How To Use A Garbage Disposal – A Comprehensive Guide

How To Use A Garbage Disposal – A Comprehensive Guide

A garbage disposal is a household appliance that is primarily utilized to grind up a family’s household waste. When the food is ground up to a fine consistency, it is flushed down the drain and sent to the nearby treatment facility.

It is undoubtedly true that a garbage disposal is an incredibly beneficial addition to almost all homes, but the appliance needs to be used properly, in order to ensure efficiency and safety.

How does one utilize the garbage disposal safely, without putting themselves or their family members in harm’s way? You’ll find out in this guide.

How does disposal work?

How To Use A Garbage Disposal

First and foremost, it is essential to learn how disposal actually works. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the fundamentals, you’ll have a much better chance of using the disposal safely and correctly. Disposals are equipped with a rotor and a pair of impellers.

When the unit is turned on, the disposal’s impellers will push the food toward the side of the grinding canister. This is where stationary blades will grind the waste into fine pieces.

The disposal can be switched on with a switch. Depending on how your kitchen is set up, the switch could be on the wall or under the cabinet.

Types of Garbage disposal

When it comes down to it, the specific operational procedure for your garbage disposal depends solely on the type of disposal it is. There are two main types, and each one is used differently. Although they’ll serve the same purpose, both present unique benefits, and cons.

If you want to keep your family safe, you’ll want to opt for the batch-feed model. However, you need to remember that these varieties tend to be a little slower and less convenient than the alternatives.

Do’s And Don’ts of Using Garbage Disposal

In order to keep your disposal in good shape and to maintain its pristine condition, it is pertinent to make sure you use it properly.

Improper use will cause your disposal to wear out more rapidly, and this will force you to replace the unit much more quickly. Below is a breakdown of what you should do when using your garbage disposal.

Run Cold Water – Before using your disposal, it is a good idea to switch on the cold water and leave it running, until the grinding process has concluded. The water is what moves the flood down the drain and keeps it from getting clogged.

Watch Closely – Although you may eventually become comfortable with your disposal, it is always a good idea to remain cautious and keep a watchful eye on the disposal’s operation. Watching the operation process closely will give you the ability to stop potential problems and decrease the risks involved with continuous feed models.

Keep It Clean – It is a good idea to keep your disposal clean. If buildup has developed on the blades, they won’t work efficiently. Adding a little dishwashing soap to the drain and switching on the disposal is a good way to get the blades clean.

Use It Frequently – Using your disposal frequently is recommended. If you have a disposer, but only use it from time to time, there is a risk of the disposer’s blades developing rust and corrosion. Switch your disposal on from time to time, even if you’re not disposing of food waste.

Make The Job Easier – When dealing with large items, it is generally a good idea to cut them into smaller pieces. Also, be sure to introduce them to the disposal separately.

Attempting to overload the unit will cause it to malfunction and become jammed. Make the disposal’s job easier and it’ll serve you for a longer period of time.

Refer To Your Manual – Before using your disposal, it is essential to know what it can and cannot handle. Although some disposers will be more than capable of grinding up bones, others won’t be compatible with such substances. Read the owner’s manual that came with your disposal, so you can figure out precisely what it can do and what it cannot do.

Check The Warranty – Finally, it is a good idea to check your unit’s warranty and read the fine print. There are some activities, which will void the warranty.

Prevent this from happening by only using the disposal for its intended purpose. The warranty will normally tell you what is fine and what will void your warranty.

Now, it is time to learn about the don’ts. These will be provided below.

No solid Objects – Although it might seem far-fetched, some people will put anything and everything at their disposal. This includes paper, metal, cigarette butts, and even glass.

It has happened in the past and will most likely happen again in the future. Just make sure you’re not the one that falls for such a scheme. Your disposal cannot handle these items, so don’t bother.

No Potato Peels – Potato peels need to be disposed of differently. Once these items are ground, they will transform into a thick paste. The paste could very well stick to the blade and cause problems.

No Fibrous Materials – It is also essential to avoid feeding your disposal foods that are fibrous. Celery sticks, artichokes, and corn husks should never be added to your disposal. These materials will grind into fibers, which can wrap around the disposal’s blades and cause them to jam.

Don’t Overfeed –Some people will become impatient and will begin feeding their disposal too quickly. This can be very problematic and could very well result in your disposal kicking the bucket sooner than it normally would.

Take your time and treat your disposal right. Introduce items to the disposal slowly and listen to the cues of the motor, so you know when it is ready for more.

Don’t Use Harsh Materials – Although it may seem like a good idea initially, it is essential to avoid using harsh chemicals at your disposal. Drain cleaners and bleach must be avoided.

