Most homes have a garbage disposal in their kitchen, but these convenient appliances don’t have a very long life expectancy. However, you can extend your disposal’s life with a little bit of garbage disposal maintenance. Thankfully, maintaining your garbage disposal isn’t difficult and can come down to a few easy steps that will help prevent clogs, keep your disposal fresh and more.

Preventing Clogs

To prevent your garbage disposal and drain from getting clogged, here are a few things to avoid putting in your disposal:

  • Eggshells and Coffee Grounds – they cause tiny, granular waste that can stick to any grime or sludge in your pipes and can quickly create clogs.
  • Banana Peels – these can form stringy fibers that will clog up pipes.
  • Potato Peelings – just like banana peels, they can create starchy waste that clogs drains.
  • Ground Glass – it doesn’t sharpen the cutting blades and will definitely not clean your drain pipes.

Maintaining a Fresh Disposal

  • Periodically grind up pieces of orange or lemon peel. The oils can clean the blades, and they smell nice to boot!
  • Grind ice cubes, which help clean old residue off the blades.
  • Never use bleach and water to clean your disposal. It can harden any grease in your pipes and will also kill the bacteria in your septic holding tank that makes your septic system effective.

Of course, these are nice, but preventing clogs is the bare minimum in terms of keeping your disposal running. The good news is, there’s plenty you can do on a regular basis to ensure your garbage disposal stays in tip top shape.


  • Using your garbage disposal on a daily basis is actually enough to reduce accumulation because your disposal gets a good rinse of soapy waste water from washing dishes.


  • Flush your garbage disposal with cold water. You can do this by filling the sink with clean, cold water, then pull the drain stop and allow the water to completely drain. This will help purge the drain pipe of any loose food waste.


  • Empty a full tray of ice cubes into your sink and then grind up in the disposal. Once it turns into a slushy mixture, rinse it down with a light stream of cold water. At first, water will back up into the sink, give it a few minutes and the ice will start to melt allowing the water to drain. Grinding ice sharpens the disposal blades and can help remove any accumulated food waste.
  • Pour a cup of baking soda and half a cup of vinegar down your drain. Let it sit for about 15 minutes or until it’s done foaming. Rinse down with hot running water. This can help prevent bad odors from building up.
  • If your garbage disposal comes with a removable drain baffle, remove it and clean the surface thoroughly with water, dish detergent and a soft brush such as an old toothbrush. Make sure to replace the baffle correctly before operating the garbage disposal again.

Removing a Jam

If your garbage disposal ever does jam, there are a few things you can do to fix it. Always shut off the water from the faucet and turn off the power to your disposal before doing any repairs. Once you’ve done this, you can insert an allen wrench into the center hole of your disposal, which is located beneath the disposal.

Carefully work the wrench side to side until you can turn it in a complete circle. Now, using pliers (not your hands!), reach into the grind chamber and remove the object causing the jam. Give the motor a few minutes to cool down before pressing the red reset button located on the bottom of the garbage disposal. You are now safe to restore power to your disposal.

Final Dos and Don’ts

If all of this seems like too much work, though, here are a few basic tips to keep things running smoothly:

  • Do use a de-greaser to occasionally keep fat from building up.
  • Do snake the drain pipe every couple of years to prevent clogs.
  • Do run cold water during and after every use. Let it run for at least 15 seconds after grinding has ceased to make sure your food washes through
  • Don’t use hot water during grinding. Hot water can make any fat in the pipes congeal and make it stick to the blades in your unit.
  • Don’t put grease, fat or pasta through the disposal.
  • Don’t use harsh cleaning chemicals.
  • Don’t ever grind anything other than food in your disposal.
  • Don’t fill the disposal, grind food waste gradually.

When your garbage disposal finally gives up the ghost, don’t find yourself in a jam! Consider a warranty from Home Service Club to ensure your garbage disposal doesn’t stay down for long.

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