Garbage Disposal Dos and Don’ts

garbage disposal

It should come as no surprise that the month of November – right around the corner – is the top month of the year for garbage disposal issues and replacement. It makes sense when you think of all the Thanksgiving gatherings centered around a massive meal, during which the garbage disposals become the unsung heroes of the kitchen. Here at Armstrong Plumbing, Air & Electric, we know how dependent our residential customers are on their garbage disposals. That’s why today – with the wonderful holiday season quickly approaching – we’re going to talk a little bit about how to treat your disposal to ensure it answers the call.


Here are some general garbage disposal rules to follow regarding what to do/not do:


  • Have the disposal professionally installed to ensure proper hookups to power and plumbing. Then read the manufacturer’s manual thoroughly.
  • Only run cold water through the disposal. This will allow fats to coagulate, so they can be ground up and flushed instead of building up in the disposal and on pipes.
  • Before turning on the disposal, check to ensure silverware, jewelry, etc. have not fallen into it.
  • Make sure your children understand the proper way to use the disposal.
  • Grind lemon or other citrus peels in the disposal for a fresh smell.


  • Never stick your hand into the garbage disposal. Use tongs or other utensils to remove items.
  • Stick anything other than food scraps down the disposal. This includes wood, metal, cigarette butts etc. The disposal is not a trash can.
  • Pour grease or other animal fats into the disposal.
  • Run hot water into disposal. See above.
  • Put coffee grounds or excessive amounts of potatoes, pasta and other starch-heavy foods into disposal. The disposal will grind them, but excess amounts may clog the plumbing.


Your disposal should be cleaned periodically, and the good news is that you can use common household items to do it. Here are some cleaning tips:

  • Baking soda and vinegar: One cup of each down the disposal makes a great cleaning solution.
  • Ice cubes and rock salt: The gritty compound will essentially scrub the inside of the disposal.
  • Water flush: Put a stopper in the drain, fill the sink about halfway, add some dish soap, then pull the stopper.


Depending on the make and model and how well it is maintained, a garbage disposal can last anywhere from 8-15 years. If it stops working or if it begins leaking from the bottom, give our licensed plumbers a call and get a new disposal installed before the heavy-duty holiday season arrives. Please visit us on social media!