These materials are capable of damaging the disposal’s blades and will render them ineffective. Instead, use Borax to clean your disposal. This cleaner is natural and will eliminate odors, without dulling the blade.

Don’t Add Non-Biodegradable Foods – You also need to avoid adding non-biodegradable foods to your disposal. These foods are also harmful to your disposal. They’ll damage the motor, as well as the blades. Dispose of this waste in a different fashion to maintain the condition of your disposal.

Although problems can still arise unexpectedly, it is a good idea to stick with these rules. They’ll help you avoid many problems, while also extending the longevity of your disposal.

Eco-Friendly Waste Disposal

There are more than 3,500 landfills in America, with many of them filling at risk of filling to the maximum capacity any day. It has been determined that Americans generate around 220 million tons of waste annually.

The waste found in landfills is responsible for producing approximately 22% of methane emissions and these numbers continue to increase every year. An average household will generate around 4.3 pounds of waste on a daily basis, which is a massive increase from 1.6 pounds in 1960.

There are two methods that offer a safer and more convenient way to dispose of food waste, paper products, and yard debris. One of these methods involves garbage disposal, while the other involves a composter.

If only every American citizen would invest in one of these products, there would be a good chance that these harmful missions could be reduced by half. Of course, everyone would need to get on board and become part of the plan in reducing greenhouse emissions.

Continuous Feed Operation

The continuous feed operation garbage disposal is the more popular model among global consumers. The popularity rating is contributed to the convenient and user-friendly operation. If you have never used one of these garbage disposals before now, it is highly recommended that you take the time to read through the instruction guide first.

Using an improper method of operation can damage the components embedded into the appliance. For instance, operating the disposer without cold tap water will cause the motor to overheat. Not only will this damage the motor beyond repair, but it will cost you a bit of money to replace the entire unit.

The proper way to use a continuous feed operation disposer begins with turning on the water spigot. Avoid using hot water for this process, because the heat will damage the onboard motor and other components.

  • Turn on the spigot (cold water only)
  • Switch on the disposer
  • Gradually feed small quantities of waste into the chute
  • Wait until the grinding process is complete, before moving onto the next step
  • Leave the water running until the food is flushed down the drain and the chamber is clear
  • Switch off the disposer
  • Do not turn off the water until the drainpipes are cleared (30-60 seconds)
  • Now turn off the spigot

It is important to follow these steps to a tee, since skipping one can damage even the smallest component. If you have small children living in your home, you should encourage them to avoid using the garbage disposal.

Continuous feed models are very risky to use and just the slightest misjudgment can lead to a severe wound or amputated finger.

Reverse Switch

When shopping for a new garbage disposal, you should only consider the models that are equipped with a reverse switch. Food wastes that are not ground up properly can get jammed and stuck into the disposer without a moment’s notice. It is nearly impossible to unjam the clog and it is highly advised to never stick your hand into the chute.

This is where the reverse switch will come in handy. As soon as a clog is noted, you should immediately turn off the unit and then flip the reverse switch. The grinding blades will begin to spin in a counterclockwise direction, dislodging the clog.

This feature can definitely save you a lot of time and prevent you from making a huge mess of the situation. Avoid all models that are not equipped with a reverse switch, because it will prove to be very valuable in more ways than one.

After Use

Once your disposal has been used for an extensive period of time, it is likely that it will begin to emit a funky odor. In order to eliminate this odor, it is essential to properly clean your disposal. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done, since the blades are so dangerous and will easily gash your fingers open.

Thankfully, there are some innovative ways to clean your disposal, after it has been used. Cutting up lemons or limes and running them through the disposal is one solid remedy. You can also try using ice cubes or frozen vinegar cubes.

Also, it is a good idea to take a closer look at your disposal, after you’ve switched it off. Make sure all of the debris has managed to make its way through the disposal and down the drain. Any debris, which has been left behind, will only damage the blades and other interior components.

If the disposal stops working, it is likely that the food particles have gotten stuck within the disks. Try pressing the reset button.

If you can hear an audible humming, but the motor fails to turn, it is almost certain your disposal has become clogged. Additional steps will be required, in order to rectify this problem.


When it comes down to it, operating disposal doesn’t have to be dangerous, as long as you take the appropriate precautions and know the risks.

It is also essential to educate the rest of your family and make sure they know the hazards of the appliance. With proper education, you will be able to diminish the risks, while also knowing what will hinder the performance and longevity of your disposal.

Remember that each specific unit is different, and some will be able to grind up foods that others cannot. So, be sure to consult your disposal’s manual, before sticking something down the chute.

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