How to Unclog a Kitchen Sink with a Garbage Disposal


The holidays are coming and though this holiday season will be a bit different than season’s past, two things remain the same. Rich, holiday foods clog drains. Regular maintenance and clearing opens them back up.

Home for the Holidays

Many of us have been keeping in contact with family and friends via phone, Zoom, and email, and one thing I keep hearing people say is that they will be spending time with “close” family this holiday season. Families are choosing to stay home, skip their annual travel plans, and enjoy meals at home within their small family pods, due to the shelter in place restrictions during the pandemic.

Working from home has also resulted in higher use of our home amenities. People are tackling home repairs and starting renovation projects. The need for reliable home maintenance tips has grown exponentially as people learn DIY fixes for problems around the house.

In this article we will discuss how to unclog a kitchen sink and garbage disposal. Hopefully this will prevent you from being stumped with no plumber on Thanksgiving Day – in the middle of preparing your family’s favorite dishes.

Common Causes of Garbage Disposal Clogs

What most frequently causes clogs in your garbage disposal? Well, if you’re a holiday baker, you know that some of the main ingredients in your cakes and pies are enemy number one to kitchen drains. Putting things like eggs, flour, sugar, and butter down the drain can quickly ruin your annual bake-off with big sister. Likewise, accidentally dropping objects into the disposal is common and can cause things to get tricky until the blockage is

It’s easy for a garbage disposal to get clogged with tough foods like cobs from corn or pits from avocados, and grease and gunk like coffee grounds; especially if you’re not running enough water to ease it’s passing through the blades. If you haven’t given your disposal a good maintenance cleaning, you could see reduced function and performance over time as well.

You’ll want to remember to consult your owner’s manual before attempting a fix; and make sure you unplug the disposal to ensure top safety. If you follow these steps, they should have you free and clear in no time.

Steps to Clear Your Garbage Disposal

  1. Make sure the disposal is switched off and all movement has stopped.
  2. Investigate the inside of the drain opening using a flashlight to see what’s causing the clog. Do not stick your hand in the drain opening.
  3. Push the end of a wooden probe (like a broom handle or a large wooden spoon) up against the impeller (the blades that grind the garbage) and rock it back and forth to free it. Repeat this step until the blades are clear and free.
  4. If after several attempts, you are unable to free the clog, try a wide mouthed plunger. Place it directly over the drain opening pushing and pulling in a steady rhythm until the clog releases. A sludgy popping sound should indicate the release.
  5. Once the blades move freely, wait about 20 minutes to make sure the blades are cooled down from the activity.
  6. After 20 minutes have passed, reconnect the power and press the reset button.
  7. Run the disposal with hot water adding a natural cleanser to help remove any remaining sludge or caked on food.


And that’s it! It’s a simple fix to a common problem. If you tried this method several times and you still aren’t able to get your disposal clear, you may have a more complicated issue to deal with. Call your general plumber to come and check it out.

If you’re unsure about repeated problems with your drains and you think you may have a bigger issue, call Pipe Spy for a sewer diagnostic. A quick call could save you time and money this holiday season.