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garbage disposal maintenance

Yes, you do actually have to maintain your garbage disposal.

If you want it to keep grinding away daily, that is. Garbage disposal repair isn't cheap.

So keeping it running smoothly is worth a little drain cleaning effort occasionally. At the very least, just know what not to put in the sink disposal.

Here are 5 garbage disposal maintenance tips to keep this essential appliance grinding away smoothly.

garbage disposal care and maintenance.

  • Don't let food build up in your disposal. Run it every time you put something in it. Food build up may not only cause jams but bad smells, too. Also, acids from foods can cause corrosion.
  • Use cold water when operating the disposal. It turns out that you want the oils and fats in your disposal to congeal so that you can chop them up and flush them out.
  • Keep the water running at least 30 seconds after the grinding stops to make sure all the byproducts are washed away.
  • If the garbage disposal jams, turn it off immediately. Turn off the water and use tongs to dislodge any food or objects that may be stuck in the disposal. Wait a few minutes, and then hit the reset button. Some disposals may automatically reset. If yours doesn't have a reset button, wait about five minutes for the automatic reset, then try it again. 

what not to put in your garbage disposal.

  • Anything that's not food. Especially, metal, plastic, strings, or rubber bands.
  • No large bones. Small bones are OK.
  • Nothing stringy. I don't put in artichokes, banana peels, or cornhusks. I do grind celery and asparagus, but only a little at a time. Meat (especially raw meat) can also get stringy and wrap around the mechanism.
  • No grease or oil.
  • No flour.

tips for deodorizing your garbage disposal.

Everyone has her favorite methods of deodorizing the disposal. Many people simply grind leftover lemons and limes for a fresh citrusy smell. Others grind lemons with ice cubes. Still others freeze white vinegar in ice cubes and grind those up. 

The one thing that I have found that works to deodorize the disposal is to sprinkle in baking soda regularly. Other ways to keep the disposal in good running condition:

Garbage disposal maintenance tips.
  • Put the stopper in the sink so it will hold water. Fill the sink with hot water to the brim.
  • Add one-quarter cup bleach and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
  • Remove the stopper, and turn on the disposal. Allow it to suck the bleach-water until it is nearly drained. Turn off the disposal and allow the last of the water to drain.

I've been using the bleach method for nearly 10 years now, and haven't yet had to replace my disposal - nor has any smell lingered after using the bleach-and-water rinse.

Visit the Clean Organized Home Store for the garbage disposal maintenance supplies and tools you'll need to get started.

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About the Author

Tara Aronson

Tara Aronson is a native Californian. Having grown up in San Diego, she studied journalism and Spanish to pursue a career in newspaper writing. Tara, whose three children - Chris, Lyndsay, and Payne - are the light of her life, now lives and writes in Los Angeles. She also regularly appears on television news programs throughout the U.S.