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How to Keep Your Garbage Disposal Clean and Unclogged

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Tips and Tricks
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Fact: few things can stink up your kitchen faster than an untended garbage disposal. And if you let your disposal go too long without proper care, you may have to battle clogs, too. And you can't have that.

Luckily, cleaning and maintaining your disposal is easier (and cheaper!) than you might think. Columbus homeowners, start taking some cleaning notes.

Tip #1: No, Your Garbage Disposal Is Not Invincible

Though your disposal may seem like a mighty, food-chomping sink beast, it has its limitations. So to ensure the shredding blades don't get gummed up and the rotating parts don't jam, be aware of what you send down the drain.

As a rule, you'll want to avoid sending hard objects down the disposal, such as…

  • Hard shells from shellfish.
  • Popcorn kernels.
  • Hard bones.

Putting fibrous or starchy items in the disposal can cause clogs, so try putting the following items in the compost heap rather than the disposal:

  • Banana peels.
  • Celery.
  • Potato peelings.
  • Cornhusks or cobs.
  • A heap of coffee grounds.
  • Fruit pits and hard seeds.
  • Egg shells.

Of course, use your common sense when sending things down the drain. It's not a garbage can, so never put bottle caps, twist ties, or sponges down it!

Tip #2: Cold Water Is Your Disposal's Friend

When you turn on your garbage disposal, make sure to run the cold water, too. This helps move the waste through the drain and keeps the motor from overheating. You'll typically want to run the disposal and the water 30 to 60 seconds after the matter is pulverized to ensure the food is pushed all the way down.

Tip #3: Clean Your Disposal Regularly

If you notice a rank smell wafting from your disposal, it's time to inspect the black rubber cover – food debris may be trapped under the flaps. (Related reading: "5 Places Around the House You Don't Clean but Should.") Though this may seem like common sense, it's worth repeating: the disposal must be off before you clean it. If you can remove the cover of your disposal, lift it and scrub it with warm, soapy water. If attached, lift each flap and scrub it with a toothbrush and soapy water.

To clean the actual disposal mechanism…

  1. Sprinkle a half-cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by one cup of white vinegar. Wait for the mixture to fizz and let it set for a few minutes. Pour boiling water down the drain to rinse the debris the solution lifted.
  2. Every once in a while, send some ice through the disposal. (You often hear that doing so sharpens the blades, but really, this step is to remove caked on grime and debris.) For an extra boost, pour some salt over the ice cubes, and then run cold water and turn on the disposal until the ice is gone.
  3. To freshen up and deodorize the disposal, run cold water, turn on the disposal, and send small pieces of citrus rinds through it.

For more DIY Columbus house cleaning hacks, check out "Natural DIY Ways to Remove Shower Soap Scum and Mildew." And if you need some extra cleaning assistance, check out how our Columbus house cleaning services can save you time and stress.

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