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How To Unclog a Garbage Disposal

Updated on September 2, 2011
Unclog a garbage disposal safely
Unclog a garbage disposal safely

Although they are convenient appliances in the kitchen, sometimes it is necessary to unclog a garbage disposal. The blades on your garbage disposal are razor sharp and cut through most organic waste. However in a rush to get things done in the kitchen we sometimes place to much into the disposal at one time or place the wrong things into it resulting in clogs. Never stick your hand into the unit when you need to unclog a garbage disposal. Each manufacturer actually makes it pretty simple to unclog a garbage disposal.

Tools You Need:

Garbage disposal wrench

Allen wrench


Step 1

Go under the sink and unplug the garbage disposal power cord from the outlet. Most off-the shelf garbage disposals have a cord just like other appliances. If your disposal is hardwired into your home electrical system, go to your home electrical panel box and turn off the circuit breaker to the disposal.

Step 2

Look under the center of the garbage disposal unit. There is a hex head hole that manufacturers place to manually operate the blades to unclog a garbage disposal. Your unit comes with a special tool that inserts into the hex hole. If you do not have the special tool, grab an appropriate size Allen wrench.

Step 3

Insert the special tool or Allen wrench into the hex hole under the disposal. Turn the wrench clockwise and counterclockwise until you can turn the blades one complete revolution.

Step 4

Stick a broom stick into the drain and turn the blades, if the blades will not turn with the wrench. Sometimes things like potato peels become severely lodged under the blades. The pressure from turning the blade with the broom stick is enough to dislodge most debris and unclog a garbage disposal.

Step 5

Plug the garbage disposal power cord back into the outlet or turn on the circuit breaker. Look for the red reset button either on the side of the unit or on the bottom. Press it in with your finger if it is protruding from the unit. Disposals are equipped with this feature to shut off power when the blades jam to protect the motor from damage.

Step 6

Turn on the cold water and turn on the disposal to finish chewing through the debris. Once you unclog a garbage disposal, it is a good idea to sharpen the blades.

Step 7

Pour ice cubes into the disposal until they are 1-inch from the top of the sink drain hole. Turn on the cold water and the disposal. As the disposal chews through the ice, the ice sharpens the blades. Turn off the disposal when all ice is gone.


Never stick your hands into the drain to unclog a garbage disposal. The blades are razor sharp and cut through skin with ease.


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