How to Make Your Garbage Disposer Love You Back

ukapala/stock.xchngLike George Washington (the president) and Old Faithful (the geyser), a garbage disposer (the appliance) is an exemplary workhorse. It does what's expected of it day in and day out and asks for virtually nothing in return. No tune-ups, no sharpening, no maintenance whatsoever. In fact, to perform at its best, the only thing a good disposer needs is the proper input from you—that is, what you put in to the disposer. So pay attention to what goes down the sink, remember to add a little water, and, please, keep your fingers out of the way; he's got some serious work to do. And, if you feel you must, you can thank him with a bath or a spritz of citrus now and then.

It's Definitely Cold Water

While you may find the question of hot vs. cold water in the disposer about as stimulating as the Ford-Chevy truck debate, there is a right answer to the former: When you put food down the sink, run COLD water before you turn on the disposer. The prevailing opinion is that cold water helps to solidify fats so they break up and travel down the drain as solids, not liquids that are more likely to stick to the drain walls. You should run the water before, during and for several seconds (or longer) after using the disposer. It's ok to pour or run hot water down the drain, of course, it's just best to use cold for grinding up food waste. 'Nuff said.

Don't Dis the Disposer

Putting bad stuff down the sink isn't just disrespectful to your appliance, it's downright dumb, because it usually leads to a blocked drain, and, ultimately a major drain on your wallet. Unless you have one of those fancy new disposers with bio-injectors and multi-stage impellers, don't put the following down the drain: fibrous vegetables (potato and carrot peels, celery, artichokes, corn husks, etc.), bones and pits, flour, and large quantities of rice. And no matter what kind of disposer you have, never pour grease or other fats down the drain. They clog your pipes just like your arteries, only much, much faster.

What's That Smell?

Garbage disposers do an admirable job of keeping themselves clean, but eventually the food crud accumulates and starts to smell a bit offish, to put it mildly. Help your disposer freshen up with one or more of the following: Borax (the natural "laundry booster;" use as directed), citrus peels (grind up small pieces at a time), and commercial disposer cleaners (such as Disposer Care). It also helps to manually clean the underside of the disposer baffle—the pleated rubber shroud around the drain hole. These are removable on some newer disposers (a very good idea). 

Great Gift Ideas

Need a way to say "thanks" to that special someone under the kitchen sink? Why not bring a little bling to his humble existence? Disposer manufacturers offer a range of accessories and upgrade parts for their machines. How about an oil-rubbed bronze stopper? Or a new sink flange in mocha or polished stainless steel? A removable sound baffle can help your appliance do his job more discretely and with less splash-up. After all, it's a dirty job, but somebody's gotta do it. 

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