7 Tips for Garbage Disposal Maintenance

A garbage disposal is one of the most used appliances in the kitchen. It makes disposing of food waste incredibly convenient by grinding it up and sending it down the drain. However, like any appliance, garbage disposals require regular maintenance and care to keep them running smoothly. Ignoring maintenance can lead to clogs, leaks, foul odors, and even complete failure.

Follow these 7 tips to properly maintain your garbage disposal and keep it operating at peak performance. Proper garbage disposal maintenance will extend its lifespan, reduce maintenance costs, and create a more sanitary and functional kitchen.

Regularly Run Your Disposal

Run your garbage disposal on a regular basis, even if you don’t have anything to grind. Letting water flush through removes stuck-on debris and keeps the internal components lubricated. Run cold water and turn on the disposal for 30-60 seconds at least once a week.

Running it regularly prevents waste from sticking to the internal components. It also pushes small particulates through that could build up over time. If you only run it when grinding food waste, grease and grime builds up and leads to fouling and clogs.

Get in the habit of running your 7 Tips for Garbage Disposal Maintenance briefly each time you use your kitchen sink, whether you put anything down it or not. This regular flushing keeps it primed and ready to work whenever you need it.

Feed Your Disposal a Proper Diet

What you put down your 7 Tips for Garbage Disposal Maintenance dramatically impacts its functionality and lifespan. Feed it a proper diet to keep it in good working order.

Good Disposal Foods

  • Fruits and veggies – Especially harder items like melon rinds, corn cobs, and avocado seeds and skins. They have high water content.
  • Eggshells – Excellent abrasive action to scour the grinding components.
  • Coffee grounds – Act as an abrasive scrubber.
  • Boneless meat scraps – Grinds easily.

Avoid These Items

  • Grease/oil – Causes buildup and fouling in the drain lines.
  • Starchy foods – Tend to clump and don’t grind well.
  • Stringy foods – Can tangle and wrap around the blades.
  • Egg or seashells – Too hard and can chip blades.
  • Large bones – Can damage blades and jam unit.

Using your disposal properly starts with putting appropriate waste items down it. Unsuitable foods lead to jams and clogs that necessitate repairs.

Flush with Cold Water

Always run cold water when operating your garbage disposal and for a minute after turning it off. Cold water hardens fats and greases to pass through piping more easily. Hot water melts fats, causing buildup.

The continuous flow of cold water also pushes debris completely through the system to prevent buildup. Keep water flowing the entire time your disposal is on.

Run water for a full minute after turning off the disposal as well. This ensures all waste made it through and clears the pipes. No leftover debris means no clogs down the line.

Use Disposal Cleaners

Regularly use a specially formulated garbage disposal cleaner to freshen it up. These cleaners break down grease and grime buildup while neutralizing odors.

Look for cleaners containing active enzymes and bacteria specifically meant to digest organic waste. They dissolve sludge and food buildup that water flushing misses. Most cleaners are safe for septic tanks as well.

Pour a cleaner down the disposal following the product directions once a month. Let it sit for the recommended time to break down deposits before running the disposal. Repeat as needed for seriously dirty disposals.

Freshen with Baking Soda and Vinegar

For a simple and inexpensive disposal refresh, pour 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain followed by 1 cup vinegar. Let the mixture foam and bubble for 5-10 minutes to break up grease and residue. Finish by running cold water for a full minute.

The baking soda scrubs away deposits while reacting with the vinegar to dissolve buildup. The fizzy reaction penetrates hard to reach areas under the blades and grind ring. Just be sure to use baking soda then vinegar in that order.

Repeat this maintenance monthly or whenever your disposal starts smelling less than fresh. It’s a quick way to extend the time between deeper cleanings.

Clean with a Disposal Wrench

A specially designed disposal cleaning wrench allows you to manually remove built-up debris from inside the unit. This gives you access to clear jams and clean areas that are hard to reach.

Insert the wrench into the bottom of the disposal and turn back and forth to dislodge anything stuck. Use a flashlight to see inside the disposal while cleaning it out.

Finish up by running your disposal with cold water to flush away loosened debris. Perform this manual cleaning every few months or whenever your disposal seems clogged or runs slow.

Inspect and Tighten External Components

Take a few minutes whenever you run your disposal to check the external components. A visual inspection can reveal leaks, corrosion, and other maintenance issues before they become major problems.

Check where the disposal mounts to the sink bottom – leaks indicate the seal needs replacing. Inspect the drain line where it connects to trap and pipe. Drain leaks allow dangerous sewer gases to enter your home.

Also confirm the disposal is mounted securely. Vibration can cause it to loosen over time. Use a wrench to tighten the mounting ring and keep the unit stable.

Don’t forget to check the power cord as well. Fraying or cracks put you at risk of an electrical short. Replace damaged power cords immediately.

Have Regular Drain Line Maintenance

No matter how well you maintain your disposal, debris buildup happens in the kitchen drain lines. Grease coats pipes while food waste accumulates over time.

Hire a professional plumber to snake your drains every year or two to clear any obstructions. They can thoroughly clean the pipes and traps using specialized augers you don’t have access to at home.

Regular professional drain cleaning reduces the risk of plumbing backups and overflows. Catching issues early prevents costly pipe repairs down the road.

Proper garbage disposal maintenance keeps the unit running smoothly long-term while preventing messy and inconvenient clogs and leaks. Follow these 7 tips and you’ll keep your kitchen’s hardworking disposal in top shape.

Frequently Asked Questions About 7 Tips for Garbage Disposal Maintenance

Garbage disposals are invaluable kitchen appliances that make disposing of food waste incredibly easy. However, like all appliances, they require regular maintenance to keep them working properly. Here are some common questions about maintaining your garbage disposal:

What should I not put down the garbage disposal?

Avoid putting grease, oil, bones, egg shells, starchy foods, rice and pasta, stringy foods like celery, large seeds or pits down the disposal. These can damage blades, clog drains, or build up.

How often should you run the garbage disposal?

Run your garbage disposal at least once a week even if you don’t grind anything. Letting water flush through regularly keeps it clean and lubricated inside.

Does running hot water through the disposal help?

No, always use cold water when running the garbage disposal, even after turning it off. Cold water hardens fats and oils so they pass through pipes easier. Hot water causes grease to build up.

Why does my garbage disposal stink?

Foul garbage disposal odors are usually from built-up food debris inside the unit. Use a specially formulated disposal cleaner or alternate vinegar and baking soda to break down deposits and eliminate odors.

What is the best way to unclog a garbage disposal?

A specially designed disposal cleaning wrench allows you to manually remove debris inside the unit. Insert the wrench and turn back and forth to clear jams. Finish by running cold water to flush loosened debris.

Do garbage disposals need to be replaced?

With proper maintenance like regular flushing and cleaning, a garbage disposal can last 10-15 years. If it still doesn’t operate properly after troubleshooting clogs, the motor may need replacement.

How do you cleaning disposal blades?

Turn off power and shine a flashlight inside the disposal while rotating the motor to view the blades. Use a screwdriver to loosen debris and the disposal cleaning wrench to lift out deposits. Avoid touching the blades with your hands.


Regular garbage disposal maintenance like flushing with cold water, avoiding certain items, and using cleaners prevents most clogs and odors. Additionally, inspect external components, tighten mounts, and get professional drain cleaning. Follow these 7 tips and your disposal will keep your kitchen running smoothly for years to come.