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How to Unclog a Garbage Disposal with Standing Water

Last updated Nov 19, 2021

Posted in Plumbing

Garbage disposal is one of the most important appliances in the household. It allows us to clean up right after cooking. Plus, it makes getting rid of food scraps easier. However, since garbage disposals are exposed to different chemicals and substances every day, their quality decreases over time and they may not be reliable in eliminating wastes. This is one of the reasons people experience drainage blockages. But this is not the only reason why garbage disposals get clogged. Here are a few more.

Reasons Garbage Disposals Get Clogged

Inadequate Water

This is one of the most common reasons for clogging, insufficient water pressure while disposing of garbage. As claimed by Homengardening this makes it difficult for the appliance to work, especially when it’s working on harder and larger wastes. The water will act as a lubricant and flush the wastes down.

Potato peels

These are some of the most common culprits of clogged drains. When these reach the sink, they turn into a starchy paste, like the texture of mashed potatoes. If this happens, it makes them easier to stick to the pipes and drains, eventually clogging the system. This is why experts recommend getting rid of potatoes any other way, to protect the appliance from the residue it causes.

Eggshells and coffee grounds

Another thing that may clog your garbage disposal is eggshells and coffee grounds. When you grind these, they are broken down into small particles that can stick to your pipes. They can even get inside the machine of your garbage disposal and cause it to jam.

Banana peels

Many people think that disposing of banana peels through the sink is the best way to get rid of these wastes. Unfortunately, these are just as sticky as potatoes. The substance can stick into the pipes and may cause clogs.

Other things that may cause clogging include grease, animal bones, pasta, rice, and fruit seeds. To maintain your garbage disposal appliance and avoid clogging, dispose of these wastes differently.

Signs that your drainage is clogged

Now that you know what causes clogs in your drain, now it’s time to understand the signs. Thankfully, there are ways to detect whether your garbage disposal is having a hard time eliminating food wastes. This way, you can mitigate the issue before it becomes non-operational. So, without further ado, here are signs that your drainage is clogged or is starting to clog.

Humming sounds

One of the sure signs of drainage clogging is humming sounds. While you’re using it, you may feel it vibrating even if the shredder is not turning around as it should. If this happens, turn it off right away. If you let it run even with this humming sound, it can burn its motor which makes it difficult to repair. This can happen because the motor is still receiving power from the current and it’s sending it to the blades. And because the blades cannot move, the excess power can overheat your appliance.

Loud Grinding noises

This is another solid sign that your disposal is clogging. This means that your shredding blade is having difficulties in grinding the object or the food waste. This could happen when a toy accidentally fell on the drainage or the blades are trying to grind hard materials such as jewelry, fruit seeds, and many more.

Clanking sounds

When your disposal is clogged, you will often hear clanking sounds shortly after the disposal starts. And after a few seconds, they noise and the machine will stop. This is a strong sign that your disposal is jammed. Before you do something, make sure that the power’s off. Unplug the system to avoid accidents.

There’s a pungent or really bad smell

A stinky sink usually means that food wastes are stuck in your pipes. There are probably millions of bacteria that have grown under your sink as they decompose food wastes, which causes the stinky smell that could mask your surroundings. The longer you leave the food wastes inside your disposal, the worse it will smell. This is why you need to eliminate the blockage as soon as possible.

Unclogging your drainage

If you are experiencing some of the signs above, it may be an indication that your drainage is blocked and needs to be cleaned. To eliminate these blockages, you may need to clean them and eliminate food or debris in the pipes. The good news is you don’t need expensive items to do so. Most of the items you need for basic cleaning are already within reach. Here are a few ways you can clean and unclog your garbage disposal.

Ice cubes and water

If you’re asking how to unclog a garbage disposal with standing water, this method may be for you. One of the best ways to clean and unclog your drainage is using ice from your freezer and water. All you need to do is put a few ice blocks into the unit then turn the drainage on. Run some cold water while the cubes grind to loosen the debris and food trapped in the garbage disposal.

Ice and rock salt

If using ice and cold water is not enough, you could add rock salt to your drainage along with the ice and water. This will give you more scrubbing power to eliminate more stubborn debris that is stuck inside your pipes and your drainage.

Baking soda and vinegar

The next method you need to keep in mind is using baking soda and vinegar. This is one of the easiest and most convenient methods to clean your drainage as the ingredients are frequently found at home. All you need to do is sprinkle half a cup of baking soda into the disposal then add a cup of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. The mixture will then bubble up. Let it sit for five to ten minutes then turn the garbage disposal on while you run cold water to distribute the mixture and flush food and debris from the unit.


Another effective method to eliminate food and debris stuck in your garbage disposal is citrus. This is one of the best strategies to unclog your drainage, at the same time, it helps eliminate the odor brought by spoiled food.

For this strategy, you can use lime, orange, lemon, tangerine, or grapefruit. Be sure to cut the peels so they are small enough for the unit to handle. When you finally put the peels inside the drain, run cold water until the peels grind.


Borax has many uses and one of them is cleaning and unclogging drainage disposals. To use, all you need to do is sprinkle a few tablespoons of borax into your drainage. Then, run cold water for about 30 seconds to allow the borax to spread throughout your drain.

Hot water and dish soap

If you smell a foul odor coming from your garbage disposal, this is an effective method to clean it and eliminate the smell. To use this strategy, first, use a sink stopper to plug the drain. Then, add a couple of tablespoons of dish detergent into the sink. Put hot water into it until the sink is half full. After this, remove the sink stopper and turn on your garbage disposal. Let all the contents go down the drain while the unit runs.

This method will fill the disposal with soapy water to reach the upper portions of the unit which is unlikely to get cleaned by other methods. This strategy also helps clean the drain line which could harbor food residue, bacteria, and odor.

Boiling water

One of the simplest techniques to unclog and drain your kitchen pipes is using boiling water. Just pouring boiling water into your drain can help eliminate stubborn food particles and clean your unit.

Dish soap and baking soda

The last but not the least strategy to unclog your drainage is to use dish soap and baking soda. This method helps clean the crevices of your drain and the rubber splash guard around it. First, make sure to turn off or unplug your garbage disposal. Then, using a small brush or toothbrush, scrub the drain underneath the splashguard flaps.

Your drain needs to be cleaned regularly. Do not wait for residues to settle into your drain and garbage disposal unit. Schedule a weekly or biweekly clean, depending on your use. Do not wait for the signs of clogging, especially when you can prevent it.

There you have it. These are only some of the best and most convenient ways to unclog your drain. All of which you can do on your own because the tools you need are right around the corner.

Remember to always be careful when cleaning your disposal. When necessary, make sure that the drainage is turned off. You can also choose to use gloves to protect your hands from accidents. If you fear that the drainage is too clogged or too damaged to work, it’s best to contact a professional so they can assess the damage and do the repair.

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