The Quick and Easy 5 Minute Fix For a Clogged Garbage Disposal

by ChickFix
2 Materials
5 Minutes

A paper clip once fell into my garbage disposal without my knowledge. The whole thing seized up and I had no idea what was wrong. I feared I would have to buy a whole new disposal...until I figured out this trick. Watch the video for some added tips on how to clean your disposal with things you already have in your kitchen.

I was able to get the disposal working again and saved Thanksgiving dinner preparations by following a few simple procedures to unclog it. It can be intimidating to a homeowner to try to DIY garbage disposal fixes because they grind and chop food. Don’t be afraid to give this tutorial a try the next time yours stops working but please remember that because they have sharp cutting blades, you should never place your hand or any object inside the drain or disposal when it is on!

Quick and Easy 5 minute Fix For a Clogged Garbage Disposal

You Will Need:

  • Long-handled wooden spoon
  • Large tongs
  • ¼ inch allen wrench or allen wrench included with your garbage disposal

Step 1: Turn Disposal Switch to Off Position

This may seem obvious but be absolutely sure that the disposal switch is set to the off position before moving forward with this tutorial. When you tried to turn it on and nothing happened, you may have left the switch set to the on position and when you clear the clog, it will be on and start working. You will not want your hand or any other object inside when this happens. My garbage disposal switch is located on the front of my kitchen island.

Turn Disposal Switch to Off Position

Step 2: Remove Food or Other Items

I used my hands and large metal tongs to remove as much food as I could from the clogged disposal. Try to look down inside the drain and determine what might be the cause of the clog or if there is an item lodged inside that can be removed.

Remove Food or Other Items

Step 3: Turn Blade Manually Above Sink

I used the long handle portion of a wooden spoon to try to turn the blades manually from the sink drain. Place the handle of the spoon down inside the drain/disposal and try to manually rotate the sharp cutting disc. If this doesn’t help, you will have to go underneath your sink to the disposal motor.

Turn Blade Manually Above Sink

Step 5: Look for clogged Items Again

After manually turning the blades, I looked inside the sink drain to see if the trapped food or non-food item was visible. If so, remove the food or trapped item now. 

Look for clogged Items Again

Step 6: Turn on Disposal Switch

Turn on the disposal and run water down the train for several seconds. If the disposal is still not working, there may be a more complicated problem than a clog and it could be time to consult a plumber!

It is so common for a garbage disposal to become clogged by overloading it with food or even from non-food items falling into the drain and getting trapped. Before calling a plumber, which can be quite expensive, it is very easy to try to unclog the disposal and get it running again. Although the disposal has sharp cutting blades, don’t be too intimidated to try to correct a simple clog, and follow these steps to get your disposal working properly again!

Do you have DIY tips for unclogging your garbage disposal that solve the problem without fail? Share your best tips for solving kitchen problems like this one and get inspiration for DIY kitchen fixes at Hometalk!

Suggested materials:
  • Hex Key/Allen Wrench   (In house)
  • Wooden spoon   (In House)
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
  1 question
  • MaryAnn MaryAnn on Jan 17, 2020

    Did you remember to shutoff the circuit, at the breaker box? It should be labeled in the box. If it isn't, label it for next time! Never try to move the blades with the power on. Using a wooden spoon is a good idea. You won't lose your finger(s)! But pieces of wood can fly up out of the drain into your eyes! So could that paper clip! Working the hex nut from the bottom, is the safer method, but work it gently with the power off. If the joints in the piping loosen too much, removing the clog could cause the disposal to fly apart. Again metal shards or pieces could land in your eyes. Walking wounded enter ERs all over the country everyday, after fighting with jammed disposals, that still had power. Disposals don't always stop because of a clog. Sometimes an electrical problem like an intermittent short circuit is at fault. Remember to tighten everything back up, remove the spoon from the sink, hit the reset button and turn the breaker back on. Test the disposal with something appropriate, (vegetable parings, a lettuce or cabbage leaf) to ensure the disposal is Properly functional again. Any problems? Time to call a repair person in.

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