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Unclogging a Garbage Disposal

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kitchen sink

Unclogging a garbage disposal can be a nasty job. This is a guide about unclogging a garbage disposal.


Solutions: Unclogging a Garbage Disposal

Read and rate the best solutions below by giving them a "thumbs up".

Tip: Clearing Potato Peelings From Disposal

After deciding to send potato peelings and carrot peelings down the drain, I immediately regretted it. They had gone past the disposal, but had clogged the pipe. I was home alone with 2 kids under 3. I happened upon this post and saw the baking soda and vinegar as well as a plunger tip.

So I took the plunge. I plunged the sink a couple times and got the clog loose. Then for good measure I did the baking soda with vinegar, let it sit while a kettle of water boiled. Then poured that down. Works like a charm!

As soon as I tell my husband, he is sure to say "I told you so" about the peelings going down the drain. But I fixed it myself. You live, you learn.

    By momof3boys [1]

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    Here are questions related to Unclogging a Garbage Disposal.

    Question: Unclogging a Garbage Disposal

    My garbage disposal is clogged after putting down a handful of frozen turkey. It spins, but will not drain. Where is the clog and how do I unstop it?

    By Alice from Glen Allen, VA


    Most Recent Answer

    By Miriam G.11/25/2014

    Helpful but did not solve my GD dilemma. It unclogged the adjacent sink also. :)

    Question: Garbage Disposal Won't Drain

    My waste disposal is jammed. The blades are going around because the water is spinning, but it won't drain. Any ideas?

    By Rebecca from TX


    Most Recent Answer

    By prettysmile062611/18/2013

    I had no idea about the potato skins! After reading about the vinegar, baking soda and hot water, tried it and Zappo! No plunging needed, less than a minute my drain was totally clear. Thanks a million.

    Question: Unclogging a Sink With a Garbage Disposal

    When using my kitchen sink it fills up with water and I have to run my garbage disposal to get the water to drain. Even then it doesn't drain all the way out. Can anyone tell me what's going on and how do I fix this problem?

    By mytroubleswontgodownthedrain from Washington, DC

    Most Recent Answer

    By Sally M.03/07/2015

    The Baking Soda + Vinegar + boiling water worked for me! Thank you! Having a party tomorrow. After cooking all out, all day the garbage disposal stopped draining about 10:00 pm. Thank goodness for Google and all you good people who share. Based on an earlier post, I let the baking soda and vinegar sit for about 15 min. Then I added the big pan of boiling water. For about 15 seconds nothing happened. Then all of a sudden it drained all at once with a big whoosh! Luckily I didn't have anything in the other sink basin.

    Question: Plugged Garbage Disposal

    My wife put carrots and potato peels in the disposal and it is just a plugged up mess. It spins, but will not not drain. Any suggestions before I call the plumber? The disposal sits in the middle of the sink; it's not a divided sink.

    By Scott

    Most Recent Answer

    By Vi Johnson [237]10/18/2011

    Try pouring in a 1/2 cup baking soda followed by a cup or two of white vinegar. Run the disposal. If that doesn't loosen try a second cup of baking soda followed by pouring another 2-3 cups of vinegar from the gallon bottle, With the disposal and water running as well. Follow with a pan of boiling water.

    Then run cold water from the tap.Hope this works for you. It does at our house. And then run a weekly 1/2 cup baking soda and cup of vinegar down all drains in the house. Always follow with cold water to flush through. GG Vi

    Question: Disposal Runs But Sink Won't Drain

    My disposal still runs, but water won't go down drain.

    By Pam

    Most Recent Answer

    By Alexander De R.09/06/2013

    If you have a dishwasher attached to the main line by the garbage disposal - run it. It unclogged my garbage disposal from too many potato peels, when all the other suggestions wouldn't.

    Question: Clogged Garbage Disposal

    Like a dummy, I put tangerine skins with seeds into my garbage disposal. I turned it on and the light over my sink died as well as the disposal power. I turned the power off and let the water drain from both sinks. Then I used rubber gloves and cleaned all the mess. I used a flashlight and it looked quite clean.

