How to Clean & Fix a Garbage Disposal in 3 Easy Steps

By: Todd Covelli | Teresa Strasser Posted: 6:21 PM, Jun 17, 2020 Updated: 11:21 AM, Jun 29, 2020

If your garbage disposal is starting to stink, make noise or get clogged, we’ve got you covered. The List spoke to Mike Donley from Donley Service Center who has three DIY tips on how to clean a garbage disposal yourself.


1. How to Clean a Garbage Disposal with Ice, Water & Lemon


First, start by performing a weekly clean the natural way – but with a twist. “A great way to clean your disposal is with a tray of ice and some lemon,” advises Mike. He says add only a couple cubes at a time and alternate with a lemon slice. The citrus helps keep it smelling fresh, too! While you may already know this technique, Mike says most of us are missing a critical last step: flushing it out properly after the ice and lemon have gone down. “[L] eave the water on for a minute or two just to flush everything down, and you know the line is clear.” Sounds easy enough!


2. How to Fix a Garbage Disposal Jam


Next up, Mike has two tips on how to fix a garbage disposal jam. “Somewhere under your sink is […] a key for your garbage disposal. It goes in the bottom, then you can use it to free it up,” he structs. If you can’t find the key, Home Depot and Lowes have affordable replacements for around seven dollars. And if the jam has caused a mysterious power loss, look for the secret button on the bottom of your disposal. “It may have tripped a breaker, and there’s a little red button on the bottom…It will be popped out if it’s tripped – you just pop it back in,” ensures Mike. Good to know!


3. Put Your Disposal on a Diet


Finally, it’s time to put your disposal on a diet as certain foods can clog it up! “[The] number one culprit we pull out of drains is potato peels,” warns Mike.  “Stuff like potato peels and pasta: when it gets water in it, it expands and clogs your drain. That stuff gets scraped into the garbage. Other things that aren’t good for the disposal [are] oils, bacon grease, eggshells – just limit that as much as you can.” Duly noted!


Ready to unleash your inner plumber! Now you’ve three easy tips on how to clean a garbage disposal yourself.