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Garbage Disposal Maintenance Tips


With the holidays fast approaching, it’s important to consider your kitchen plumbing – specifically your garbage disposal. Sometimes referred to as the “disposer” or “waste disposal unit,” it is an essential component of your kitchen during this busy of time of year. Holiday parties, family dinners and extended periods at home mean more dirty dishes – and more use of the disposal.

A high percentage of plumbing problems involve the garbage disposal. Many of these problems could be avoided with a bit more care – especially during the months of peak usage. Understanding the appropriate ways to use it and keep it maintained are important in ensuring that it runs at maximum efficiency throughout the holidays.

While most homeowners are aware of the more obvious care instructions, it’s never a bad idea to go over them again. We have complied a list of the most important facts for keeping your disposal in top shape.


Odor – An odor in the disposal is a common problem, especially if you are grinding up particularly aromatic fruit or vegetable waste. You can minimize smells by grinding up lemons in the disposal with warm water. You can also freeze lemon juice and water into cubes, which will clean the blades as well as help get rid of odors.

Cleaning – Keep the blades clean by filling the disposal with ice cubes and a cup of rock salt. You can also use ordinary dish soap by pouring in a little bit after washing dishes. Simply pour about a teaspoon of soap inside the unit and run it with water for about a minute.

Regular Use – Run it regularly as consistent use helps to prevent rust and prevents blockage buildup.

Over Use – While regular use during the holidays shouldn’t be a problem, just make sure the disposal isn’t over used as a trash receptacle for all of your food waste. People have a tendency to use it as a catch-all for all of their meal refuse during the holidays. Sometimes when this happens a blockage can occur. Use the disposal with restraint – and make sure everyone knows what is safe to put in the disposal and what to avoid.

Daily Use

Biodegradable Only – Never put anything that isn’t biodegradable into the disposal. Cigarette butts, paper towels, tissue, shells, rubber bands and gum are common products that have clogged and/or broken units in the past. Your garbage disposal is NOT a trash can.

Cold Water – When grinding food waste, try to use cold water in order to solidify oil and grease (which can clog pipes). Most people don’t prefer to rinse off their dishes (before loading the dishwasher) with cold water, but it’s a good practice. This is especially important when cleaning dishes after large meals that are particularly greasy.

Fibrous Food – Never put anything fibrous into the disposal including onion skins, celery, corn husks or pumpkin (insides). The material can tangle up in the shredder and clog the system. Dispose of any fibrous food waste by wrapping it in newspaper and throwing it in the trash.

Potatoes/Potato Peels – Potatoes and potato peels are not good for the disposal or the plumbing in general. Both will turn to mush and can cause significant blockage. When peeling potatoes over the sink, collect the waste in a newspaper and throw in the trash.

Other Foods – Pasta, rice, beans, bones, coffee grounds and fruit pits.

Procedure – Don’t turn off the motor or the running water until after you have finished grinding. After it is complete, turn off the disposal first and let the water continue to run for a few seconds. This will help get rid of any remaining food elements.

If you ever have trouble with your garbage disposal or plumbing, don’t hesitate to contact the plumbing professionals at Metro. We hope that your disposal and plumbing system stays trouble-free throughout the holidays, but if anything goes wrong we are available 24/7. Call us at 423-616-1025 or 706-516-1980 for any emergency repair day or night!

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