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How to Maintain Your Garbage Disposal

A garbage disposal can be an indispensable addition to your kitchen appliances. It’s a great way to keep the smell of garbage out of your garbage cans. When your garbage disposal is running properly, it keeps your kitchen smelling fresh and clean and makes cleaning up a breeze.

This device is installed underneath a sink. Its sole purpose is to shred food waste so that it can pass through the plumbing. This method helps to reduce the amount of garbage in landfills. However, a garbage disposal requires care for maximum efficiency. Failure to properly maintain your garbage disposal will result in decaying food remaining in the appliance. These decaying food particles can make your kitchen or whole house stink.

Maintaining your garbage disposal is relatively easy by following a few simple rules and tips:

Avoid Hard Foods

  • If you put foods like hard seeds, popcorn kernels, peach stones, apple seeds, bones or hard shells from shrimp, crabs and other shellfish, the shredder will become dull and become less efficient. Small, hard objects can also get stuck and jam the rotating parts. If something is harder than what you think the disposal can handle, just put it in your trash.
  • Each garbage disposal has its own capacity for hard objects, with the more expensive models having a higher hardness capacity. The instruction manual usually specifies a list of objects to avoid.

Avoid Fibrous Foods

  • You should avoid putting any type of fibrous or starchy foods in the garbage disposal because the fibres tend to wrap themselves around the blades, causing them to jam.
  • Items like banana peels, celery, potato peelings, corn husk, corn cobs, artichokes and onion skins should be avoided. These and other types of fibrous foods wrap around the shredder ring and cause the rotating parts to lock. Coffee grounds in quantity and coffee filters also have the same detrimental effect on the device, so avoid putting them down the unit.

Avoid Trash or Hard Items

It should probably go without saying that putting trash or hard items down the disposal is a recipe for disaster, so common sense will go a long way, but here are some examples of items to avoid:

  • Twist ties, pull tabs, rubber bands
  • Glass, screws, nails
  • Utensils
  • Cigarette butts or bottle caps, paper, plastic, or other trash
  • Fabric, string, rags, or sponges
  • Plant or flower clippings

Use Cold Water

Whenever you use your garbage disposal, be sure to run plenty of cold water while the food is chopped up. While hot water won’t damage the parts, it’s much better to use cold water because it will not liquefy any greases and fats that might adhere to the blades and build upon them. In addition, cold water keeps the motor, bearings, and shredder assembly from overheating and allows the waste to go down easier. You can also cut larger pieces into smaller sizes before being chopped up in addition to running the cold water for better operation.

Run the disposer and water for 30 to 60 seconds once the waste matter has cleared your drain since it still has a distance to go through the plumbing.

Clean it Regularly

With the disposal off, throw some ice down before operating or clean the inner side of the rubber in the centre of the sink leading to the disposal with a paper towel since it gets dirty, giving off an odour when not cleaned.  You can also make ice cubes from pure lemon juice for a fresh scent after each operation. Alternatively, dispose of orange peels or any citrus rinds to freshen up the disposal and keep it smelling clean. Cut them into slices beforehand and rinse with water after so the acids to not ruin the metal blades.


Your garbage disposal is an invaluable appliance to make your life easier by reducing kitchen waste, but like with any kitchen appliance, it requires maintenance care to perform to its optimal capabilities. Always refer to your owner’s manual for detailed instructions.