How to best care for your waste disposal unit

Waste disposers—otherwise known as trash compacters or garburators—are an efficient way to keep your kitchen free of rotten smells that may otherwise collect in the bottom of your garbage can or, even worse, your refrigerator. Your waste disposal unit sits comfortable below the sink, where it is able to shred food to then be passed through plumbing. Although at first your waste disposer may appear to be indestructible, there are certain steps every home-owner must take to ensure their unit is properly maintained.

Keep hard objects out of reach. Try to avoid shredding food with hard shells or bones. These items can dull your shredder and make it less effective. Small hard objects are also a risk as they can get stuck and jam the rotating parts. Each waste disposer has its own capacity for hard objects, varying by model and brand. Check the instruction manual for specific objects to avoid. Common harmful items include: hard shells from shrimp, crab and other shellfish, unpopped popcorn kernels and tough bones.

Avoid fibrous or starchy items. These types of items can cause stubborn drain blockages (fibres get tangled and starches get thick). The following items should be disposed of in minimal increments (preferably cut into small pieces), or not at all: banana peels, celery, potato peelings, corn husk or cobs, artichokes, coffee grounds, fruit pits and hard seeds, onion skins and egg shells. All of these items are easily composted.

Run cold water while the disposal is on. Keep both the disposer and water running for 30 to 60 seconds after the waste matter has cleared your drain. The waste still has a distance to go and cold water will keep the motor, bearings and shredder from overheating. The water also helps push down the waste. Do not use hot water because it can melt fat and allow it to re-solidify as blockage further down the drain.

Clean your unit regularly. Wipe down the inner side of the rubber in the centre of the sink with paper towel often (ensure the unit is turned off first). When running the unit, throw some ice down once in a while to knock off any debris build up (be sure to run cold water at the same time). For even better results, make special cleansing ice cubes from pure lemon juice or vinegar. Also, periodically dispose slices of orange peels, or any citrus rinds, to keep your disposer smelling fresh.

For more tips on how to use your appliances to their fullest, visit www.scratchanddent.ca or stop by the store at 407 Gage Avenue, Unit #4 in Kitchener. A friendly staff member would be happy to help you or take your questions at 519-743-3623.