Maintaining a problem-free garbage disposal

Part 1: Proper useage and cleaning tips

Many of us who have homes here in Southwest Florida have a garbage disposal in our kitchen sink. This is a really handy tool to have given that it means we don’t have to keep stinky food waste in our kitchen garbage, which helps, not only with unpleasant odors, but also with not attracting household pests like flies and ants and cockroaches. However, if you don’t take proper care of your disposal it can easily break down, block and clog the drains, and cause a long list of expensive plumbing and drain nightmares. Clogged drains are a major inconvenience and garbage disposal repair can be a costly proposition. Fortunately, most garbage disposal troubles are completely unnecessary, and garbage disposal care and maintenance is extremely easy.

Let’s start with what is a garbage disposal? According to Webster’s Dictionary: A garbage disposal is a device in a kitchen sink that grinds up food waste so it can be washed down the drain.

First, here’s the proper way to use a disposal:
1. Turn on the cold water – not hot. Cold water keeps the motor, bearings and shredder assembly from overheating. Also, cold water will cause any grease or oils that may get into the unit to solidify, so that they can be chopped up before reaching the trap.
2. Turn on the garbage disposal, and feed the the food into the disposal a little at a time. Keep utensils and your hands out of the drain.
3. Let the food clear the disposal – you can hear when it’s clear.
4. Turn the disposal off.
5. Keep the water running for 15 seconds AFTER the food has cleared the drain because the waste still has a ways to go.
6. Turn the water off.

If you want your disposal to last a long time and work well, keep these things in mind:

1. The most important rule of thumb: Don’t Put Anything In The Garbage Disposal That Is Not Biodegradable Food. A garbage disposal is not a trash can; it’s for food scraps only. Non-food items can damage both blades and the motor. When in doubt, throw it out!

2. Run your garbage disposal regularly. Frequent use prevents rust and corrosion, assures that all parts stay moving and prevents obstructions from accumulating.

3. Many people say to crush ice in your garbage disposal, but an even better idea is to cut a lemon into wedges and freeze it and then grind the wedges up in the disposal to knock off any debris buildup on the sharp edges that keeps them from grinding food properly. The oils and juice from the fruits and peels naturally disinfect the walls inside the garbage disposal and create a fresh, long-lasting scent.

4. For stubborn odors pour baking soda into the drain and let it set for several hours before running the water and garbage disposal.

5. If you smell mold or mildew in the drain, Borax is a natural sink cleaner and sanitizer that effectively works on odor-causing mold and mildew that accumulates in garbage disposals

Our next blog post will be all about what you should NOT put into your garbage disposal, so stay tuned for that. These are some general tips for keeping your garbage disposal running properly and smelling sweet, but if your disposal breaks, or you need to replace it, contact West Coast Plumbing and Water treatment. We have the tools and know-how to address any garbage disposal emergency you may have.

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Brian Wallin


Brian is a Fort Myers Native and has been in the plumbing field for over 15 years. After learning the trade of plumbing as a young man, he worked for a large reputable plumbing company in Fort Myers for several years as a service plumber. He began his own water treatment company and at that time became, a State Certified, Licensed Plumbing Contractor. West Coast Plumbing has been a successful company for the past several and will be for many years to come.

Brian McDevitt

Plumbing Technician

Brian is originally from England, and has been in the plumbing field for over 10 years. He has been a lead technician with West Coast Plumbing since 2013. Prior to joining our West Coast Plumbing team Brian worked for another reputable plumbing company in the area. He has since earned a spotless reputation within the tri county area with our West Coast Plumbing Customers.

Hugh McDevitt

Plumbing Technician

Hugh retired to Florida after owning a plumbing company in England. He has a lifetime of experience and has become an asset to our company. We highly value his experience and look forward to learning from it.

Cody Haskett

Water Treatment Specialist & Plumbing Technician

Cody has been a part of the West Coast Plumbing team since 2014 and has developed many skills since. He has become our water treatment specialist & installer, and maintains several commercial accounts. Cody is also a well-rounded plumbing technician, and commercial plumbing installer.

Stephanie Midkiff

Office Manager & Accounting

Stephanie has been in the plumbing business since 2003. Previously working for a reputable Fort Myers plumbing company as the new construction assistant manager. Stephanie has been a part of the West Coast Plumbing team since 2011.