Garbage Disposal Basics: Proper Use and Care

Scraps of fruit sitting in a sink before going down the garbage disposal.

Garbage disposals make kitchen cleanup much easier and more efficient, but they’re not indestructible. These appliances are made to grind and drain small scraps of food left on dirty dishes, not large pieces and entire meals. Ensure long-lasting reliability and performance with this guide to garbage disposal basics.

Proper Garbage Disposal Use

What Can Go into the Disposal

The first step in proper garbage disposal use is understanding what should or shouldn’t be put in them. While small scraps and most food items can be put down the disposal, you should consult manufacturer instructions for the capabilities of your specific model. As a general rule of thumb, don’t grind anything that’s not biodegradable food.

Proper Operation and Care

On top of only grinding items intended for your disposal, following simple operation and maintenance guidelines will help get the most out of your appliance:

  • Avoid overloading the disposal with too many or too large of items – throw large items in the trash or break them into smaller pieces first to lighten the workload and maximize the appliance’s lifespan.
  • Run cold water while grinding food and continue doing so for 10 to 15 seconds after turning disposal off.
  • Run the garbage disposal every few days with cold water to help prevent rusting and potential buildup of waste.
  • If you notice a smell/odor coming from the disposal, grinding ice cubes and then running hot water will usually resolve the issue. Doing so will also help keep the blades sharp and clean.
  • Periodically grind lemon or orange slices for extra, natural freshening of the disposal.

As with any drain in your home, never use harsh chemical cleaners or bleach that can damage your disposal and pipes. If you notice persistent smells or clogs, contact your local drain cleaning professional to properly diagnose and resolve the issue.

Selecting the Right Garbage Disposal

Like any appliance, not all disposals are created equal. Choosing an inexpensive model will save money in the short term, but you can expect louder operation, less efficient and effective grinding (and thus more potential for clogs and other plumbing issues), and a significantly shorter lifespan. Investing in a garbage disposal with more horsepower and performance features will last about 10 years as it grinds food much more easily.

At Robillard, our preferred brand of disposals is inSinkErator. Engineered with two-stage MultiGrind Technology, the InSinkErator Quiet Series processes more difficult food waste with ease, grinding scarps into the smallest of particles to be easily washed down the drain. Contact your local plumber for help selecting and properly installing your ideal model.

Once you get used to having a garbage disposal, it’s hard to imagine cleaning up after a meal without one. While these appliances typically last about 10 years, improper use can cause damage, requiring repair or even early replacement. Use these garbage disposal basics to maximize the performance and useful life of your unit.

Robillard Plumbing has proudly provided expert drain cleaning and plumbing services with professionalism and reliability since 1986. From new appliances and fixtures to emergency service, our knowledgeable team is here for all your plumbing needs. Contact us today to learn more.