Preventative Maintenance Tips

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With the holidays upon us, how we care for our garbage disposal can be the one difference between holiday cheers and holiday fears! Most of us enjoy the convenience of tossing leftover food into the sink along with our plates because we are confident that our garbage disposals will aid in not only making the dish cleaning process more efficient, however, we can also rest a little easy knowing that we are helping the environment by cutting down on the amount of trash that gets sent to landfills.

Kitchen sink image with garbage disposal

On the flip side, things can go terribly wrong when our garbage disposal is not properly working because of clogs and waste left behind. With a backed-up sink and unwanted smells in your kitchen, this can have you singing… deck the halls in a different tune.

Nevertheless, ProActiv Prevention, your friendly neighborhood handyman and preventative maintenance company have the tips and tricks to help you clean your garbage disposal to avoid meeting the grimy grinch gunk of your unit anytime soon.

Garbage Disposal 101: Be careful what you dump!

Most of us take our home appliances for granted until something goes wrong. Unfortunately, not too long ago one of our clients experienced this firsthand when she discovered that her garbage disposal stopped working properly. She was in her kitchen cooking and doing her normal cleaning routine when she realized that her disposal was jammed and making a grinding sound.

Assuming that she would have to replace the entire unit, she contacted ProActiv Prevention to give her an estimate on a new garbage disposal and labor cost. However, once the ProActiv Technician came out to look at the garbage disposal, they were able to see that the disposal was jammed by an ungrounded piece of food, but it could easily be fixed by using a blade rotator key.

Do Not Dump:

Typically, we all know the list of safe foods to throw into our garbage disposals, however, from time to time, when in a rush, or even out of a habit of dumping everything into our kitchen sink, that list could go out of the window. So as a quick refresher, please see the list of things that should not go into your garbage disposal.

Pushing food into garbage disposal image


  • Fibrous Foods
  • Grease/Oil
  • Shells/Peels/Nuts
  • Meat
  • Coffee Grounds

Extra Care Tips:

  1. Avoid putting corn cobs, artichokes, avocado pits, chicken bones, and fish bones into your garbage disposal.

  2. Don’t grind up eggshells or coffee grounds. When these materials go through a garbage disposal, they are turned into tiny pieces of debris that can easily get caught on anything else in the pipe. As the particles of ground shells or coffee accumulate, they can cause a clog.
  3. Putting potato peels into your garbage disposal is like filling them with mashed potatoes. The starch in the ground-up skins causes a clog that can easily clog things up.
  4. Don’t slip any banana peels down your disposal. These starchy skins can cause the same issue that potato skins do.
  5. Never pour grease or liquid fat into your garbage disposal. As these fats become solid, they clump up and block the flow of food and water.
  6. Read the instruction manual that came with your garbage disposal to find a specific list of what you can and can’t put into it.

“It’s better to be ProActiv than to be reactive!” – ProActiv Prevention

    Clean Intentionally!

    Baking Soda in the garbage disposal image

    Like most of our home appliances, we can avoid repairs and replacements by simply cleaning them properly! For a garbage disposal, you should clean it once a week, or at least once every two weeks as best practice. It is important to clean your garbage disposal regularly to keep it well maintained, and free of growing bacteria that give off bad odors!

    “Bacteria can contaminate surfaces and become a hazard for healthy breathing and living conditions.” -Romano

    Baking Soda and Vinegar

    • Sprinkle about a half-cup of baking soda into the disposal, followed by a cup of white or apple cider vinegar.
    • Let the mixture bubble up and sit for five to ten minutes.
    • Turn on the disposal and run cold water to distribute the mixture and flush it through the unit.

    Method Ice and Vinegar Method

    • Fill the disposal with ice cubes and pour in 1 cup of rock salt or vinegar
    • Flush the disposal with hot water.
    • You can also use this method as a follow-up to the vinegar and baking soda technique for a further boost.

    Oxygen Bleach Method

    • Pour a solution of 1/3 cup of oxygen bleach mixed with 2/3 cup of hot water into the disposal
    • Flush with hot water for several seconds

    All of these cleaning tips were inspired by author Aaron Stickley, and you can read more at How to Clean a Garbage Disposal.

      How We Can Help

      Preventative Maintenance with your garbage disposal is pretty easy. It’s about keeping it clean and putting the correct items in it. But if you find your disposal needs more attention, give us a call and we will be happy to help you.

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