Tips to Care for Your Garbage Disposal

Person working under the sink on a garbage disposal.

The garbage disposal is an unsung hero of the kitchen. It can be easy to overlook this appliance. However, spend a day or two in a kitchen without a garbage disposal, constantly dumping the drain catcher of all those food bits, and suddenly you will find a new sense of appreciation for this plumbing mechanism.

So how does the garbage disposal work? And how can you care for it to ensure it keeps working at its best?

How Does it Work?

You scrape your plate into the sink, and as you are working your way through the dishes, you notice the sink is starting to fill rather than drain, so you flip a switch and after a few loud gargles the water is draining with ease, but how?

The garbage disposal is usually installed under the kitchen sink between the trap and the drainpipe. It is connected to an electrical outlet often located under the sink. When you turn it on, a motor at the base of the unit starts spinning metal impellers or blades. These blades chop up anything that goes down the drain and washes it away.

Batch Fed and Continuous Disposal

There are two types of garbage disposals, batch feed and continuous feed. Batch feed models require you to put a cover over the drain before turning on the disposal. This is for safety so no one accidentally reaches in while the blades are spinning.

With continuous feed disposals, there is no need for a cover. You can simply turn it on and start scraping away.

Garbage Disposal No Nos

Just because this fierce kitchen grinder can break down most things, does not mean it should. In fact, if you want your disposal to last it is very important to be mindful of what you are allowing down the drain.


First and foremost, do not pour grease down the drain. It will harden as it cools and cling to the blades impeding their ability to spin and do their job. These hardened oils can also cling to your pipes and cause clogs.

After frying up that bacon or heating up a pot of oil to fry up some chicken, keep remaining oils far away from the kitchen sink. To dispose of them you can dump them into your compost or yard. You can also allow grease and oil to harden or soak it up with paper towels and toss it in the trash.


Large bones can damage the blades. Bones are ready to put up a fight against the disposal and can dull or even break the blades. Not to mention, if a bone chips, it can fly out of the disposal and cause harm to whoever is on dish duty.

Fruit/Vegetable Peelings

Peels, along with any fruits and vegetables that have a stringy consistency, are a threat to your garbage disposal. These food particles can wrap around the blades and cause jams. Some examples of fruits and veggies with a string-like texture include celery, asparagus, rhubarb, and onion skins.


Another common kitchen item that should not go down the disposal is eggshells. You might think they would be no match for the blades, but in actuality they can cause big problems. Eggshells have a thin membrane that can wrap around the impellers and prevent them from spinning.

Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds are also not ideal for your garbage disposal. They may seem small and insignificant but they can actually clog your pipes. Over time the coffee grounds will collect and form a sludge that will cause a clog.

Caring for Your Disposal

It is important to properly care for your garbage disposal to prevent any issues from arising and keep it working at its best.


You should clean your garbage disposal regularly to prevent any bad odors. This can be done simply by running it with hot water and dish soap. You can also use a mixture of baking soda and vinegar or bleach to clean it. Be sure to run the disposal with hot water afterwards to remove any residue.


You can help keep your garbage disposal working properly by taking some preventative measures. Aside from keeping the above foods out of your disposal, you should also run cold water for 20-30 seconds before and after using the disposal to help flush things through.

Another housekeeping tip is to grind up some ice cubes in the garbage disposal to help sharpen the blades.


How often you need to replace your garbage disposal depends on how often you use it and how well you take care of it. With proper care, most disposals should last about 12 years. If yours starts making strange noises or smells bad, it may be time to contact All Drain & Sewer Cleaning for care.

Call All Drain & Sewer Cleaning

No matter what your plumbing needs are, our team is available to help ensure everything is running smoothly in your home. Call (937) 777-3409 today.