    I turned the power back on, pushed restart button, but the blades did not turn, only humming. Will baking soda, white vinegar and hot water help? I am a woman and do not know what else to do except call a plumber. By the way, I can turn one of the blades manually with my finger, it seems quite loose. Many thanks for any suggestions.

    By A B

    Most Recent Answer

    By blomxr01/31/2014

    Whoa, why did you say "I am a woman and only know how to call a plumber." Just because you're a woman doesn't make you incompetent and stupid.

    Question: Dishwasher Won't Drain

    My brand new KitchenAid dishwasher doesn't drain completely. There are about 3-5 cups of soapy, dirty looking water standing in the bottom of the dishwasher after every load. This is the 3rd dishwasher we have had in this same spot in the kitchen and we have never had this problem before. We cleaned our disposal and used vinegar and baking soda to get the disposal and drain to run freely, but the problem remains. Any suggestions?

    By Mary G

    Most Recent Answer

    By Kate P.02/02/2014

    It's the drain and chopping mechanism. You have to take it apart and pull all the gunk that has made it past all the screens and filters. This happened to me and I thought I had the problem solved having exposed the chopping mechanism and pulling about about 2 dozen bits of chicken bone, corn, popcorn kernels, beans and bits of plastic. Well, I hadn't gone far enough into the machine and had one more cover to remove and more crap to pull out. That did the trick!

    Question: Dirty Grit Backing Up From Garbage Disposal

    Disposal apparently disposed of about 14-16 egg shells. However, the sink then began to fill with water and dirty grit. About a week earlier, I had about 3 ft. of cast iron drainpipe in the basement removed because it was badly cracked and repeatedly filled with pumber's epoxy. The dishwasher drain had been improperly connected into the cast iron pipe years before, so the plumber had to do a new connection into the new plasic drain pipe. I'm not sure whether I had run the disposal between the repairs and when the grit started filling up into the sink. But I had run water into the sink, the primary sink side I usually use. It has now been about 2 days of not letting water go down that sink, so I assume the disposal is empty. What should I do to ensure that dirty grit isn't filling up into my sink through the disposal? I'm worried that perhaps a lot of cast iron pipe fell down into the pipe when that section was removed. I don't have a picture and the water has now gone down. There is only grit on the surface of my sink.

    By Beverly

    Most Recent Answer

    By Louise B. [5]01/09/2015

    It is not uncommon to get a back up in your sinks when you have a disposal. I have some questions for you - does the disposal sink run water easily now? If so, I think your problem is solved. Is the dirty grit sand or ground up egg shells or something else?

    I would seriously doubt that replacing a pipe in the basement would affect your disposal. If it is ground up shells, and these are still there, your trap may be plugged. What I used to do is run water in both sinks. Work the plunger in the disposal sink. If it is the trap, the gunk will rise up in the other sink. Plug that sink with something; another plunger is the best thing. Then plunge vigorously in the disposal sink to dislodge the plug. If this doesn't solve your problem, call your plumber back. Do not use any caustic cleaners in your disposal sink.

    Question: Water Not Going Down Disposal

    My disposal spins and the water goes down, but it comes right back up like a tornado. I tried a plunger. What is wrong with it and is there a simple solution? Thanks.

    By Dee

    Most Recent Answer

    By Louise B. [5]10/12/2013

    It sounds like you have a plug. Most disposals are in a double sink, and you have to seal one off and then use the plunger on the other one. I find that two plungers (and two people - one on each plunger) work the best. Seal off the second sink with the first plunger, fill the disposal with water, and plunge away with the second. Disposals are usually plugged with ground up food, like potato peels.

    Question: Disposal Backs Up Into Sink

    My disposal gets clogged, when using the dishwasher and backs up into sink. How can I stop this?

