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How to Fix a Clogged Garbage Disposal – Quick Guide

Learn how to fix a clogged garbage disposal with our guide. Learn the easy steps to clean, remove blockages, and maintain your disposal unit.

So you just stuffed a few things down your garbage disposal, turned it on, and now nothing is happening. 

You hear a different noise than usual, and now water and gunk are just backing up in your sink. 

Oops! It looks like your garbage disposal might be clogged.

You’ve probably put too many little things in there – they’ve jammed it up, and now it can’t turn.

This could be things like too much rice, quinoa, or shaved veggies.

Fear not. There’s no need to call a plumber just to unclog your drain!

They’ll charge you a butt-ton of money for something you can do in just five minutes. 

Instead, try our step-by-step instructions on how to unclog a garbage disposal.

how to fix a clogged garbage disposal

How to Fix a Clogged Sink Garbage Disposal Unit

Supplies needed:

Before you begin, here’s what you need:

  • Bucket
  • Towel
  • Flashlight
  • Safety Gloves (Optional)
A photo of a garage disposal pipe draining into a big blue bucket

Steps to Unclogging a Kitchen Garbage Disposal

STEP 1: Clean and Locate

First, clear out everything under your kitchen sink to give yourself plenty of room to work. 

Then, locate the pipe coming out from your garbage disposal unit. This is where we’ll start our unclogging adventure!

STEP 2: Prepare for Some Plumbing

Gently loosen up the plastic nut where the disposal pipe meets the drainage pipe from the other side of the sink. 

Make sure you’ve got a bucket placed underneath – things might get a bit wet and messy!

STEP 3: Disconnect and Clean

Next, carefully pull the pipes apart and allow any backed-up water or food waste to drain into the bucket. 

This might be a bit yucky, but it’s a crucial step in getting your disposal back in action!

STEP 4: Remove the Garbage Disposal Clog

Now, reach into the downward-facing pipe and feel around for any stuck food or debris. 

Be brave – you might find some unexpected things in there! Try to remove all the blockages you can find.

STEP 5: Reassemble and Test

Time to put things back together. Reattach the pipe securely.

Once everything is in place, run plenty of cold water through your disposal and turn it on.

This should help flush out any remaining bits of junk. Then, listen for that satisfying whirl of a clear disposal!

Extra Garbage Disposal Tips

  • Always make sure the power to your clogged sink disposal unit is turned off before you begin any work!
  • Many garbage disposals come with an Allen wrench designed to manually turn the blades and dislodge clogs from beneath the unit.
  • Regular maintenance can prevent clogs. Avoid dumping large food scraps and non-biodegradable items in your disposal.
  • A Sink Auger or Drain Snake can help remove clogs that are further down the drainage pipe.

Unclogging a Garbage Disposal Video

If you’re more of a visual person, check out this quick video. It’ll show you everything you need to know!

It’s really simple to fix a clogged garbage disposal. Just follow these simple steps.

Garbage Disposal Unclogging FAQs

What can and can’t go down a garbage disposal?

Prevent clogs by only disposing the correct food waste:

Can Go Down: Soft food scraps, small fruit and vegetable peels, potato peels, cooked pasta or rice in small amounts, and soft food leftovers. 

Can’t Go Down: Hard or fibrous materials like bones, fruit pits, corn husks, onion skins, coffee grounds, eggshells, non-food items, and any kind of oil, grease, or fat. These can damage the blades or clog your pipes.

How often should I clean my garbage disposal?

It’s a good idea to clean your garbage disposal about once a week. Regular cleaning stops any bad smells and keeps it working smoothly. 

Just run some dish soap and cold water through it after use, and for a deeper clean, use a mix of vinegar and baking soda.

Is it safe to use chemical drain cleaners in a garbage disposal?

Nope, it’s best to avoid chemical drain cleaners. They can be harsh on your disposal’s pipes and components. 

Instead, for clogs, try using a combo of baking soda and vinegar, followed by hot water. 

This is what I usually do – it’s safer and works quite well!

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