Cleaning your garbage disposal should be done on a regular basis. It is important to keep the garbage disposal clean in order to prevent buildup of food particles, dirt, and other debris from accumulating in the system. Regular cleaning will also ensure that your garbage disposal runs more efficiently and helps to avoid any potential clogs or plumbing problems that could arise from it becoming too full or backed up.
Steps for Cleaning a Garbage Disposal
1. Disconnect the power.
The first step is to disconnect the power to prevent any mishaps that could cause you harm. Depending on your unit, you may just have to pull the plug, however others will require turning it off by the switch or breaker. If that is the case, use the breaker to ensure someone doesn't accidently hit the switch and test to be sure you have flipped off the correct breaker. When the power has been disconnected, please wait about a minute for any capacitators to discharge fully.
2. Clean the splash guard.
The rubber part of the garbage disposal potentially gets food and grease trapped underneath it. Pull it out of the drain and clean it with a scrubbing brush and dish detergent to break down the grease.
3. Clean the inside
Keep the splash guard off the disposal and shine a light down to see if there is loose particles that you can clear out. Use tongs, pliers, or any other long reaching tool and not your handsas the blades are very sharp and can cut your fingers.
4. Flush the inside with natural cleaners
First put down some baking soda and let it sit for a half hour to absorb odors. Flush out any remaining particles with some white vinegar which will react with the baking soda to loosen particles. Then rinse away the vinegar and baking soda with hot water.
5. Put it back together.
Place the splash guard back and if your model allowed the bottom or blades to be removed, put everything back together and make sure all the pieces are securely back on.
6. Reconnect the power.
Plug the device back in or flip the breaker back on and have the device run for 30 seconds to ensure it's back to proper working order.
Tips for Deodorizing a Garbage Disposal
Place a few slices of lemon in the garbage disposal and grind them up with cold water. The citric acid from the lemons will help to neutralize any odors in the unit. Baking soda also can work to absorb odors. Place the baking soda down and leave it sit for a half hour and then pour some vinegar to create a foaming action to loosen food particles. Rinse out the unit out after you clean it out with lemons or baking soda so you don't leave chemicals on the device longer than they need to be.
What not to Put Down the Drain
A garbage disposal can chop up food into particles but if you have a clump of them down the drain, you can still get a clog. A garbage disposal shouldn't be used as a primary way to dispose of food off of the dishes, but rather a tool to ensure the little scraps that stuck to the plate are chopped of finely to prevent a clog. Here are some things not to put down the drain even with a garbage disposal:
Eggshells can be chopped up finely, however the membrane on the side of the shell can still get stuck to the sides of the drain pipe and with enough other debris can lead to a clog.
Coffee grinds are already pretty fine so the garbage disposal won't due much to the grinds, however coffee grinds can clump together to create clogs.
Fats, Oils, and Grease
Produce can have stickers attached to them and if you put these stickers down the drain, the particles can still have sticky residue that can stick to the sides of the drain pipe.
Potato Peels and other Starches
Even if you put the potato peels or other starchy foods down the garbage disposal to be chopped up, they still become like glue and get stuck to the other debris down the drain and create strong clogs.