I have an in sink errator garbage disposal. It came with the house and I have no idea what was done to it before I owned it.

I do not put large things down the disposal. Just occasional gross things from the sink. The disposal seems to plug up all the time. Water backs up into the sink. Cycling the disposal switch for less than a second will unclog it.

The clog is only happening in the garbage disposal. The water only backs up in the one sink and not both. What makes it annoying is that the dish washer is connected to the garbage disposal and when it's running it will sometimes fill the sink.

Is there something common that will plug the disposal? Is there a way to clean it out really well?

  • It needs to be cleaned out. Sometimes a blockage develops inside. Recently I serviced one that had similar symptoms and found a dish washing cloth in the discharge tube. Customer had already purchased a new unit which I installed but the old one probably still had some years of life left .
    – Kris
    Feb 13, 2021 at 15:43

3 Answers 3


In general, you should keep running water and the disposal for at least 10 seconds after it sounds like all the stuff you are disposing has gone through to rinse things clear. If you have not been doing that, that may help. Depending what your dishwasher is putting out, debris may be piling up against the grinder screens, especially if you use the disposal infrequently, since "the clog always clears up in less than a second of running the disposal."

Run the disposal when the dishwasher is draining - not "for just a second" - through the whole drain cycle (run hot water into the sink as well) to help clear it out. Not the whole wash cycle, just when the dishwasher is pumping out. The extra volume and dishwasher detergent should help clear things up.

In a different direction (can be noisy) run cold water, fire up the disposal, and dump in ice cubes - which can help to clear build-up off the blades and mechanically clean things up.

If you'd rather not get into tearing it apart (or you'd like to exhaust all avenues before you do) a third option is to plug the drain, run the sink full of hot water, and dissolve a good bit of baking soda in the water, then unplug & run that through and let it sit, without rinsing or running more water for several hours or overnight. The less hazardous end of drain chemicals...turns grease to soap. But so does most dishwasher detergent, so it may not do much more than the first approach.


There is a partial obstruction in the disposer's drain piece. To clear it remove the section of pipe that is bolted to the disposer.This is usually a 90 degree bend fitting which large solid items (pits, bottle caps, glass, etc) can become wedged.

Clear the blockage and re-install the fitting. Running hot water while the disposer is on helps open any drain section where sludge may have accumulated. Vinegar will clean and disinfect the internal areas and baking soda will neutralize odors.


Watch how much stringy things you put down the disposal. Anytime my wife puts a large amount of lettuce or cabbage leaves into it, ours plugs up.

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