Anyone who’s had their garbage disposal unit break down knows the hassle this small appliance causes when it stops working. If you own one, it’s essential to know how to maintain a waste disposal unit and to understand the simple care it needs. Here are some basic tips from our Orewa plumbing team to help you keep your waste disposal unit clean and in good condition, saving you money on repairs or replacements.

IMPORTANT: Always make sure to power down your waste disposal unit when you need to repair or clean it.

What You Should Do For Your Waste Disposal Unit

Use cold water

Keep a steady flow of cold water running during every use. This helps to solidify any fats, oils and grease (FOG), and it helps keep the unit from overheating. Continue running the cold water for 10 to 15 seconds after the food grinding stops. Don’t run hot water during the grinding process as it can cause fat to stick to the blades and interior. But after the final flow of cold water, flush hot water through the unit for about 10 to 15 seconds to ensure that the food waste washes through completely

How to maintain a waste disposal unit
Under the sink waste disposal unit .

Clean with ice and rock salt every two weeks

Put about a cup of ice and about a cup of rock salt into the waste disposal unit and run it for a minute. The natural abrasives will scrape away the gunk lining the inside. Make sure you put the rubber stopper over the opening before you run it to keep pieces from flying out. Then pour a cup of vinegar and half a cup of baking soda into the disposal unit to kill bacteria and run it again. Next, with the power off, scrub the flaps with an old toothbrush.

Clean with a degreaser

Use a disposal cleaner or generic degreaser occasionally to keep FOG from building up. This will help with the unit’s efficiency and eliminate odours.

Break up large pieces of waste into smaller pieces

Do this first, before grinding. Large chunks of waste could damage or clog your unit, so breaking them up will help to avoid any issues.

Use the waste disposal unit frequently or at least run it every few days

To keep the blades sharp and to prevent rust and corrosion from lack of use, you need to run your unit frequently- with or without food scraps. This also gives any food that might have stuck to the sides of the appliance another chance to wash out.

Clear the drain

It’s good to have the drainage pipe ‘snaked’ approximately once every two years to prevent clogs and keep the sink draining smoothly. See our previous post on how to handle blocked drains for more on this.

Use citrus and mint as a freshener

Pour warm (not hot) water into the unit as you grind up citrus peels from lemons, limes, oranges and other citrus fruits to keep the disposal unit smelling fresh. The citrus wedges are high in citric acid, which has anti-bacterial properties, and the peels will scrub the interior on the way down. Mix in a few fresh mint leaves, too, for a refreshing fragrance.

Now that we’ve shown you how to maintain your waste disposal unit, let’s look at some common things that you should not be doing with this device.

What You Should Not Do To Your Waste Disposal Unit

Use hot water during the grinding

It’s perfectly fine to run hot water through the unit after you’re finished grinding up the waste, but always use cold water during the grinding process. As stated above, hot water can make FOG stick to the blades and interior of the unit.

Pour hot water into a clogged unit

The heat will melt FOG and make unclogging the waste disposal unit even more difficult to accomplish.

Run grease, fat, starchy food or fibrous waste through

These materials will clog the drain. Dispose of them in your solid waste bin or compost bin. This includes tough fibrous foods such as celery, potato peels, banana skins, broccoli and corn husks — all of which can tangle and stop the blades of your garbage disposal from operating.

Fill the disposal unit to the brim

If you have a lot of food waste to grind up, make sure you do it gradually and with small bits at a time. If you cram the disposal full, don’t be surprised if it can’t handle the load.

Use harsh chemicals for cleaning or unblocking

When you turn the unit on, the caustic chemicals might fly up and out. These can harm you, the plumbing system, and the environment as they flow through.

Put eggs shells or coffee grounds down the waste disposal unit

These materials can cause serious blockages. See our earlier Blog about this issue.

Grind up non-food waste

Don’t expect the garbage disposal to be able to handle paper towels, rags, plastic or other non-edible materials. The unit was designed to grind food waste only.

Neglect your safety

Keep small or important objects, such as jewellery, away from the unit to prevent them from being lost. Also, keep the edges of your sleeves or other loose fabric away from the waste disposal unit as a safety measure.

By taking our advice on how to maintain your waste disposal unit, you can keep it running more efficiently and extend its lifespan. Call us to discuss options and ideas for installing, upgrading or maintaining your waste disposal unit. Call Colette today on 027 234 5454 or email the team.