    By rooney72 from NY

    Most Recent Answer

    By Sandi/Poor But Proud [429]07/06/2009

    As a property manager, I have had my share of this. There are some really good things to do.
    One, don't put things like celery or potato skins down the disposal, as they are stringy and starchy, and gum things up.
    Two, run water before and after you use the disposal.
    Three, once a week, throw in a few ice cubes and coffee grounds to keep the blades sharp.
    Four, if the trap is clogged, it's just a couple of turns with a wrench or even your hand (PVC is easy) with a tub or big bowl under neath. For those "plumbing challenged" folks, that is the "U" shaped one under the sink. Clean it out, reattach and you are good to go.

    Question: Clogged Garbage Disposal

    I read that vinegar, baking soda, and hot water was used to unclog the disposal. How much should I pour into the disposal?

    By Judy

    Most Recent Answer

    By Ace [3]12/15/2013

    Cleaning a Garbage Disposal
    Toss in a handful of baking soda followed by a cup or so of cheap white vinegar. This will foam and fizz. When the fizzing stops, add some more vinegar. Leave it in for about 20 min, then flush with very, very hot water. Easy, homemade and cheap, also non-toxic.

    Question: Clogged Sink and Disposal

    My drain is clogged in the the sink next to the garbage disposal. Every time I run the disposal the water comes up on the sink next to the disposal.

    By Pete

    Most Recent Answer

    By Litter Gitter [117]12/30/2011

    Pour about 1/4 cup dawn dish detergent in the sink drain and let sit for about 15 minutes. Then pour a kettle of hot water in the drain and use a plunger to clean out the drain. This should get the drain cleaned out and flowing good. I saw this tip on Thriftyfun and it has worked well for me.

    Question: Food is Staying Inside Garbage Disposal

    My garbage disposal runs and grinds up the food but the food just stays in the bottom. Is something clogged and if so, how do I unclog it?

    By 9524mom from Phila, PA

    Most Recent Answer

    By Lilian09/11/2009

    Perhaps you are not running enough water while the garbage disposal is on? Perhaps you put some items in the disposal that are not supposed to go in there, like banana peels? That is all I can think of.

    Question: Clearing Paint from Disposal

    Paint poured down my disposal. Will baking soda and vinegar clear it?

    By Russ J. from Ft. Collins, CO


    Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the feedback that was provided then.

    Archive: Unclogging a Garbage Disposal

    How do I fix a garbage disposal? It is stuffed up and won't drain.

    Laura from San Diego, CA

    RE: Unclogging a Garbage Disposal

    I put celery strands in the disposal and the disposal jammed. To unclog the disposal in 2 seconds I used a "Hex Wrench" in the middle hole of the disposal under the sink. It wasn't until I moved the hex wrench that I noticed the disposal, which would not rotate, begin to spin freely. Try this method first before you waste a bottle of vinegar and a box of baking soda. (01/30/2009)

    By MoebiusTripper

    RE: Unclogging a Garbage Disposal

    Use canned air, it works like a charm. (02/03/2009)

    By Susie

    RE: Unclogging a Garbage Disposal

    It really works. My wife had put potato peels down the garbage disposal and the sink got back up. My wife suggested plunging or trying to snake it. I went to the internet. I tried the 1/2 cup of baking soda, 1/2 cup of vinegar, let it set for 10 minutes and then added the boiling water and turned on the disposal and within minutes it was working perfectly. I will use this from now on. Thanks for the tip. (02/05/2009)

    By Eric

    RE: Unclogging a Garbage Disposal

    Very nice. I consider myself pretty handy and this is a new trick to me. I tried the key in the disposal and then the plunger. Nothing seemed to work. Then I stumbled across the baking soda and vinegar. This cleared it out with a couple plunges. Cheers. (02/16/2009)

    By Scott

    RE: Unclogging a Garbage Disposal

    You guys are not pulling my leg with these are true testimonials about the soda and vinegar. I'll have to try this one next time I feed the disposer a bit too much. I rarely buy vinegar so I rarely have it.

    Usually, after manually fishing out any pulped material and checking for any stray metal items (I've lost about a dozen measuring spoons that way), mine will clear itself up fine. If it's still stubborn I put the stopper in and half fill the sink with detergent water. Then I turn the unit on and pull out the stopper. Guuuuuuush, and it flushes itself out. (03/19/2009)

    By Red Neck

    Archive: Unclogging a Garbage Disposal

    How do you unclog a garbage disposal?

