Garbage Disposal Tips from the Pros

Serving Brooklyn Since 1906

A convenient way to rid your home of excess foods without filling your trash and enticing unwanted pests into your home or apartment, a garbage disposal can be an effective appliance in your kitchen. But anyone who’s used one can tell you that if you don’t use your garbage disposal correctly or keep these little machines well maintained, they can easily leave your kitchen with a rancid odor to fight off.

Did you know that garbage disposals were actually banned in the city until 1997 due to old pipes and plumbing systems? Even though disposals have become more common in NYC today, they can still be hard to come by in certain buildings. If you do rent a place with a garbage disposal, make sure you know how to care for it from the start.

Here are our tips for using a garbage disposal correctly as well as some dos and don’ts so you can keep your kitchen sink grinder in tiptop shape. Or call the plumbing experts at Petri Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Drain Cleaning when you need help with your garbage disposal in Brooklyn!

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Garbage Disposal DOs:

Let’s start with all the things you should do with your garbage disposal.

  • Run a constant stream of cold water when using the disposal. Rinse thoroughly once you are done using it.
  • Clean the disposal often. For weekly cleaning, simply dump some ice in the disposal and let it run until clear. You should also use a disposal cleaner often. These cleaners will not only disinfect the disposal, it will rid the disposal of any odd smells.
  • Use a degreaser. Many foods have natural greases and they leech out when ground. A spoonful of a disposal degreaser will clean out the gunk and keep your appliance chopping happily.
  • Use citrus as a cleanser. Grinding up lemon or orange peels not only hinders bacterial growth, they also make the kitchen smell fresh.

Garbage Disposal DON’Ts:

Perhaps more importantly than what you should do with your garbage disposal is what you shouldn’t do:

  • Don’t place large amounts of food in the disposal at once. Chop up food into smaller pieces before disposing of it, as well. This keeps the disposal from stopping up and it keeps debris from clogging your pipes.
  • Avoid overly greasy foods. Pasta, potatoes and celery have a lot of natural oils that can build up and clog your drain. It’s best to just toss these leftovers in the trash or dispose of them in a compost pile.
  • Don’t run very hot water during the grinding stage. Hot water causes fats to melt. These fats then stick to the disposal blades once they cool. You can run hot water into it after it is off to clean up.
  • Do not grind anything but food. Your disposal was not made to grind paper towels, rags or inedible items.

How to Fix Your Garbage Disposal

If you’re already dealing with a clogged or damaged garbage disposal, there are some steps you can take to troubleshoot it.

1. Unclog the Garbage Disposal

From grease to chicken bones, if there’s a foul smell emanating from your garbage disposal, a clog is likely the culprit. Often, these clogs can be further down the pipes, but you might get lucky and can reach the odorous obtrusion. Check out one of our previous posts to learn how to prevent clogs and garbage disposal repairs in the first place!

Unplug the machine and use a flashlight to identify any obvious obstructions. Then, use a pair of tongs, pliers or even chopsticks to remove the offending object. If you are unable to locate the clog, you might be dealing with a deeper issue or a simple need to clean and disinfect.

2. Clean Your Garbage Disposal with Ice and Salt

Before you start tossing the contents of your ice maker down the disposal with a batch of salt, warm the machine up for its cold massage first. Fill the sink with a few inches of warm water and suds it up with some detergent. Then, unplug the drain and turn the disposal on for a frothy flush.

Next, grab a tray of ice and a half cup of coarse salt and send them down the disposal. The friction from this helps break up decaying particles of last week’s dinner that are still clinging to the machine. Let the disposal run until all the ice is processed and then run a long stream of water down the drain for a proper rinse.

3. Disinfect and Deodorize Your Garbage Disposal

Even after food particles are gone, a stubborn smell may persist and though there are many chemicals you can buy, you likely have a few ingredients on hand for a cheap and effective cleanse.

Try pouring a couple of cups of baking soda down the disposal followed by a modest portion of white vinegar, about half a cup. Let this mixture sit for around an hour and then run the disposal alongside the water for a minute or so. Once the disposal is clean and clear, drop a couple of orange or lemon peels in for a nice citrus finish.

Protect Your Garbage Disposal with Proactive Care

Beyond troubleshooting your garbage disposal, you need to take proactive care to protect it before a small problem spirals into a broken unit.

Don’t Turn Off Your Water Too Early

The optimal way to run the disposal is to turn the water on first, then run the disposal, turn off the disposal and then turn off the water last. If you turn off the water too early, you could end up with clogs or debris still in your disposal.

Never Turn On the Garbage Disposal When Utensils Are Inside

Of course no one turns on their garbage disposal when utensils are in it on purpose. But the idea is it o make sure nothing is in side it before you turn it on.

Cut Larger Items Into Smaller Pieces

Even if your disposal is powerful, it’s wise to avoid putting large scraps of food down the drain. Try cutting or shredding down larger pieces and put them in slowly to prevent any unnecessary damage.

Avoid Throwing Grease and Oils Into Your Garbage Disposal

First up, don’t dump grease and oil into your sink or garbage disposal. Grease hardens and can clog the disposal drain. When you’re cleaning greasy pots and pans, use very hot water and a good dishwashing detergent to break up the grease. In the worst-case scenario, though, give the experts at Petri Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Drain Cleaning a call. We can clean your drains and tackle any emergency repairs.

Practice Moderation

To avoid the problem of a clogged disposal before it starts, don’t cram the disposal full of food when running it. Avoid running items through it that aren’t disposal-friendly including coffee grounds, corn husks, banana peels and eggshells.

Keep Fibrous Materials Like Corn Husks Out of Your Disposal

Remember, your garbage disposal is not a trash compactor. Fibrous plants like corn husks, artichoke leaves, celery sticks and even banana peels and onion peels can wreak havoc with the motor.

Avoid Putting Any of These Things in Your Disposal

You would be surprised by the things we’ve seen go into a garbage disposal, whether by accident or intentionally. Never throw out jewelry, cigarettes, fruit pits, large seeds, whole fruit, hard flower stems, nut shells, sea shells, seafood shells, coffee ground filters. In other words, don’t put anything in the disposal that you would not put in a blender!

Call Petri Plumbing for Your Brooklyn Garbage Disposal Repair and More

Garbage disposals are convenient methods of ridding your home of food debris, but if not properly cared for, they can deposit large food items in your sink’s pipes. Grease, hair and other items can get caught on this food and clog your sink up completely, creating an even bigger problem.

Petri Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Drain Cleaning is happy to help you install a new garbage disposal or repair your older one. Just reach out to our Brooklyn garbage disposal pros today!

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