After years of use, you may notice that your garbage disposal’s blades are becoming dull and aren’t grinding as efficiently. This can lead to major clogs in your drain. But before you call a plumber to replace your system, you can make the garbage disposal run more efficiently with a few items you probably have in your kitchen right now.
First, it should be said that garbage disposals may not work the way you think. There are no blades chopping up food as it spins around. According to the company InSinkErator, garbage disposals have “impellers, or lugs, mounted on a spinning plate use centrifugal force to continuously force food waste particles against a stationary grind ring.” It’s that ring that turns food into tiny particles so they can go through the pipes like liquid.
So, if there are no blades, how do you sharpen a garbage disposal? It comes down to cleaning the gunk and residue off the grind ring, which will make the disposal run more efficiently.
The easiest way to do this is to add a handful of salt and ice cubes to the garbage disposal and grind them while running cold water through the system. As the ice breaks into smaller pieces and mixes with the salt, it scrubs the inside of the grind ring. The cold water will help push any remaining food waste down the drain.
You can keep your disposal smelling fresh by grinding a lemon rind (or any citrus fruit peel). Just cut up the rind into smaller pieces before sticking them into the disposal; then, turn the disposal on and run some cold water to flush away any lingering food particles. You can also freeze vinegar into ice cubes and use those, instead.
The best way to keep your disposal clean and working efficiently is to be careful what you throw in it. According to Consumer Reports, people should never put items like grease and oil down their drain because they can easily solidify and clog a drain. Stringy and fibrous foods like artichoke leaves or corn husks are too tough to break down and will gum up the plumbing, so they're better thrown in the trash or composted. It’s OK if you occasionally grind up small chicken, fish, or beef bones, but don’t make a habit of it.
And if you notice that your garbage disposal still isn’t working well after trying these hacks, then it’s time to call a plumber.