How To Unclog Your Garbage Disposal
Despite your best efforts to be careful about what ends up down your sink and garbage disposal, clogs are bound to happen. The common causes of a clogged garbage disposal include:
- Foreign objects that slip into the disposal (usually a fork, spoon, or knife)
- Feeding garbage into the garbage disposal too quickly
- Not running water while the garbage disposal is processing material
Garbage disposals can be a little finicky and aren’t as fool-proof as the name suggests. They don’t just process anything. If you have any questions about what your disposal can or can’t process, don’t hesitate to flip through the owner’s manual to find out!
Note: don’t use chemical drain cleaners in your garbage disposal. The chemicals are often highly corrosive and may ruin rubber or plastic parts.
Steps to unclogging your garbage disposal
Turn off the power
The electrical power switch to your garbage disposal should be under the cabinet, near the disposal, or on a nearby wall. If you can’t find your switch or you can’t turn it off with the switch, go to the main power panel of your home and turn off the breaker or remove the fuse that powers the garbage disposal. DO NOT stick your hand down the disposal! Even if the switch is off, it may be defective. As soon as something unsticks and the blades may start spinning again.
Take a look
Using a flashlight (not your fingers/hands), inspect to see if you can visually see what’s causing the clog
Remove the blockage
Use a pair of pliers (again, not your fingers/hands) to reach down into the garbage disposal to remove the object causing the clog.
Wait 15 minutes
Give your garbage disposal about 15 minutes to cool down before running it
Turn the power back on
Flip the switch, turn the breaker back on, or replace the fuse.
If your garbage disposal is still clogged
Turn off the power again. Insert a long dowel, wooden spoon, or even a broom handle (not your hand…) into the drain opening. Push the end of the wooden tool of choice against the disposal blades and rock it back and forth to attempt to dislocate the object and free it from the blades. Again, wait 15 min for the garbage disposal motor to cool down, turn the power back on, and reset the disposal.