How to Unclog a Garbage Disposal with a Plunger

A clogged garbage disposal won’t drain waste food as expected. How to Unclog a Garbage Disposal with a PlungerIn the worst case scenario, the garbage disposal might get jammed altogether and fail to drain at all. In this case, the garbage disposal is associated with a humming sound or the power motor might trip.

You can however, prevent a worst case by doing timely unclogging whenever you notice the garbage disposal isn’t draining effectively. In this guide I’ll show you how to unclog a garbage disposal with a plunger.

Related: How to Fix a Garbage Disposal That is Humming

Why Does a Garbage Disposal Get Clogged?

The main source of major clogs on your garbage disposal is overfeeding and feeding undesirable waste. The grinding chamber becomes overwhelmed by the waste and therefore ends up becoming clogged.

A general rule with garbage disposals is to feed only recommended waste and avoid overfeeding. At the end of this guide you’ll also learn the kind of waste that is likely to clog or damage your garbage disposal.

Required Tools

  • Plunger
  • Pliers
  • Flashlight
  • Rubber gloves

How to Unclog a Garbage Disposal with a Plunger – 4 Easy Steps

Step #1 – Safety

As a safety measure, don’t not try to unclog or unjam the garbage disposal while it’s connected to the power. So, the first thing you do is to unplug the garbage disposal from the socket. This ensure that you don’t injure your hands in case you accidentally get your hands into the grinding while it’s spinning.

Step #2 – Manual Removal

Before making use of the plunger, use your hands and long pair of tongs or pliers to remove any visible substances.

With these tools and a flashlight, is possible to remove most of the substances that are close to the surface. The flashlight also gives you a clear view of grinding chamber so that you can precisely locate the clog. The pliers aids in pulling fibrous garbage that is stuck between the grinding components.

Step #3 – Plunge the Sink

A plunger uses suction and pressure to pull and push clogged garbage debris from drain pipes and other plumbing works. Here’s what to do.

Position the plunger directly on the drain such that the hole is completely covered.

Turn on the faucet and allow the water to cover the suction cup.

Pump up and down for about thirty seconds. As the water pushes through the spaces in the grinding chamber, it dislodges the stuck garbage debris and pushes them further into the drain.

Step #4 – Clean with Baking Soda and Vinegar

Plunging the garbage disposal can result in bad odor due to the oil and grease that has accumulated on surfaces over time. Thus it’s advisable to clean it with a drain cleaner that will get rid of the oils and grease. Not only does this minimize odor but it also eliminates the oil surfaces on which garbage can cling on.

Garbage disposal have delicate materials which can be destroyed by some chemical drain cleaners.

You can however use baking soda or a solution of baking soda and vinegar since they are safe for your garbage disposal. Follow these steps to clean the garbage disposal.

  • Make a solution using water, baking soda and vinegar one cup each.
  • Run some hot water down the drain.
  • Pour the solution into the drain, cover and let it sit for about five minutes. The solution reacts with hot water to create bubbles which cut through the greasy surfaces.
  • Finally, flush with hot water to push the clog further into the drain.

How to Prevent Garbage Disposal Clogging

The garbage disposal works by grinding different types of waste into small debris so that they can be flushed down the drain. However, not every type of garbage is good for the garbage disposal.

Some of the garbage in your kitchen is likely to cause damage to the grinding chamber or result in clogging. Such garbage should be destined for trash instead to being grinded in the garbage disposal.

Below is a summary of garbage you should avoid disposing off through the garbage disposal.

1. Cooking Oil

After deep frying your potatoes or chips, do not pour the waste cooking oil in the sink. The simple reason for this that is tends to stick on drain pipes and garbage disposal once solidifies.

The best way to dispose used cooking oil is to put it in plastic cups. Once it solidifies, then you can throw it then trash.

2. Bread Dough and Chewing Gum

Chewing gum and bread dough exhibits glue-like characteristics which make them dangerous for your garbage disposal. When they get into the grinding chamber they won’t be broken down into debris. Instead they will stick on surfaces and eventually clog the garbage disposal.

3. Fibrous Waste

Fibers from onion skins, artichokes, corn husks, lettuce, celery and other fibrous foods can get tangled in the grinding blades and therefore clog the garbage disposal.

4. Eggshells and Coffee Grounds

When they go down the drain, eggshells and coffee grounds tend to stick on the grinding chamber. Too much of this waste is likely to cause clogging or even become difficult to grind.

You can use eggshells and coffee grounds for compositing or dispose them in the trash.

5. Hard Substances

Hard waste materials are difficult to grind. Some of the hard waste to avoid include bones, fruit seed/pits, nuts, seafood shells among others.

6. Starchy Food Waste

The starch in potato peels and rice tends to form a thick and sticky paste which ends up clogging the garbage disposal.


Unclogging a garbage disposal doesn’t actually require expert knowledge. With the above guidelines and simple tools, it’s possible to get your garbage disposal back into operation by yourself.

Also worth noting is that you can minimize chances of clogging by keeping off certain types of garbage from your sink.

Related Articles

How to Fix Garbage Disposal Smell

How to Fix Garbage Disposal Smell

Recent Posts