There is nothing worse than coming home and smelling something unpleasant in the kitchen. While you might think it?s the trash, another likely culprit is your garbage disposal. Even though it?s designed to process food so it can pass safely through our pipes, more often than not, these handy contraptions get clogged if they are used incorrectly.

If you need help getting rid of the smell and unclogging a garbage disposal, we have a few ideas that will help you to understand, unclog, and clean up this vital part of your kitchen.



Why Is My Garbage Disposal Clogged?

If you?re wondering why your garbage disposal is clogged up in the first place, there are a few likely culprits causing this problem. Things that typically clog up your garbage disposal are items like:?

  • Coffee grounds
  • Potato peels
  • Grease
  • Eggshells
  • Lack of water when using disposal
  • Larger, slimy foods that can block your disposal

The particles in these foods make them stick together, creating a build-up that sticks to your pipes, which ends up blocking your disposal. Putting these items down your disposal will just lead to inefficient pipes, along with a damaged garbage disposal.

To avoid clogging your garbage disposal system, simply throw away these items, and avoid larger food particles and foreign objects that could potentially harm your disposal again. For more basic plumbing and maintenance tips, check out our suggestions on How to Prevent Annual Plumbing Problems.?


How to Unclog Your Garbage Disposal

Once you uncover the root of the problem, now you can start to tackle the clog itself – which is great basic plumbing knowledge for every homeowner. To get started, you?ll definitely want a pair of pliers, a flashlight, gloves, and a trash can nearby. If you have all the right materials by your side, you?re ready to get started.

  • Make sure that the garbage disposal is turned off and unplugged from the wall
  • Remove the drain trap covering your kitchen sink
  • Look for any obstructions in the drain
  • Do not put your hands or arm in the drain. Try to use any other tools at your disposal
  • If you see any obstructions use your pliers or other tools to remove the blockage, and throw it away
  • Turn on the water and let it run down your drain
  • Plug the disposal back into the outlet and turn on the disposal to test it

If you don?t have a more obvious blockage causing the problem, there is another way to clean out the disposal. But you may want a professional for this job.

  • Using the proper pliers, or your hand, to disconnect the drain trap (the J-shaped pipe) below your sink
  • Have a bucket underneath the pipes, as chances are, some water will come pouring out
  • Check the drain trap for any obstructions and clear it out using pliers or a small brushSnake the drain from below, removing any final build up inside your sink
  • Connect the pipes back together and run the water to test for leaks in the connections and tighten any connections that need it

If you don?t feel confident in your own ability to unclog your garbage disposal, that?s perfectly fine – there are a lot of moving, messy, (and sometimes dangerous) parts to this plumbing project. Simply contact a local plumber to handle the more troublesome clogs for you.


How to Clean A Garbage Disposal

Once everything has been cleared out, there is only one thing left to do – clean the disposal and pipes below! Following up with a homemade drain cleaner will remove any lingering odors and minerals left in your pipes. To clean your disposal, you just need a few household items.

  • Using dish soap and a sponge, clean the baffle (black rubber material in your sink) and inside drain where the baffle goes. Do not put your hand down into the grinder. If you have some tougher smells to combat, pour half a cup of baking soda and half a cup of vinegar down the drain
  • Cover with your stopper for a few minutes to let everything bubble up and break down the food
  • Run hot water down your sink, and follow up by running the disposal, so that the baking soda-vinegar mixture can run through the entire system


If you can?t combat that clogged garbage disposal, there is nothing wrong with calling for professional assistance. Here at Freedle Plumbing, we specialize in unclogging the toughest drains and garbage disposals. If you need plumbing service in Davidson, Lexington, or Forsyth County, make Freedle Plumbing your first call.