Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: How to unclog a garbage disposal or sink drain
I'm only slightly amused that I planned to write a post with tips for using the garbage disposal right before I completely clogged ours! So much for all my fabulous garbage disposal success stories, right? :) Well, I hopefully my tips will still be helpful despite my sink being clogged last week. ;)
I love having a garbage disposal. It makes it so easy to scrape plates after meals (we do clean our plates, but there are often things like fruit peelings or seeds). I also like using the disposal-side of the sink for food prep. I can let peelings or egg shells drop into the sink as I work.
I took a picture of all my leftovers! Beans, rice, pasta -- all waiting to be turned into other meals (especially freezer burritos)! :)
Our current garbage disposal works really well, and over the past year of living here, I've gradually tried putting more and more things down it. In fact, there's probably not much that I haven't been able to feed into it, although I haven't tried avocado pits or watermelon rinds or corn cobs.
That said, it has still gotten clogged a few times for me. I know, what can I expect when I put in potato peelings, onion skin, lettuce trimmings, carrot peelings, banana peels, and everything else? Probably not the greatest idea ever. ;)
If you're "adventurous" in the kitchen like I am, or just have a garbage disposal that likes to clog, here are my tips for getting it unclogged!
If the clog is in the garbage disposal unit (blade area):
1. Unplug the unit (or turn off the breaker for power to it).
2. Use a flashlight to look down the drain. Sometimes you can see what's in there that shouldn't be.
3. Use a large tweezers -- or do what I do, which is use my hand (but remember the unit is unplugged!!!!) -- and carefully reach inside and pull out whatever shouldn't be in there. I've had baby spoons fall down there, and I've had to pull out mostly-pulverized banana peels. :|
Bonus tip: If your garbage disposal suddenly turns itself off, look on the unit for a little button that says "reset" and press it to turn it back on. Mine shut down one time and I wondered if I had broken it or something until I discovered that button! :)
If the clog is in the drain pipe, the garbage disposal blades will run, but the water won't drain out of your sink:
1. Try not to get it clogged in the first place. Put things down slowly, while running cold water. Putting too much in too quickly will clog it up fast. And really, banana peels don't do very well in the garbage disposal. ;) Don't assume that just because "it went down last time!" you can put whatever you want in the garbage disposal and it'll just go through.
2. If the garbage disposal gets clogged, keep running cold water and turn the disposal off and then back on to see if it will push the clog through. This works for small clogs.
3. A plunger works great for unclogging the garbage disposal. Plug the other side of the sink (if you have a double-basin sink), and the use the plunger on the disposal side. This has saved my sink from several pretty good clogs. If plunging on the clogged side isn't working, you can also try filling the other side of the sink with water and the plunging it through to help loosen things.
4. Drano (or Liquid-Plumr) really does work. Last week, I really, really clogged the garbage disposal. I tried plunging and nothing was moving. I mean NOTHING. Thankfully, the other side of the sink was still moving fine. I wanted to unscrew the pipe and clean it out, but Joshua got nervous when I started talking about messing with the plumbing, and got some Liquid-Plumr Gel at Costco. I was very skeptical. I mean, if my strong arm muscles and the plunger hadn't worked (and I'd tried several times over the course of several days...), I doubted that Liquid-Plumr would work. But, in less than 24 hours, it had completely cleared the clog! Tip: Scoop all of the standing water out of the sink, so the Drano can go in full-strength. (I know homeowners who don't like to use Drano, but for renters like us, it's an easy fix for slow-moving drains or clogs.)
5. If you don't want to use Drano (or don't think it will work), look under the sink and find the spot in the pipes where you believe the clog is located. If you have plastic pipes, you should be able to unscrew them and unclog the area. I found directions for doing this at lowes.com. (Be sure to scoop as much water as possible out of the sink before taking apart pipes, and have a big bucket ready to catch everything below!)
But as I mentioned above, we didn't end up needing to take apart any pipes. Another resource to try is a plumbing snake, which we used one time at our house in Ohio (before I got banned from using the garbage disposal after plugging up the pipes for the 3rd time...). ;)
To help maintain clean drains and pipes naturally:
Remove hair from drains (if you can see it/reach it).
Sprinkle baking soda in drains and then pour in some vinegar.
Flush drains with boiling water.
Doing that usually keeps our bathroom drains running great! :)
Our bath tubs in the last 2 rental places have had the push-down, push-up plugs and I finally figured out how to clean them: Unscrew the plug until it comes off (it takes a lot of unscrewing), and then you can reach the drain to pull out any hair. I have long hair so hair in the shower drains is something I have to keep on top of! :)
Do you have any drain or clog tips to add? I'd love to hear them! (Unfortunately I don't think this is the last time I will ever clog a drain...) :)
To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:
Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please!
In order to keep the kitchen tips more easily accessible, posts not adhering to these guidelines will be removed. We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)
Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!
1. Tip for rolling out pie crust (Willa at Armstrong Family Fare)
2. Tips for homemade breadcrumbs (Heather at Feel Good About Dinner)
3. 5 tips for substituting sweeteners (Adrienne at Whole New Mom)
4. Baking tip and garbage disposal tip (Rachel at Trial and Error Home Ec)
5. Single-serving freezer soups (Anna at The Joyful Wife)
6. Clean and re-use cheesecloth (Stacy at Stacy Makes Cents)
7. Chicken parmesan breading tips (Robin at Happily Home After)
8. Tips for spices (Georgia at Georgia's Cookie Jar)
9. Bread machine stand (Living So Abundantly)
10. Saving money on milk (Katy at Purposely Frugal)
11. Freezing smoothies (Michele at Simply Scaife Family Farm)
12. Substitute for double boiler (Amy at Amy's Finer Things)
13. Homemade bread tips (Jenna at Blessed Roots)
14. Cake tip and cooked corn tip (Kolfinna's Korner)
15. Salad in a jar tip (Newlyweds Blog)