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Garbage Disposals 101: Tips To Prevent Clogs, Leaks & Breakdowns

Garbage disposal located underneath a sink

Garbage disposals are an invaluable addition to any kitchen, providing a convenient and efficient way to dispose of food waste. These handy devices help reduce the amount of organic matter that ends up in landfills while making cleanup after mealtime more manageable. However, these incredible kitchen fixtures require diligent maintenance in order to keep them clean, prevent clogs, and avoid unexpected breakdowns.

Understanding How Garbage Disposals Work


Garbage disposals are typically installed under kitchen sinks and are designed to grind food waste into small particles, allowing it to pass through the plumbing system easily. When you turn on the disposal, a motor spins a grinding chamber that contains sharp rotating blades. As you feed food scraps into the disposal, the blades shred the waste into tiny pieces, which are then flushed away with water through the plumbing system.

The Importance of Regular Maintenance


Proper maintenance is crucial for ensuring the smooth operation and longevity of your garbage disposal. By following a few simple do's and don’ts, you can prevent clogs, leaks, foul odors, and costly repairs. Here are the garbage disposal maintenance essentials that every family should know:

Maintenance Do's

  • Run cold water: Always run cold water before, during, and after using the garbage disposal. Cold water helps solidify fats and oils, making it easier for the disposal to break them down and prevent clogs. When disposing of large food scraps, run cold water throughout the entire grinding process. This helps keep the motor and blades cool, preventing overheating.
  • Cut large items: To avoid overwhelming the disposal, cut large food items into smaller, more manageable pieces before feeding them into the unit. This helps ensure efficient grinding and reduces the risks of clogging.
  • Flush with water: After using the disposal, continue running water for about 30 seconds to flush out any remaining debris. This helps prevent buildup and keeps the plumbing system clear.

Maintenance Don’ts

  • Avoid hard or non-food items: Do not put hard objects — like bones, shells, or fruit pits — into the disposal. The same goes for any non-food items, such as plastic, metal, or glass. These can damage the blades or motor, leading to unexpected breakdowns.
  • Limit fibrous & starchy foods: Avoid putting fibrous or starchy foods like celery, potato peels, or pasta into the disposal. These can create a thick paste that clogs the drain or wraps around the blades, impeding their movement.
  • Avoid grease & oil: Never pour grease, fat, or cooking oil down the disposal or drain. These substances can solidify, causing blockages and foul odors.
  • Keep chemicals away: Refrain from using chemical drain cleaners in your garbage disposal. These can damage the disposal’s components and harm the environment.

General Tips for Garbage Disposal Maintenance

  • Regular cleaning: Periodically clean your disposal by grinding ice cubes and a small amount of rock salt or vinegar. This helps remove debris and eliminates foul odors.
  • Freshen with citrus: To further combat odors, grind citrus peels (e.g., lemons, oranges, etc.) in the disposal. This leaves a fresh scent in the kitchen sink.
  • Know when to seek professional help: If you encounter persistent issues like leaks, strange noises, or frequent clogs, it’s best to contact a professional plumber to diagnose and resolve the problem.

Keep Your Garbage Disposal Clean & Clear!


Garbage disposals offer a convenient and eco-friendly solution for disposing of food waste in your kitchen. By following the essential maintenance dos and don’ts outlined above, you can keep your disposal running smoothly, prevent clogs and leaks, and extend your system’s life span. Remember that if you’re experiencing persistent issues despite adhering to proper maintenance guidelines, it’s important to trust a knowledgeable plumber to set the problem right.

If you’re seeking expert assistance for garbage disposal repairs, turn to Campbell & Company. Call 509-545-9848 to request garbage disposal repair in Yakima today!

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