It’s 8:00PM, I just finished my famous bone-in rib eye steak & mashed potato dinner (feeling pretty proud of myself). I’ve scraped the food remnants into the disposal and am getting ready to run the dishwasher. Things are going along smoothly until I hit the garbage disposal switch. I immediately hear that terrible grinding noise; I panic and race back towards the disposal off switch. But I’m too late. The disposal has had enough and shut itself down. No worries, I can call maintenance and have them fix it the next day. At least I can still run the dishes so I start the dishwasher and go to bed. Bad idea, next morning I’m welcomed to a small lake in my kitchen. The dishwasher drains through the disposal; if it’s clogged dishwasher has nowhere to drain but your floor.
This is an all too common scenario. In fact, for our company, a garbage disposal issue is the most frequently reported maintenance request we receive. Sorry to say, 99% of the time it is user error (FYI, your garbage disposal will not survive a pile of rocks from your aquarium).
There are many articles, videos and guides out there about using and fixing a garbage disposal. Pay no attention to those. There is basically only one thing you need to know and you’ll almost never have an issue with your disposal.
When using a disposal, follow this simple procedure. Turn your COLD water on, then turn your disposal on, then add very small bits of food at a time. That’s it. You do that and you’ll never clog or jam it. Use it any differently than that and you’ll eventually run into a problem.
Besides how to properly use a disposal, we often get asked what is OK and what is not OK to be put down a garbage disposal.
Don’t put these in your disposal
- Rocks, metal, plastic, string, glass, wood, bones
- Grease, oil, fats
- Skins & Peels – like potato, carrot, onion, banana, orange
- Starchy foods – pasta and rice are most notorious – they expand if left in disposal and will clog it
- Stringy foods – like corn husks & celery stalks
- Egg shells
- Coffee grounds – smells good but clogs drains
- Drain-0 – does more harm then good
- A poorly cooked meal – garbage disposals cannot handle large quantities all at once
Do put this in your disposal
- small bits of food (the size you’d give a toddler to eat) not listed on the ban list above.
If you have got to the point where the disposal is clogged, making terrible grinding noise, or not working at all, it might be time to call your landlord.
If you have any garbage disposal related tips or stories, please comment.