Care and Maintenance of Garbage Disposals
The unsung hero of the kitchen has got to be the humble garbage disposal. This unseen little appliance is either convenient and helpful or a stinky, malfunctioning, expensive-to-repair disaster. The most important thing to remember is that the garbage disposal’s best friend or worst enemy is the same person – you, the user.
Garbage Disposal – Helpful and Harmful Habits
It’s never too late to start establishing good garbage disposal habits. What you feed into yours can make it or break it – literally.
Some of this may seem like common sense, but after more than 25 years doing
residential appliance repairs…. well, you get the idea.
- No metal (including aluminum foil), plastic, glass, Styrofoam, paper, cigarettes or large bones.
- No coffee grounds (They do help eliminate odour and don’t hurt the blades BUT they stick to residual grease and can accumulate eventually causing a clog.).
- No caustic or flammable compounds (including bleach and drain cleaner).
- No stringy foods such as celery, artichokes, corn husks, rhubarb, or asparagus. They can wrap around the blades and burn out the motor, as well as cause clogging.
- Intersperse potato peelings with other foods to avoid starch building up into a paste that can gum up the blades.
- No foods such as rice, pasta, or oatmeal that will swell with moisture and cause clogs.
- No fatty foods, oil or grease. Lipids accumulate inside the garbage disposal and drains and cause clogging.
- Feed the garbage disposal a bit at a time; never try to cram large amounts in at once. Run cold water throughout to help food scraps move through the plumbing.
- No hot water when grinding food. It causes any stray grease to liquefy and stick to the side of the disposal and plumbing which results in clogs.
- Don’t turn off the disposal or water until you have finished grinding. When grinding is complete, turn off the garbage disposal. Leave the water running for at least 20 seconds to flush out any remaining food particles and then turn it off.
- Never try to retrieve a foreign object from your garbage disposal with your hand, use long needle nosed pliers. If the object has gotten lodged in the blades, it’s best to call in a professional rather than risk damaging the blades.
- Use it or you’ll lose it. Run your garbage disposal regularly to prevent rust and corrosion and to keep moving parts moving.
- Grind hard food scraps such as fine chicken and fish bones, squash skins and egg shells. These hard food particles act like a sand blaster on the inside of your garbage disposal keeping it clean and free of build-up.
- Feed the garbage disposal a bit at a time. Cut large food scraps down to a manageable size.
- Grinding grapefruit, orange, lemon and lime peelings is an excellent way to keep your garbage disposal smelling fresh.
- Use a steady flow of cold water when grinding scraps. Cold water causes fats to solidify and be carried away with other food debris. Hot water liquefies fat which then gets “painted” onto the inside of plumbing one layer at a time eventually accumulating into a clog.
- Grinding a few ice cubes every month is an excellent maintenance tool for your garbage disposal. It sharpens blades, scours the inside dislodging accumulated build-up, and it is very inexpensive.
- Do the same ice cube trick but substitute frozen vinegar or lemon juice cubes for water. The same mechanical effect is achieved with the added bonus of killing odour-causing bacteria.
- Commercial products such as Affresh Dishwasher and Disposal Cleaner are also effective at keeping your garbage disposal clean and fresh.
Notwithstanding the possibility of a manufacturer’s defect or normal wear and tear, many garbage disposal problems you can prevent on your own with proper care and maintenance. When it comes to garbage disposals, an ounce of prevention truly is worth a pound of cure!
Gord Haines is a journeyman appliance technician with over 25 years of experience. Contact Gord’s Appliance for repair and servicing of all your residential appliances.