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Eight Simple Rules for Using Your Garbage Disposal

A garbage disposal can be both a blessing and a curse. A garbage disposal certainly makes cleaning up after meals a lot easier, but if you're not careful, your use of it can lead to drain clogs and nasty odors in your kitchen. If you treat your garbage disposal well, it will treat you well in return. Follow these eight simple rules when using and caring for your garbage disposal.
1. Don't Put Grease Down the Disposal
You should never put grease down any drain, and having a disposal does not change that. Grease can cling to the walls of your drainpipes, grabbing on to other small food particles and eventually causing substantial clogs. Avoid grinding greasy foods as much as possible too.
2. Always Run the Cold Water
Running cold water while you use the disposal helps keep any grease or fat in the food solid so that it gets ground up and rinsed down the drain. Don't use hot water—it will liquefy fat so it adheres to your drain.
3. Keep Fibrous Foods Out of the Disposal
Foods that have too many long strings or fibers can get wound around the grinding mechanism, causing your garbage disposal to seize up. Put the following fibrous foods in your compost or garbage rather than down the disposal:
  • Celery
  • Corn husks
  • Asparagus
  • Artichokes
  • Onion skins
Avoid putting egg shells down the disposal too. Even though they are not fibrous, the membranes inside of them may wrap around the grinding mechanism.
4. Cut Things Up Before You Grind
Garbage disposals are pretty powerful, but they are not invincible. You don't want to overwhelm the disposal by stuffing too much food down the drain too quickly. Doing so may cause the grinding mechanism to seize and may lead to a clogged drain too. 
Cut large items, like spoiled apples, into chunks before putting them down the disposal. Scrape food waste down the drain a little at a time while running the cold water. Remember to start running the water before you start putting food down the disposal.
5. Just Say "No" to Drain Cleaners
Pouring drain cleaners down the disposal is just plain dangerous, since they can splash back out and get on your clothing or in your eyes. Don't stick anything down into the disposal drain, either. If the drain with your disposal clogs, your best bet is to make a cleaning appointment with Coastal Plumbing
6. If Something Isn’t Food, Don't Grind It
Cigarette butts, glass, plastic wrappers, and so forth have no place in your garbage disposal. Items that aren’t food will dull the grinding mechanism or cause it to seize up. If an object is not food, do not put it down the disposal. Make sure your family members know this rule! There are many instances in which teens and children unknowingly put plastic wrap down the disposal.
7. Deodorize Weekly
The best way to keep smells at bay is to tackle them before they get too bad. About once a week, put a few slices of lemon or orange down the disposal and grind them up while running the cold water. The tough texture of the citrus rinds helps clean off the grinding mechanism, and the acidic juice helps neutralize tough odors. If your disposal is really smelly, you can "grind" a cup of baking soda.
8. Remove and Clean Your Baffle
Most garbage disposals have a rubber baffle that sits just inside the drain. Homeowners don't always realize this piece can be removed. Just pull it out of the sink and give it a good scrub every week or two. This will greatly help with keeping odors at bay.
If you follow these eight rules, your garbage disposal should keep grinding away without complaint for years to come.