A garbage disposal is one of those appliances that you don’t know how much you use until it fails. Built to chop up food waste, household garbage disposals reduce the amount of waste you put to the curb and make that garbage less likely to attract a hungry neighborhood raccoon. But when a disposal isn’t operated properly, clogs build up, the mechanics can rust, and plumbing nightmares occur.
Check out these dos and don’ts before your garbage disposal goes kaput in the middle of your next party.
DO Keep To A Biodegradable Diet
The chopping blades of a garbage disposal weren’t meant for glass, large bones, or Junior’s plastic soldiers. Beyond the obvious damage that these items can do to the blades, or the possibility of blockages, dropping these items in the disposal defeats one of the appliance’s major purposes. By sending biodegradable household waste to wastewater treatment plants, disposals cut greenhouse gas emissions by keeping easily-decomposing materials out of landfills. Keeping your disposal to a biodegradable diet keeps your disposal both healthy and green.
DON’T Feed It Everything
For garbage disposals, not all foods are created equal. Foods that are fibrous, tough, tend to swell in liquid or turn into a starchy paste should be avoided. If you’re baking potatoes for twenty, you may want to slip those peels into a compost heap rather than take the chance they’ll become mashed potatoes in your drain. The fibrous materials in banana peels, artichokes, and celery can wrap around and impede moving parts. Rice, couscous, and pasta swell in the presence of liquids, which can over time can clog the drain or fill the disposal trap.
DO Keep To Small Portions
Although it’s tempting to shove loads of scraps down the drain when you’re in a hurry, a garbage disposal is best treated less like a crocodile’s maw and more like a hungry fledgling bird. Feeding the disposal a steady, reasonable stream allows the chopper blades to spin freely and get the job done.
DON’T Feed It A Greasy Diet
Admit it. You’ve poured bacon fat down the drain along with hot water, assuming that the grease would sweep away. But grease tends to leave a slick lining on pipes and mechanical parts. Over time, cold water encourages solidification. Solidification encourages particles to stick. Clogs grow.
DO Care For It Properly
A few simple, quick tricks can go a long way to keeping your garbage disposal working well. Check out these best practices:
•Always flush with cold water, which solidifies any inadvertent grease and clears it out
•After the disposal is done grinding, flush for 10-15 seconds more to clear all waste
•Never use harsh drain cleaners which can damage parts
•To keep your disposal smelling fresh, grind orange rinds cut into small sections
•Once a month grind white vinegar ice cubes to sharpen blades and clear hard-to-reach places.
Even the best-cared-for garbage disposal may eventually develop a clog. If this happens, check out these DIY methods to unclog a garbage disposal, or call your trusted local plumber.