How To Unclog A Garbage Disposal In 9 Easy Steps

by Shawn Anderson | Last Updated:  June 13, 2020
Unclog Garbage Disposal

No matter how careful you are with your garbage disposal, a clog will usually arise. This clog mostly stems from the buildup of oil and fat in the disposal. It is only fair and wise as a homeowner to acknowledge this fact. Other than that, you too should prepare adequately for this eventuality as well.

That is where we have decided to come in. Our discussions today center on how to unclog your garbage disposal in 9 easy steps. We acknowledge that an ordinary homeowner may lack the skill necessary to do a better job. As you read through, you will also learn about the things you might do to prevent such clogs from worsening. 

Tools And Materials Required to Unclog a Garbage Disposal

Step-By-Step Procedures

1. Put on the right protective gears

Needless to say, your first step should always be putting on the right protective gears. In the course of unclogging your drain, it is not uncommon for some debris to be released. You do not want to suffer the consequences of this debris, do you?

The best protective gears for the job are a pair of gloves on your hands, face mask on your nose and an overall for your body. If you can, you might also put on some gumboots to protect your feet.

2. Cordon off the work area

Next, prepare your work area as well. You do not want to subject the members of your household to any issues, do you? You have to be certain that they are well taken care of. Inform them in advance of your intention to unclog your garbage disposal.

Tell them to make appropriate arrangements to find an alternative place to be at that time. On the actual day of unclogging your disposal, cordon off the work area. Mark the area clearly as ‘Works in Progress’ to let everyone know that the area is out of bounds.

Lastly, the work area has to be properly ventilated and well lit. The garbage disposal is always a hotbed of foul smell. This arises from the accumulation of wastewater and food particles. You do not want to contract respiratory disorders in the course of working your disposal, do you?

3. Switch off your electrical power supply

Now switch off the electrical power supply of your garbage disposal. Since garbage disposal handles water, there is a high risk of electrical shocks. You also would not wish that this happens to you. That is why you want to make every effort to stay away from it.

In case you do not find the switch, go to the main power panel of your home. Turn off the circuit breaker or remove the fuse altogether. This way, you will be sure that nothing wrong shall happen to you as you work the disposal.

If you switch off the power supply, you should be careful not to place your hands on the garbage disposal. Bear in mind that the switch may be effective. As such, it may still let in some current which may, in turn, predispose you to electric shocks. 

4. Inspect the garbage disposal

Having cut off the power supply, you now have to inspect the disposal visually. Simply take a look at the disposal and watch out for any debris. In case the visibility of the area is poor, you have to use a spotlight to shine the disposal.

While at it, be on the lookout for any debris such as food particles, large objects or rotten matter. Upon identifying any of these, get rid of them, using bare hands. You may also bring in a large stick and use it to lift off this debris.

5. Get rid of any objects at the top of the disposal

This now is the core of the entire unclogging exercise. Get rid of any objects which might impede the smooth flow of the water. Start at the top of the garbage disposal. If the debris is inaccessible, use some pliers to access those otherwise hard-to-reach areas.

Use your hands to feel around the disposal. In case you hear some grinding sound, that could signify the existence of an obstruction. Use your flashlight yet again to narrow in on this object. Then employ some pliers to pull it out gently.

If on the contrary, if you hear some electric hums, that could mean the existence of a small object in between the blades of the disposal. This object is often located deeper down the drain. You will have to employ some more technical steps to get rid of it. 

6. Inspect and handle the blades of the disposal

Move on now to the blades and rotating parts of the garbage disposal. Operate the garbage disposal manually to go about this issue. Get to the bottom of the garbage disposal. You will come across some hexagonal indentation.

Turn the blades back and forth severally. Use an Allen wrench or universal jam wrench to do this. Rotate the blades fully a couple of times. You will likely hear some obstructions in the course. Rotate the blades a couple of times. This will loosen the obstruction and make it easier to eliminate.

Stretch forth your hands to the back of the sink to access and pull it out. Some models are equipped with a reverse switch. When engaged, this switch accomplishes the said task well. Look to your manufacturer’s manual to know whether yours has that switch or not.

7. Disconnect the plumbing

Go ahead now to disconnect the plumbing mechanism of the garbage disposal. Locate the point at which the disposal is attached to the plumbing system of your home. Use some spanner to rotate the joints in the anti-clockwise direction.

Be slow and meticulous while doing this. Rushing too fast may pose some damages to your structure. This is the last thing you want to happen to you. You do not need to disengage the dishwasher. For a large part, it is never to blame for clogging in the disposal.

After disconnecting the plumbing system, run a wire brush through the pipe. If you encounter an obstacle, hit it hard severally until the debris breaks to finer particles. Then, pour some hot water to further dissolve and neutralize any residues. 

8. Re-connect the parts

Time has now come to re-connect the parts. Simply slot all the parts back just as you had dis-assembled them. If you choose to go it alone, you will have to rely extensively on your manufacturer’s manual. Follow the steps indicated there faithfully for best outcomes.

As a general rule, all parts must fit in smoothly and seamlessly. That is the only proof that all is well. Any incompatibilities will usually bring with it malfunctions, which are certainly harmful to you. It is at this stage also that you might consider replacing parts that are dilapidated or malfunctioning.

9. Test the outcomes

You are almost there! Before you proceed, you now have to test the outcomes. You will make do with the safety mechanisms of the garbage disposal here. Just like every other part of a home, the disposal also contains a couple of safety features.

These alert you of any existing dangers and let you solve them appropriately. In most disposals, these features come in the form of a rectangular button that is mostly red in color. You will find it at the bottom of your garbage disposer and close to the manual crank.

After piecing everything together, push this safety button in place. Note how the system responds to the button switch. Any adverse outcomes may signify some hidden problems. You will have to inspect the entire connection to find it out. Thereafter, address it appropriately.


Gaining the raw knowledge in and of itself is definitely not enough. You have to go beyond that and implement the information you have obtained in practice. How else can that happen without putting in place appropriate measures to that end?

As a good way forward, we suggest that you conduct some mock unclogging exercises. Pretend that your disposal is faulty. Proceed to gather all the parts, tools, and implements needed to do the job. Thereafter, follow the procedures we have spelled out above diligently.

For the best outcomes, you might also want to enlist the help of an expert. The expert should help you take on those tasks which are either complicated or potentially injurious. While at it, take care to observe how the expert goes about the issue as well. This way, you will be able to gain the necessary knowledge as well.

Given that you are not the only one in need of these skills, you want to pass this information to many others who might need it. Start out with your friends, relatives, inner circle and members of your neighborhood. We always love it when we hear from our valued clients like you.

When do you plan to launch out? Who else are you taking with you? Have you truly found our guidance above eye-opening?