Do you have to empty a garbage disposal? A Helpful Answer

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Do garbage disposals need to be emptied? If they do, we've done something wrong.

Do garbage disposals need to be emptied?

This question comes up for people who might be unfamiliar with garbage disposals, who might be owning and/or operating one for the first time. 

I'll provide the simple answer to this question, then move onto more detail for those wanting to get into more of the nuanced aspects of how garbage disposals work. To preface, one of the most beautiful and desirable aspects of a garbage disposal is that it does not need to be emptied. 

Do garbage disposals need to be emptied? The Simple Answer

No. Garbage disposals do not need to be emptied.

Unless you have some kind of a clog or operational/mechanical problem with the device, a garbage disposal should never have to be emptied. Instead, food waste gets ground up and sent out with water, which should be running while the garbage disposal is in use.

This means the garbage disposal will never fill up, assuming it is running properly.

The Beauty of Garbage Disposals

One of the most attractive reasons to buy a garbage disposal is that it saves you from having to bag up food waste and empty it, like you would in a trash can.

Because it's not a holding container for the food waste. It's the mechanism that actually removes it.

Garbage disposals simply grind the food up so small that it can travel out of your house through you water line and into the sewer system. This helps prevent your trash from smelling as bad and makes cleanup a lot quicker.

Read more: 5 ways a garbage disposal can make your life easier

Overall, it makes your kitchen dramatically more functional.

Clogs and Waste Getting Stuck

The only time I can envision you having to do anything that resembles emptying your garbage disposal would be if something gets stuck or there is some kind of clog. 

Here are some items that typically clog up a garbage disposal:

  • Fibrous vegetables
  • Fruit pits and rinds 
  • Chicken bones
  • Fatty meats
  • Unnoticed silver wear getting stuck in the drain 

Your garbage disposal's ability to avoid clogging will depend on the HP rating and speed of the motor. The higher these specs are, the more powerful your disposal will be.

Read more: What HP garbage disposal should I buy?

The most common "clog" I've run into is getting a piece of silver wear stuck in the garbage disposal, which quickly makes a ton of noise - sometimes even some sparks - and can be quickly remedied by removing the offending utensil.

In terms of food waste getting clogged, I've found that to be extremely rare.

No Worries About Emptying

For the most part, you have nothing to worry about when it comes to your garbage disposal staying clear and empty. If you want to clean it, you can pour boiling water down the drain or run some whole ice cubes through the disposal.

But emptying it should not be necessary at any point.

Let the garbage disposal do that work for you.

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