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Garbage disposals are a very convenient item in the kitchen, and if used and maintained properly they will last for quite a while. However, using a garbage disposal improperly or not maintaining it correctly can lead to a variety of issues, from a broken garbage disposal to more costly issues like plumbing clogs. Although garbage disposals are typically easy to maintain, there are still some dos and don’ts that everyone should follow, and certain items that should and shouldn’t be thrown into your garbage disposal:

Garbage disposal Dos:

  • Keep it clean! After washing dishes, pour a little dish soap inside the disposal and let it run for a minute with cold water
  • Cut large items into smaller pieces before placing them into the disposal.
  • Put small amounts of food in here and there instead of large amounts at once
  • Run your disposal regularly
  • Grind all food and waste with a strong flow of cold water. Why? It will causes greases or oils to solidify so they can be chopped before reaching the blades

Garbage Disposal Don’ts:

  • FIRST AND FOREMOST: Do not put anything in the disposal that is not biodegradable food. Not even paper
  • Don’t turn off the motor or the water until the grinding is complete, and then turn off the disposal FIRST. Keep water running for 15 seconds
  • Don’t pour grease, oil or fat into the disposal or drain. It will slow the grinding ability
  • Don’t use hot water when grinding food waste
  • Don’t put too many starchy foods down, like a bunch of potato peels.
  • Don’t put too much food down at once
  • Don’t use harsh chemicals like bleach or drain cleaners

Below is a list of items that you should never put down your garbage disposal, despite what others may have told you:

  • Grease, oils, fats
  • Fibrous veggies (corn husk, artichoke, onion skins, celery stalks)
  • Too many starchy foods at once
  • Expandable foods (pasta, rice, oatmeal, etc.)
  • Nuts
  • Large animal bones (NOTE: Small chicken and fish bones and small fruit pits are O.K. because the particles in them create a scouring action that can clean the disposal’s walls)
  • Coffee Grounds
  • Harsh cleaners

If you are looking for some easy ways to keep your garbage disposal running problem-free, you’re in luck. One cheap method for keeping the blades sharp and breaking up grease build-up is with ice! Just toss in some cubes once or twice a month and run it! You can even freeze vinegar in ice cube trays for an even better job at cutting through those odors. Another inexpensive method is by taking a lemon or orange and toss it into the disposal. For stubborn odors, pour baking soda into the drain and let it set for several hours! Then, with some cold water going, run the disposal. Borax can also be used. Just pour 3-4 tablespoons into the disposal, let it sit for a while, turn on HOT water, and flush it away.

So overall just treat your garbage disposal well and it will treat you well in return. And as always, if you run into an issue, be sure to call a licensed professional.