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11 Golden Rules For Using A Garbage Disposal

Garbage disposals are quite popular in USA but not so much elsewhere in the world. According to a survey conducted by US Census Bureau in 2009 more than 50% of the American homes own a garbage disposal, and that number has been increasing ever since. There is no doubt that garbage disposals are a great solution to our kitchen chores but if not maintained properly they can cause never ending hassles.

Below are 11 golden rules to help you keep your garbage disposal running smoothly for the many years to come;

1. A BIG NO NO for brands those are not popular

When you buy a garbage disposal try to buy it from a popular manufacturer. While I cannot say theirs are the best products this will save you the trouble of running around in case of any snag. As popular brands are likely to provide better customer service and have more service centers, you will get faster replacements or service, and also the availability of spare parts will be more compared to those of a local manufacturer.

2. Cleanliness is next to Godliness

This holds true for any garbage disposal. During use some food particles and residue can be left behind which, over time, rot producing bacteria and unpleasant odors.

The solution is simple. Keep the unit clean. But there is no need to stress over it. There are a lot of inexpensive and DIY homemade solutions to help you do it.

Some are worth a mention here:

  • Ice- Just put a handful of these, turn your unit ON, run some cold water while it runs and lo! The unit is clean. You can do the same with a mixture of ice and rock salt. The salt will scrub the insides of the unit clean. Simple, right?
  • Baking Soda and vinegar- Your humble kitchen ingredients are the saviors here. Half a cup baking soda and a cup of vinegar, one followed by the other will do the trick. Let the mixture sit for some time and then run the unit with water flowing. The mixture will reach every nook and corner of the unit and make it odor free and clean.
  • Avoid using harsh chemicals for your unit as they will do more harm than good. You can, however, use Borax for cleanup.

3. Deodorize the disposal unit

Lemon, orange or any citrus fruit will help in deodorizing the disposal unit. In fact, there are commercial citrus tablets available to do this very thing. However, remember to use lemons and citrus fruits sparingly as they will damage the metal inside your disposal unit.

4. Remember the thumb rule – Cold water when grinding

An important thing you must keep in mind is – leave cold water running while grinding food wastes in the disposal unit. The reason is simple; with the cold water the fat content in the food remains grind-able and passes through the plumbing easily. On the other hand, hot water liquefies the oil and the grease, which gets accumulated, resulting in clogging of the drains.

5. Garbage disposal- not a trash can

Garbage disposals are not trash cans, so don’t keep food wastes in it for too long. Why? The food left in the disposal will start rotting and will spread bad odor. Also, the oil and grease will slowly obstruct the path in narrow pipes. This is a sure recipe for clogging the pipe.

6. What and what not to dispose

Your waste disposal unit is a machine; hence there are some do’s and don’ts which are to be followed to help it serve you for a long time to come. One such thing is to know what should go into it and what shouldn’t.

First, have a look at all that which should never… ever go into a disposal unit:

  • Anything too hard is sure no for putting in the unit. It damages the inside of the unit. Similarly, small hard objects may jam up the rotating parts.
  • Starchy or fibrous food items also are not meant for disposal units. Starch gets thick and can clog up the drainage pipe while fibres of the vegetables might get tangled with the inside parts of the unit. This will also result in clogging up the pipes. Hence it is better to put banana peels, potato peels, artichokes, coffee filters, egg shells, uncooked rice, pasta, etc. in the trash bag. Most disposals come with a list of such items, so just go through the manual.
  • Fruit seeds, pits. These too should not go into the disposal unit.
  • Bones except those of fish are also not to be put in. A trash bag will give them a better company.

Needless to mention besides food items broken pieces of glass, cutlery items also do not find a place in the unit.

7. Keep your hands safe, and fingers too

Important to note that after all, it is just a machine. So you have to take care when operating it. Though modern disposals keep high safety standards they can’t prevent you from putting your fingers in, so don’t be stupid and be careful while using them. Also don’t make them accessible to children, always keep the on/off switch away from the reach of children.

8. Rolling stones gather no moss

Well, keep your disposal running. You have to use the disposal unit regularly so that it does not get rusty. The movement gives all the parts a good workout and also keeps the system clean.

9. The longer the better

Even after your disposal unit finished grinding any leftover waste, keep the water running. The reason is that by doing so the disposal will get rid of any tiny waste particles stuck in it. It will ensure that all the wastes are flushed out.

10. Break it up

The food wastes to go inside the disposal should ideally be broken down before putting inside the unit. For example you can cut fruits into small pieces before feeding them into the disposal; this will help them to go down easily and freely. This is done to avoid the machine getting stuck or jammed.

11. Clean it up!

A few diversions here and there will not harm especially if it is helping clean up the unit. Sometimes for the sake of cleaning up the disposal walls, you may grind small bones of chicken or fish. This is done to scrub the walls of the unit. However, as mentioned earlier, this is to be done occasionally as the hard food items will be difficult to grind and hence the unit might become slow if caution is not exercised. The hard items act like scrubbers and will take care of the accumulated food particles.

Remember, the waste disposal unit is not a trash can. Anything which is not biodegradable is not to be put into the disposal unit. There are a whole lot of nonfood items like plastic, metal, paper, plant clippings, fabrics, etc which should not be down in the disposal unit.

Very important – If you accidently drop something in the unit, never put your hand in the garbage disposal unit unless you have unplugged it completely. Once it has been unplugged, wear gloves before starting the extraction process.

Remember, a garbage disposal unit is a boon not just for the individual household but also for the environment. In addition to giving you a cleaner kitchen, it also helps the environment by cutting down the amount of wastes sent to landfills. This, in turn, helps in lesser methane gas production, which is the culprit of the greenhouse effect.

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