A garbage disposal can be a great addition to your kitchen. If it isn’t taken care of correctly, though, the blades can dull or rust over time, and the overall effectiveness of the disposal will drop significantly. With proper care and maintenance, you can add years to the effective life of your garbage disposal. Perhaps more importantly, the care that you put into your disposal now will pay off in the long term by helping to prevent costly repairs and the premature replacement of your disposal unit.
Proper Garbage Disposal Use
One of the best things that you can do for your garbage disposal is to learn how to use it properly. This may seem like a no-brainer as most garbage disposals simply require you to put your scraps in and flip a switch; in reality, though, there’s a bit more to it than that. If you’re sending the wrong items down your disposal you can dull the blades, clog it, or even damage your unit, which can lead to costly repairs.
Ideally, you should use your garbage disposal to dispose of softer food items and things like ice that will melt anyway. Avoid disposing of bones, shells, fibrous vegetables such as celery or asparagus, hard seeds or pits, and nuts. You should also watch out for overly starchy food items like potato skins, as well as items that can continue to soak up water or become kind of a gloppy mess like cooked pasta or coffee grounds. Fats and oils should also be avoided, though that’s in part because of what they can do to your plumbing.
One other tip to keep in mind when using your garbage disposal: Run cold water before and after using the disposal to make sure that food is properly moistened and washed away. This not only helps the garbage disposal to work properly, but it will also help prevent food buildup that can lead to bad smells in your kitchen.
Caring for Your Garbage Disposal
In addition to keeping an eye on what goes down your garbage disposal, putting some time into periodic maintenance will go a long way toward avoiding significant problems with your unit. Before doing any work with your garbage disposal that requires you to be anywhere near the blades, make sure that the disposal is unplugged so that it can’t accidentally come on while you’re working on it. This is one of the most important things you can know about working on your disposal!
Some garbage disposal maintenance is pretty simple to do. If you don’t use your disposal very often, make a point of running some water and turning the disposal on every 2-3 days. This ensures that the blades and other components won’t start to rust as a result of sitting there unused in a moist environment for too long, and keeps certain components from drying out. You should also give a whiff to check for unpleasant smells around the sink every few days. If you do start to smell something, either cut up some lemon or orange peels and feed them to the disposal, or mix some ice cubes with rock salt and baking soda and use that. Either solution should take care of your odor problems.
If the disposal isn’t working or seems to be struggling, cut off the power and shine a light down the sink so you can see if anything is tangled around the blades or otherwise obstructing them. Using pliers, a wrench, or specialized tools that might have come with your disposal (and NEVER your hands), untangle or otherwise remove any debris before plugging the unit back in, then see if that took care of the problem.