    By Sylviaelaine from Denison, TX

    RE: Unclogging a Garbage Disposal

    It is probably not the disposal that is clogged, but the drain pipe that runs from it to the main drain pipe. What I've done in the past with ours is pour one cup of baking soda into the non disposal side and then two cups of white vinegar. If I see the bubbles come up through the disposal, then I know it isn't the disposal. If I don't see them, then I do the same thing on the disposal side. Let it set for 5 minutes then flush with boiling water, on both sides. Repeat if needed, but do not run the disposal while you are treating the drain. Once the clog has moved on, run the disposal with the hot water running for about 10 minutes. (06/23/2009)

    By ScottishYankee

    RE: Unclogging a Garbage Disposal

    The same day my garbage disposal stopped working, I noticed my roommate's aquarium was gone, and there were suspicious blue and green aquarium rocks in the stove.

    My co-worker lent me a long socket wrench with the correct size socket. I locked onto the bolt inside the disposal between the blades, was able to wiggle it, then turn in a clockwise direction. The water in the sink drained, and I felt inside the disposal for any dislodged items, nothing. I turned on the disposal, it ran perfectly, and I could hear small rocks that sounded blue and green ricochet deep inside the disposal until they fell through. Although I won't have to replace the garbage disposal, I may need to replace the roommate. (09/12/2009)

    By ubersh*t


    Spent 300$ last year after I (stupidly) put sunflower stems down my disposal. This time used hot water and plunger after I clogged it with beet greens. Time to compost. (btw-wanted to try baking soda and vinegar trick, but my husband insisted on hot water and plunger.) (09/12/2009)

    By landolove

    Archive: Unclogging a Garbage Disposal

    My garbage disposal is clogged. What should I do?

    By Tanya from Flint, MI

    RE: Unclogging a Garbage Disposal

    We called a plumber when it happened to us, and he showed us a little notch on the bottom of the unit under the sink. An Allen wrench fits into it and then you just turn it to loosen the clog. There is also a reset button on the bottom we had to push after unclogging. Hope this helps. (10/18/2009)

    By suzanne831

    RE: Unclogging a Garbage Disposal

    My husband had tried to plunge, it didn't work. Baking soda and vinegar, then hot water. Plunged a few times and it drained out. Saved the expense of the plumber coming out. (10/22/2009)

    By tromano

    RE: Unclogging a Garbage Disposal

    I tried 3 cans of Pepsi and the plunger; it worked perfectly. Thanks for the insight, who would've known? (11/03/2009)

    By jcaliber31

    Archive: Unclogging a Garbage Disposal

    How do I unclog a garbage disposal using apple cider and baking soda?

    By Joel from Kansas City

    RE: Unclogging a Garbage Disposal

    Take the allen wrench that came with the disposal and insert it into the hole at the bottom of the disposal and turn it counterclock wise. If you have lost the allen wrench go to a big box store and buy one. The size of the wrench is a standard size. The people in the plumbing dept should be able to help you locate one. Then after using it tape the wrench to the disposal so you know where it is the next time you need to use it. (12/02/2009)

    By foxrun41

    RE: Unclogging a Garbage Disposal

    I hope you meant apple cider vinegar, and not just plain apple cider? To keep the drain lines clean from food fat/grease buildup, occasionally heat up about 1.5 gallons of water, pour into a bucket; then add 1 cup of TSP (trisodium phosphate) and pour into the disposal while it is "on", be careful not to spill this mixture onto the sink surface. It will dull/discolor. but it will definitely clean out the drain line. Years ago, it was used for cleansing car radiators.

    Oops, forgot to answer your question. Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda into the drain; then pour 3/4 cup of vinegar (clear one). Let it remain for about 30 minutes, then pour 1-2 qts. of very hot water. This should eliminate the stubborn drain. (12/02/2009)

    By Cajun62234