Your disposal should break down food waste, not act as a trash can. Broken glass, paper towels, produce stickers, and ex-photos are prohibited. Despite the temptation, toss these items in the trash.
Never run your garbage disposal without cold water. Cool temperatures solidify fats and grease, allowing them to flow through pipes easily.
Hard, fibrous food waste shouldn't go down the drain. Biggest no-nos:
Kale, lettuce, chard
Your garbage disposal helps prevent dishwasher clogs by grinding up food scraps. Still, don't cram in all your kids' untouched veggies. Small, manageable loads prolong the life of your disposal. Chop or trash any large pieces.
Apple, banana, potato, onion, etc. peels shouldn't go down the drain. These form icky sink-clogging goo instead of being properly disposed. Except lemon and orange peels. Grinding these can freshen your garbage disposal.
Hot water can dissolve sticky residue and melt greasy messes, so it should unclog your garbage disposal. Incorrect. The heat will melt fats and grease, creating a bigger mess.
Never use your hands when you see your fork. Even when not running, your disposal can cut you. Dislodging a clog can start the disposal, so don't put your hand in there. Turn off the breaker and use tongs or pliers to remove the stuck object.
Regular cleaning prevents buildup and clogs. Citrus peels can freshen things up, but they won't clear sludge. Look for garbage disposal-specific cleaners to clean yours. Harsh drain-cleaning chemicals can damage parts.
There are a few death rattles to look for when deciding whether to repair or replace your disposal. Basic garbage disposal troubleshooting can help, but some issues require a pro. A plumber or handyman can help you repair or replace your garbage disposal.