How to Clean Your Garbage Disposal After Heavy Winter Cooking

Garbage disposals are a great help in the kitchen. But they can be surprisingly fragile considering their power. After a long Winter full of cooking — and boxing up the leftovers in the refrigerator — your garbage disposal might be a little bit worse for the wear. Here are a few ways to get it back into perfect working order.


Get rid of built-up oils.

Garbage disposal systems are largely self-cleaning, but oils and fat can clog them (and the surrounding pipes) up faster than the disposal can clear it all away. Flush it with hot water to thin and clear away congealed oils and fats. You can also pour a mix of ice cubes, salt, and baking soda down the disposal to clear away developing clogs. The combination will scrape at the sides of the machines and pipes without causing damage.

Get rid of smells.

Even after you rinse out your sink, smells can linger deep in your garbage disposal. Holiday cooking with lots of spices, heavy meat, and starchy water can make the smells even stronger. Clear it out by putting a halved lemon or two down the garbage disposal and grinding them up with some ice. Not only does the acid help clear away the remnants of food, but you also replace the small with a lemony fresh scent.

Know how to fix a jam.

Sometimes food solids are too much for your garbage disposal's motor. The shaft will jam and stop working. If this happens, but you can still hear electricity getting to the motor, manually turn the shaft. Find the hex-shaped hole at the bottom of the garbage disposal and stick an Allen wrench into the hole. Manually crank the shaft in both directions to try and dislodge the food. Usually, it will come free with just a few turns.


There are a lot of DIY ways to get your garbage disposal working as it should. But if the problem is serious or you think something is wrong with the pipes, don't hesitate to call a plumber. Contact us at A R Engh Heating & Air Conditioning to schedule an appointment.

-A R Engh Team