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Unclogging a Garbage Disposal

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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.


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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 Mercurymarc11/29/2013

Woo hoo! My wife and I peeled 9 lbs of potatoes and sent them down the disposal before our Thanksgiving dinner. Then we had a total and complete kitchen sink clog! I tried 3 bottles of chemical drain unplugging products and even removed the trap and snaked the line about 18 inches. Still 100% clogged.

My wife decided to call the plumber in the morning but I read this post and thought what the heck. I removed as much standing water as I could, then dumped in 1/2 box of backing soda, then poured in about a cup of white wine vinegar. It sat for 15 minutes while I boiled some water then I added about 4 quarts of boiling water.

Then I filled the sink up with hot water and was getting ready to plunge but the sink unclogged itself! I plunged a little and repeated the process because I had the other half of the box of baking soda. I ran a ton of hot water through it and it is fine.

The total cost was $1.49 (actually I could have done it using only half the box so it would have been $0.75 and I already had the vinegar in my kitchen so let's say that was free). Thanks to this great forum I just saved $200 and my wife thinks I am superman!

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: 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: 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: 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: Clearing Paint from Disposal

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

By Russ J. from Ft. Collins, CO

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 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 [97]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: 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: 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 [231]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: 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 rrjc7807/19/2013

Stupidly garbage disposed the remnants of two whole (cooked) artichoke peels, resulting in a very, very clogged disposal. Tried the 2 cups vinegar (only had apple cider vinegar), 1/2 cup baking soda trick, and turned switch on, only to find it didn't work. Attempt #2: 2 cups vinegar, 1/2 cup baking soda, switch on, and while doing so poured in kettle full of boiling water. And guess what? It worked. Now I have a fixed garbage disposal. Awesome.

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: 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 [410]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.


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