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How to Use and Maintain a Garbage Disposal

Garbage disposals are useful tools for getting rid of food waste. However, if used improperly or not well maintained they can fail. This is a guide about how to use and maintain a garbage disposal.


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August 29, 2011

My residents would always come to me for help with their disposals. After fishing out food waste, I advised them that the first cleaning is free, but from then on it's $50.00 each time. That pretty much cured them.

Since "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure", I would always tell them that certain things don't go down the disposal in the first place.

1. Bones
2. Celery
3. Starchy things like spuds peels and rice
4. And lastly, no plastic bread tabs, wire ties, pennies, etc.

When they are ready to grind, run the water for a few seconds, and then feed gradually. Let the water run after it has shut off for about 30 seconds.

To keep it not only clean but smelling clean, I always told them to grind up some ice cubes with 2 tsp. of lemon juice once a week. It not only keeps the blades sharper, but smells good.

I hope this helps. It sure did them!

Source: Too many years experience.

By Sandi/Poor But Proud from Salem, OR

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By 0 found this helpful
December 11, 2009

I read tips on clogged garbage disposals and tried the vinegar/baking soda trick. It didn't work because the pipe from the disposal was filled with chopped up Brussels sprouts!


The lesson learned is always send enough water when chopping up vegetables as recommended. If the disposal is working and the plumber's friend won't dislodge the gunk, you have to dismantle the pipe and clear it. Joints nowadays are easy to turn.

By Stan from Portland, OR

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August 16, 20130 found this helpful

This is a guide about keeping garbage disposal smelling fresh. All of that food waste going down your garbage disposal can result in a smelly unit.

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August 23, 20110 found this helpful

With all the food and other waste that gets run through a garbage disposal it definitely needs to be cleaned occasionally. Regular cleaning will help the performance and extend the life of your garbage disposal also.


This is a guide about cleaning a garbage disposal.

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January 17, 20010 found this helpful

When you are running your garbage disposal, don't use hot water. The only thing cooling down the motor is the water going down the drain. By using cold water you reduce the amount of wear on the motor and increase the life expectancy of your garbage disposal.

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
January 17, 2005

Could I please have a list for do's and don'ts for a garbage disposal,

Thank you,



By disposal girl (Guest Post)
January 18, 20050 found this helpful
Best Answer

Don't ever load things into the disposal when it is running - never stick metal objects down into the disposal. Potato peels are not good to go into the disposal, because they can get stuck to the inside of it and cause odors where you can't see or get to them.


"clean" the disposal occasionally with orange or lemon rinds

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January 18, 20050 found this helpful
Best Answer

The ones mentioned are good tips. Always run cold not hot water while running the disposal. Hot water heats up the motor of the disposal. Don't run it without water running. Don't put in corn cobs, corn husks or woody stems. They usually just roll around and won't grind up.

If your disposal should stop, there quite often is a reset button on the disposal motor. Push the button and try it again. If you think something is jammed in it, (while it is turned off) take a broom stick and try to push the bottom wheel around to see if you can loosen it. Never put your hand or fingers, or any utensil in the disposal when it is running.

Susan from Thriftyfun.

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