Caring for In-Sink Garbage Disposals

Under the sink shot of garbage disposal

Garbage disposal issues are common, but most can be prevented and almost all can be solved quickly by following the advice below.

Preventing Damage and Clogs

  1. Always run cold water before, during and after using the disposal. Never run hot water while grinding!
  2. Don’t pour grease, oil, or fat down the drain.  When disposing of grease….Once cooled, pour into disposable container, such as a can and place in the refrigerator. The grease will harden, allowing it to be easily disposed of in a trash can.
  3. Don’t place fibrous materials such as onions and potato peels (can harm blades), egg shells, glass, paper, plastic, large bones, pasta and rice (they expand), and cleaning chemicals in the drain.
  4. Use the disposal frequently, even if only to grind ice. This prevents rust and keeps the blades sharp.

Eliminating Odors


Limes, Lemons, and Oranges can be ground up to reduce odors. This is a great way to make use of a fruit that is perhaps no longer edible.


The power of vinegar is no secret.  A few cubes of frozen vinegar can go a long way. When placed in a running disposal, they can help remove buildup from the blades, a common cause of odor.


Another household cleaning must-have, baking soda is highly effective at eliminating odors (no refrigerator is complete without a fresh box). Place a tablespoon of baking soda in a disposal and let it sit for 5 minutes, then run water in the disposal.

Troubleshooting Garbage Disposals

  1. Ensure the disposal is plugged in. (Almost 15% of all garbage disposal related maintenance calls are the result of a disposal that has, for whatever reason, been unplugged).
  2. Turn on power; is the motor humming? If not, reset the breaker then follow the steps below.
  3. Resetting the Disposal:
    1. Ensure the power switch is off.
    2. Using the Disposal Wrench (should be under the sink, also available at U-Fix-It) insert into hole on bottom of the disposal: rotate clockwise 3 times, and then counter clockwise 3 times.
    3. Press the Red or Black button to reset.
    4. Test the disposal.


Something may be stuck inside.

Use a flashlight; can you see anything? Ensure the disposal is unplugged and use a pair of needle nose pliers to extract.

There could be a motor or power outlet issue.

We recommend you contact maintenance if unable to solve on your own.