Drains and Plumbing

How to Clean a Garbage Disposal

The good news is that it's possible to remove the smelly gunk from your disposal and to prevent it from recurring. The bad news is that it's going to take a little actual plumbing to clean it. Start by finding a test cap that plumbers use to do pressure testing. The cap is made of rubber and has a band made of steel that you can tighten to close the cap around a pipe. The disposal pipe you need to close off is 1.5 inches in diameter, but you can use a test cap with a 1.25 inch diameter.
Start by putting a bucket under the drain and then disconnect the pipe that goes from the disposal to your drain. Seal the disposal drain with the test cap so that water can't run through into the bucket below (it's there just in case you don't get the clamp on tightly enough). Fill the sink with hot water from the tap until the disposal is full and the water comes up to the top of the sink strainer, then add a half a cup of powdered oxygen—not chlorine—bleach to the disposal. This is very important—if you add chlorine bleach, you can damage the disposal and even yourself. Oxygen bleach is safe for use, even if you're on a septic system. The bleach will break down the junk on the sides of the disposal and drain. Leave it sitting for an hour to work.

At the end of the hour, open the test cap and let the water from the disposal pour into the bucket. Next, reconnect the disposal, and once it's in working order, stop up the sink, fill it up with warm water and some dish detergent, and turn on the disposal. That will finish washing out any remaining gunk and effectively clean out the disposal.

Preventing Disposal Stench by Regular Maintenance
The best way to prevent a stinky garbage disposal is to use plenty of water when running it, and then to follow up the garbage grinding with a serious dose of soapy water. When you're done running the disposal, stop up the sink and fill it 2/3rds with warm water and a good splash of dish soap. Take out the stopper and turn on the disposal, letting the soapy water whirl through the machine. Washing out the disposal like this on a daily basis will keep slime from building up on its walls and hardening into something permanently smelly. The other plus side to washing out your garbage disposal is the way it flushes out kitchen drains with hot, soapy water, preventing clogs from bacon grease, bits of eggshells, coffee grounds and the other various things that find their way into the drains on a daily basis.

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Natural Drain Cleaner for Clogged Drains

The first thing you need to know before working on a clogged drain is that the drain cleaners you see advertised on TV or on the supermarket shelves are made of dangerous chemicals that will eat through rubber gloves, skin, certain kinds of pipe, wood and anything else they touch. If their fumes are inhaled, they can cause damage to the lungs, nose and mouth. If they are eaten, they will kill, even in small amounts. Even when they are used "properly", they can ruin septic systems, pollute groundwater, and destroy pipes.

For a more healthy and safe alternative, try a natural drain cleaner, such as Drainbo, that is made from natually occuring bacteria that will fix a clogged drain, but won't hurt your drain pipes or the environment.

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