5 Simple Tips to Fix a Clogged Garbage Disposal

What You'll Need
Ice cubes
Lemon peel
Needle nose pliers
Hex-head wrench
Wooden dowel
Drain auger
Gloves and gauntlets

A clogged garbage disposal can often be the result of overuse as well as taking the appliance for granted. Following some steps to rectify a clog can also help you to maintain your garbage disposal to ensure that the drain remains clear. By understanding the correct procedure as well as the anatomy of the garbage disposal, you can rectify the problem while avoiding the hazards that can come from blades, water and electricity.  


Electrical and water supply must be removed before any work takes place. Ensure that any water supply to the garbage disposal unit is run dry before beginning work. Because you may be coming into contact with sharp components, it is advisable to wear strong work gloves and gauntlets while working or, alternatively, to remove sharp components until the task has been completed.

Water Flush

A clogged garbage disposal can be caused by dry goods being ground up in the mechanism without the aid of sufficient water to flush it down and carry it through the drainage system. Items such as potato and banana peel can create a thick starchy paste and egg shells and coffee grounds can result in tiny particles that quickly cause a clog. Try to clear a clog by switching on the garbage disposal while running the faucet at full flow, continuing it let water run down the drain for several long seconds after the clog has disappeared.   

Lemon and Ice

If water alone is insufficient to clear a minor obstruction to the clogged garbage disposal, use some ice cubes and lemon peel and allow these to get ground up in the mechanism. The acid of the lemon peel will work with the coarseness of the crushed ice to clean the mechanism and pipes. Run water down the drain after completing this process.


After disconnecting the power supply to the clogged garbage disposal, shine the beam of a flashlight into the sink drain to determine whether you can see the cause of the obstruction. If you can see and recognize the blockage, use a wooden dowel or handle of a wooden spoon into the drain to dislodge it or carefully use a pair of pliers to withdraw it.


If you have retained the hex-head wrench that is likely to have been included with the original garbage disposal unit, use this to manipulate the flywheel. Switch off the power supply and position it at the relevant point at the base of the garbage disposal unit. Use the instruction manual as a guide, if necessary. Turn the wrench back and forth to turn the flywheel in order to free the blockage. If this does not work, try to do the same thing manually by turning the flywheel by accessing it via the sink drain and turning it with a wooden dowel. Turn the power back on and run water as you test whether this has worked.   


Switch off power to the clogged garbage disposal to dismantle and check the drain trap. Locate the S-shaped pipe beneath the sink and use a wrench to remove the fasteners to gain access. Remove the drain trap from its holding in the disposal discharge and clear any blockages that you find. However, where there is no clog present, there is likely to be a clog further down in the plumbing system beyond the wall. In this case, you will need to use a drain auger, which is a slim flexible cable that can be wound into the drain to dislodge any obstructions. Reassemble all the parts and switch the power back on before testing the disposal.