Garbage Disposal Quick Fixes

Is the little monster in your sink that eats all of your table scraps acting up? Or is it starting to give off a foul smell? The garbage disposal is an often underappreciated kitchen appliance, until it starts to act up. Here’s three easy ways to maintain a well-functioning, odorless garbage disposal.

Troubleshooting a Garbage Disposal

If your garbage disposal is turned on, but isn’t emitting any noise, more than likely it just needs to be reset. When a garbage disposal is running for a long period of time, overheated, or jammed, an auto shutdown of the appliance can be triggered. This is normal and is done to protect the garbage disposal from more severe damage.

Resetting your garbage disposal is easy to do and could save you a visit from a service technician. Watch this short video to learn how to reset your garbage disposal in just a few seconds.

How to Reset Your Garbage Disposal

Unjamming a Garbage Disposal

If your garbage disposal is turning on and making a humming sound, but doesn’t seem to be grinding or working effectively, it could be jammed. Jams can be caused by solid or starchy items being wedged under or around a part in the internal disposal known as the “impeller”. When trying to remove these items, NEVER stick your hand down the drain. Here’s the safest way to unjam your disposal…

  1. Unplug your garbage disposal to avoid accidentally turning it on. The plug is most likely located under your sink. If you have items under your sink, we recommend removing it so you can better see under your disposal.
  2. On the bottom of your disposal, locate a hex-shaped hole, most often found in the center. This is called the flywheel hole. It is connected to a shaft that can manually rotate your impeller.
  3. Insert a ¼ inch allen wrench or the wrench that came with your garbage disposal into the hex-shaped hole. If a ¼ inch allen wrench doesn’t fit, you may want to try a different size or take a picture of your disposal and bring to your local hardware store. A representative should be able to provide you with the correct wrench.
  4. Rotate the wrench in both directions a few times each. This may take some force, but should dislodge any items in the impeller or shredder.
  5. If you believe there is an item that cannot be grinded in the disposal such as fruit pits, metal, glass, or bones you’ll need to remove them before plugging in your disposal. Try using tongs, long pliers, or a wet-dry vacuum to remove the item.
  6. Once you’ve removed the item from your disposal, you can then plug the disposal back in.
  7. While running cold water down the drain, turn your garbage disposal on.* If it seems to be grinding and rotating correctly, you have successfully unjammed your garbage disposal!

*If no noise or humming sound is emitted, see “Troubleshooting your Garbage Disposal” section above.

Getting Rid of Bad Odors in a Garbage Disposal

With a name like “garbage disposal” it is no wonder it can start to give off a foul smell! Odors are created from oils and rotten food accumulated in and around the shredder. Minimizing these odors is easy and can ensure a better functioning garbage disposal.

Here’s three easy ways to clean your garbage disposal:

Citrus Deodorant

Chop up a couple lemons or oranges with their peels on. With cold water running, turn on your disposal and drop the citrus into the drain. Allow the disposal to fully shred and drain, before turning it off. The citrus peels should have scraped the oils and excess food off the disposal, while deodorizing, leaving a fresh citrus scent.

Vinegar Ice Cubes

Fill an ice tray with white vinegar and freeze until solid. With cold water running, turn on your disposal and drop in vinegar ice cubes. Let run for 30-60 seconds. The ice cubes will remove any built up gunk on the blades or shredder, while the vinegar kills any bacteria that may cause foul odors. This is also a great way to sharpen the disposal’s blades.

Deep Clean Fizz

Pour a cup of baking soda down the drain and allow to sit for 1-4 hours. After the baking soda has sat, pour a cup of white vinegar down the drain and allow to fizz and bubble for 10 minutes. With water running, turn the garbage disposal to flush remaining fizz down the drain. Baking soda is great at absorbing scents and oils, while the bubbles deodorize and sanitizes hard to reach areas.