Home Improvement Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for contractors and serious DIYers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have a garbage disposal that had a shot glass fall in. It got ground up. The disposal got jammed; I unjammed it and now it makes a glass grinding noise because of the shards inside.

How do I clear the glass?

What do I need to do to fix this?

share|improve this question

10 Answers 10

up vote 15 down vote accepted

The easy way: remove the large shards with tongs. If you're having a hard time, cut up an old kitchen sponge, make sure it's soft (moist) and put it in the tongs as a bait for all the glass shards. They'll stick in the sponge just like they would your hand. Then, just hope that the small pieces will go down the drain with time.

The hard way: unhook the disposal (turn off the power first), take it outside, turn it upside down, and really work on it with a garden hose. Wear gloves and verify by operating it via the screw on the base to make sure you got everything before you take it back in. Don't do this anywhere someone would go barefoot.

share|improve this answer

The tong approach is good, and it is safe. Don't try with your hands. Ball up some duct tape with sticky side out and dob it around the bottom of the disposer. The smaller pieces will work themselves out with time. Putting some bread or other porous sticky organic material in there and running it will help gather the shards and pass them. Go easy on the water, so the bread will catch the glass before it dissolves too much.

share|improve this answer

I've used a warmed, peeled potato with good effect to pick up glass. Also if you can get a wet/dry shop vac in there you can attempt to use that to bring the pieces out.

share|improve this answer
Shop Vac worked a treat for me (Pyrex). Tried everything else but still no luck then tried the shop vac and heard it pop out the final piece. The shop vac I have made an almost perfect seal as well so it was really sucking. – If you do not know- just GIS Jun 21 at 1:45

I agree to use tongs (or large needle-nose pliers) to get the big glass shards. Then I would use a Shop Vac for the smaller bits.

Next, I would put a wooden broom handle down the disposal and work the blades back and forth a few times to shake loose any bits of glass that might be wedged. Shop Vac again.

Anything that is left by that point would be like grains of sand, and would probably wash through the disposal. Fill a pot or pitcher with water and dump it directly into the disposal. Repeat a few times. (Don't turn on the disposal during this. The idea is to get the glass out of there so the mechanism doesn't dull excessively while eating glass.)

Finally, run the disposal for a minute or two with a steady stream of water. Any tiny/stubborn bits that you missed should be ground to dust.

share|improve this answer
No need for the broom, most disposals that I've ever seen have a bolt on the base of the disposal that that can be turned to operate without power, and optionally in reverse to unjam it. Mine uses an allen wrench. – BMitch May 19 '11 at 20:28
My last disposal (a GE model) did not have the bolt. – user7116 May 20 '11 at 14:10
Mine (late 90s, not sure the brand) doesn't have a bolt. But yeah, if you have a bolt, that is usually better than the broom handle. – msemack May 22 '11 at 15:49

I used tongs but they only got me so far so I then used a spoon and butterknife to bring the smaller pieces to the center and used a dry swiffer sheet to grab the pile and repeated this until all was collected. Got it done in about 20 minutes and everything is working now.

share|improve this answer

I'm sure all of these may offer some relief but in my experience the best way to fix the issue it to locate the hex key at the bottom of the disposal. Stick an Allen wrench in it and turn it till the glass clears. The Allen wrench may only turn one way, it depends on where the teeth are but just work it back ad forth to grind the glass. I've tried this'd this and my disposal works better than ever. Best part is it only took a few minutes to clear up the issue. Hope this helps!

share|improve this answer
this is the correct answer to unjam a disposal :P thanks – Joran Beasley Dec 19 '15 at 0:54

Many garburator a do NOT have the screw underneath. I fixed mine that way but my neighbour had a Waste King (you have to free blades from top with wooden spoon or broom handle). I used a ball of silly putty to get the small pieces and freed the blades then pushed reset

share|improve this answer

Get an old rag, a rubber band and a knife. Put the rag over the knife and secure it with the rubber band. Next stick it down your sink and really move around whatever is in there. Afterwards I just used the hose on my vacuum to suck out the glass shards. Then my garbage disposal worked again.

share|improve this answer
Using a knife in this way is asking, nay pleading to end up with a terribly dinged up knife edge, and therefore a dull, dangerous knife. Or worse, you end up getting cut because of the way you are playing with the knife. Knives are made for cutting. Use them properly and safely. Surely you can find something better to stick down the disposal - maybe even a stick! – user558 Apr 19 '12 at 13:49

The vacuum thing works plus a little muscle. First, vacuumed out the glass from above, inserted the Allen wrench below and ground up the shards in the disposal until the disposal moved freely. Easy fix and sure beats calling a plumber.

share|improve this answer

I found this thread when I faced a similar problem: A baby-food jar had shattered inside the garbage disposal.

I saw all the advice above on using potatoes, sponges, shop-vacs, etc. -- but I am by nature lazy. I used my fingers to remove the larger pieces, and then I simply ground-up whatever was left. It's true that the disposal became jammed at one point, and I had to use the Allen wrench to unjam the disposal manually. Still, I was able to clear the glass with a minimum amount of effort. (In the interest of full disclosure, I did cut two fingers slightly when I was removing the larger pieces of glass).

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.