have to spend quite a bit of money to fix such issues, especially if you don’t have a homeowner warranty cover.

4. Run Your Garbage Disposal Using Cold Water

Using cold water with your garbage disposal is crucial. It will help force food scraps down the drain and prevent grease or oils from solidifying and obstructing the blades. It also helps prevent drain wear and tear, especially those made of plastics that are sensitive to hot substances.

Some manuals suggest pouring cold water down the drain for at least 20 seconds after food has passed through the garbage disposal.

5. Clean Your Disposal Bi-Weekly

Keeping your garbage disposal clean is one of the best ways to maintain it. Depending on how frequently you use your appliance, cleaning it bi-weekly is advisable. This way, you extend the life of your garbage disposal and keep your kitchen hygienically clean.

Filling your disposal with ice cubes and a cup of rock salt helps to remove debris and other food particles stuck to your appliance. To disinfect it, turn off your disposal and pour in a cup of vinegar and half a cup of baking soda, then use an old toothbrush to clean the blades. This will kill bacteria and other microorganisms.

6. Keep Your Garbage Disposal Odor-Free

Sometimes, your garbage disposal may emit an unpleasant odor. To eliminate these odors, use warm water and citrus cut into chunks. Add the citrus chunks one by one with warm water.

Some may prefer to use coffee grounds, but this isn't recommended as it could clog your pipes. As an additional means of caution, don’t use hot water to prevent grease or oil from passing through the drain.

7. Be Careful With How Much You Add to Your Disposal

Although it may be tempting, it's not a good idea to add too much food waste to your garbage disposal at a time. It’s important to pay attention to the amount and size of food scraps you're putting into it. Even after breaking large chunks into smaller bits, don't add everything in at the same time.

This will keep the blades from becoming dull or jammed and save your pipes from unwanted blockages.

8. Avoid Harmful Chemicals

Besides starchy vegetables, grease, or foreign objects, other substances can cause damage to your disposal. You should also avoid harsh chemicals that damage plumbing fixtures. These chemicals are often used to unclog a drain, but they can cause permanent damage to your disposal and pipes.

In place of such chemicals, garbage disposal drains can be snaked to remove debris.

9. Run Your Disposal At Least Once a Day

Switching on your garbage disposal once a day is one of the best ways of keeping it in perfect working condition. Even if you don’t plan to use it, put on the appliance and run cold water through it. This will prevent the blades from rusting and other damages caused by lack of use.

10. Call a Technician the Moment You Notice an Issue

Pay attention to your garbage disposal so that you're aware of any problems as soon as it occurs. Whenever you notice an electrical fault, hire an electrician to inspect it. If the issue is with your sink or drain, a plumber can help you fix it.

A damaged garbage disposal can come out of nowhere, which could result in unexpected fees. This is one of many reasons to get a home warranty that covers plumbing and electrical issues.

Final Thoughts

According to the EPA, the average American produces an average of 4.9 pounds of garbage per day. Many houses have a garbage disposal installed to manage this waste effectively. It is a vital kitchen appliance that costs around $600 on average. The sensible thing to do is take proper care of it to prevent unnecessary expenses.

It would be a good idea to get a home warranty in case any of your appliances become damaged or break down. The best home warranty companies, such as Choice Home Warranty and First American Home Warranty, would be able to sort this out quickly and efficiently.

Head and shoulders photograph of Lucy Adegbe
Lucy Adegbe contributes to Top10.com as a distinguished financial writer specializing in personal finance, e-commerce, FinTech, and cryptocurrency. She began her career as crypto trader and advisor at Guru Capital LTD, and has since worked for several blockchain-focused companies. In addition to writing for Top10.com, Lucy has also worked with publications such as The Balance, CRD Network, and DeFi Planet.