The best way to clean and maintain your garbage disposal

The best way to clean and maintain your garbage disposal



Garbage disposals have quickly become an important part of household kitchens. As you do the dishes, these handy appliances make it easy for you to scrape off leftover food and let the disposal take care of it, rather than constantly cleaning out the sink’s drain cover.

It can be frustrating for everyone involved when garbage disposals malfunction. A clogged or broken disposal can make it difficult for the kitchen sink to drain properly, which can cause huge issues. The best way to avoid this problem lies in properly cleaning and maintaining your garbage disposal to help it last as long as possible. 

If you have a garbage disposal, let’s walk through what you need to know about taking care of this valuable appliance.


How to clean your garbage disposal in 7 easy steps

Cleaning your garbage disposal can ensure that you don’t allow any leftover food or grime to build up inside. Routine cleaning can also keep the appliance working smoothly and minimize wear and tear on its components. 

Fortunately, giving your garbage disposal a deep clean is a straightforward DIY task. You don’t need a plumber or special disposal or drain cleaners. We’ll walk you through what you need to do to clean your disposal. 

Step 1. Power off the disposal

Make sure that you’ve powered off the disposal before getting started. Failing to do so can result in injury. It’s important to turn off the appliance and disconnect it from its power source. 

Step 2. Remove debris

Next, take a flashlight and shine it into the disposal. This will help you see the appliance and detect any large pieces of trapped debris. If you see anything that needs to be removed, use pliers or tongs to grab it and pull it out. You should put on a rubber glove and put your hand in the garbage disposal only as a last resort. Avoid doing this whenever possible. If you need to put your hand inside the disposal, double-check that you’ve disconnected all power sources fully. Be careful around the blades within the unit when putting your gloved hand into the disposal.

Step 3. Power the disposal back on

After you remove any visible debris from inside the disposal, reconnect the disposal’s power and turn it back on. This will get you ready for the next step in the cleaning process. 

Step 4. Fill the sink with hot water and run the disposal

Put the plug into the drain and fill the sink halfway with warm water. Then pull out the stopper, turn on the disposal, and let all the water run through it. Once all of the water flows through the disposal, turn off the disposal again by disconnecting it from the power source. 

Step 5. Scrub the disposal with a brush and soap

Next, take a long-handled scrub brush and some dish soap that can cut through grease to scrub out the gunk inside the disposal. You can use an old toothbrush if you do not have a long-handled brush. Get the brush wet, add some soap, and scrub inside the disposal. You want to break through any greasy buildup and food waste that might accumulate on the appliance’s sides, which can clog it up and cause problems over time. 

Once again, it’s important not to put your hand directly into the disposal. Instead, use a brush that allows you to keep your hand outside of the disposal as you scrub. Reconnect the power source and run warm water through the disposal once you’ve finished scrubbing all surfaces within.

Step 6. Grind ice cubes and salt

Grind some ice cubes and rock salt once you’ve rinsed the soapy water through the disposal. This process can break up and clean any gunk stuck to the blades.

Put about 2 cups of ice and a cup of rock salt into the disposal, turn it on, and run cold water through the appliance. 

Step 7. Rinse clean

Once the garbage disposal finishes grinding the ice and salt, give your disposal one final rinse to make sure it’s all cleaned out. 

If your appliance still needs some freshening up, you can pour half a cup of baking soda and a cup of vinegar into the garbage disposal, and allow it to sit for about 10 minutes before turning on the disposal. The white vinegar will help kill anything that might make your disposal stinky. 

A second option for deodorizing the disposal is to feed chopped citrus peels into the appliance and allow it to grind them up to release the aromatic acids.


3 tips for maintaining your garbage disposal

Proper maintenance plays a key role in keeping your garbage disposal working smoothly for years to come. In addition to regularly cleaning it as described above, it’s important to care for the appliance to avoid wearing out the parts too fast or otherwise causing damage to the different components. Here are the three key ideas to keep in mind as you use your garbage disposal.

Don’t overload the disposal

Don’t put too much food in your disposal at one time. In general, aim for no more than a cup of food in the disposal. Putting in too much food can cause the system to jam up, and the teeth of the disposal might not be able to grind up the food properly. Too much food can also make it harder for the appliance to work efficiently, even if it can grind up the food. This can wear out the parts faster and lower the life span of your appliance. 

Clean the disposal regularly

It is important to run through the cleaning process mentioned above at least monthly. This helps prevent dirt, food particles and grime from building up in your disposal, preventing water from draining through the appliance properly. Failing to clean the disposal regularly can also result in bad odors from food caked around the inside of the disposal.

Avoid putting certain items like eggshells in your garbage disposal

It is a common myth that putting eggshells down the garbage disposal helps sharpen the blades of your appliance. This old tale is false and can damage your disposal. 

Eggshells aren’t the only food to avoid running through the garbage disposal. 

The following items can also cause clogs:

  • Fats, oils and grease: Also known as FOG, these items can stick to the sides of your garbage disposal and clog up the holes.
  • Starchy or fibrous vegetables: Fibrous vegetables like celery can be difficult for the appliance to break down properly.
  • Coffee grounds: Coffee grounds do not grind up well in a garbage disposal and can cause clogs.
  • Bones: Bones can’t be ground properly and can damage the blades or clog up the disposal. 

These items will need to go into the trash can, or dispose of them another way.


Protect your garbage disposal from costly repairs with Cinch

A garbage disposal can be a tremendous asset for your kitchen and make it much easier to keep your space clean. You can dispose of leftover food scraps without constantly cleaning out drain covers. A clean garbage disposal can last for many more years than one that does not receive proper maintenance. 

Even when you take the time to clean your disposal and maintain it properly, normal wear and tear happen. As a homeowner, you want to have access to professionals who can fix the problem if something goes wrong. 

Fortunately, the Cinch Built-in Systems plan covers garbage disposals and makes it easier for you to relax. If your disposal starts giving you problems for any reason, you can access the coverage and the trained service technicians you need to get it running again quickly. Reach out today for an instant quote!


Maintenance and cleaning can keep your garbage disposal working for as long as possible. Here is what you need to know about caring for your disposal.

Your home protection is ready and waiting!