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?

11 Answers 11


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.


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.

  • 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. Jun 21, 2016 at 1:45

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.


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.

  • 1
    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, 2011 at 20:28
  • My last disposal (a GE model) did not have the bolt.
    – user7116
    May 20, 2011 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. May 22, 2011 at 15:49
  • Even without the shop vac, this worked well. Tongs for the big pieces, then just flooding it with water one big pot at a time, waiting for each to drain. I flooded it multiple times without running the disposal, then a few more with it running, and it was clear in no time. When it got jammed, the broom handle (a random stick, in my case, b/c no allen wrench) worked well. Another gotcha to watch out for: if it's jammed and you keep trying to run the disposal and it just hums, but then eventually stops humming when you try, you probably need to press the internal circuit breaker on the bottom.
    – kevinmicke
    Dec 5, 2020 at 4:08

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!

  • this is the correct answer to unjam a disposal :P thanks Dec 19, 2015 at 0:54

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.


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.

  • 5
    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, 2012 at 13:49

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


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.


I have found that grinding up glass in a garbage disposal is actually good for the disposal. If I ever break a regular class I take the broken pieces and put in my disposal. It seems to sharpen the blades and I don't have any problems After.

  • I'd be concerned about creating a hazard for anyone who has to work on that plumbing subsequently. Not to mention that nothing should go down the drain that your septic system, or the municipal sewage plant, can't handle. (I've been told that the folks who run those plants hate disposals anyway -- fresh material messes up their chemistry.)
    – keshlam
    Sep 19, 2016 at 2:27

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).

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