A Beginner’s Guide to Operating a Garbage Disposal: Everything You Need to Know

If you’re like most people, you may not think much about your garbage disposal. Sure, it’s there to take care of the kitchen scraps and other bits of food that go into the trash can, but chances are you don’t know how it works or what sorts of things can go down the drain.

In this article, we’ll be discussing how to use a garbage disposal and some of the common problems that can occur. So whether you’re just starting your new kitchen appliance or have been using it for years without any problems, be sure to read on for helpful advice!

What are the Different Types of Garbage Disposals?

To run your Garbage disposals efficiently, you need to understand the model installed in your kitchen sink. They are broadly classified into continuous feed disposals and batch feed garbage disposals.

Continuous Feed Garbage Disposals

InSinkErator Badger
InSinkErator Badger 1/2 HP Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal

The most common kind of garbage disposal found in households is continuous-feed models. As the name implies, users can continually feed food scraps into the disposal instead of adding tiny amounts at a time. It grinds waste as long as the device is turned on.

With the flip of a switch, a continuous feed model starts up and continues until it is switched off. You can add food scraps while the garbage disposal is operating. Some types include auto-reverse capabilities, sophisticated grinding features, and jam-clearing circuitry. Splash guards are another feature that some units have to keep things from spilling while adding food waste to an already-running disposal.

With a continuous-feed garbage disposal, you can continuously add waste as you move along in meal prep or cleanup. Leave the switch on to grind waste as you go, or only turn it on when needed. You must, however, run cold water while the disposal is running.

Batch Feed Garbage Disposals

Insinkerator Disposal - Batch Feed
Insinkerator Disposal – Batch Feed

A switch does not control batch feed disposals, and they start running after you place the stop on the device. How to use: To start grinding, pour your food down and cover the aperture with the drain cover.

The construction of these units is more complex than continuous feed, and you do not need to install a switch or button to operate them. Items cannot unintentionally fall into the machine because of the stopper.

How to Use a Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal

Like most people, you may want to use your garbage disposal conveniently and make it last longer. You can follow a few easy steps to improve your experience and make your continuous feed garbage disposal work for you.

You probably don’t think much about your garbage disposal. You plug it in, turn it on, and maybe even forget about it until your kitchen starts to smell bad.

But your garbage disposal is one of the essential parts of your kitchen! It’s responsible for grinding food waste to be flushed down the drain. Here are some tips on how to use continuous feed garbage disposal properly:

1. Clear your counters before you start. Ensure there’s no inappropriate food waste or foriegn objects on the countertops or around the sink before you start. This will help avoid any accidents while you’re using the disposal.

2. Run cold water. Before turning on the power, run cold water for a few seconds. 

3. Turn on the appliance. The switch activates continuous feed cycles and is frequently attached to a wall outlet next to the sink. Locate the switch and flip it on. 

3. Start with small amounts of food. When you first turn on the disposal, start by feeding small amounts of food into it. This will help avoid any jams or clogs, and you can keep adding more while the appliance runs.

4. Don’t overload the disposal. Overloading your garbage disposal can cause problems like vibrations that can jam the blades and damage your appliance.

5. Clean the disposal after use. Once you’ve finished using the garbage disposal, it’s essential to clean it. Use a brush to scrub down the sides and inside of the disposal. Then run cold water over it to flush any food waste down the drain.

These tips will help you use your garbage disposal properly and avoid any problems. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact a professional.

How To Use a Batch Feed Garbage Disposal

There are a few steps to follow when using a batch feed garbage disposal:

Put a small amount of food in the disposal. The food waste is usually handled in batches of 3 to 5 cups. The smaller the piece of food, the less power it will require to grind it up. 

After filling the batch feed disposal, you may close the top with the stopper and push it down to activate the unit.

Remove the stopper once the grinding sound stops and the disposer comes to a halt. Repeat the procedure if there is still more waste on the ground.

How to Clean a Garbage Disposal

Garbage disposals are a great way to reduce your waste but can also be a dirty and smelly mess if not cleaned regularly. Follow these simple tips to keep your disposal clean and smelling great:

Clean the grinding chamber and all internal parts of the disposal every two weeks with a brush, old toothbrush, or plumber’s plunger.

If food remains in the disposal after being ground, add 1 cup of baking soda to 2 cups of water and pour it into the grinding chamber. Let sit for 30 minutes, then use dish soap with hot water.

Remove food particles built up on the garbage disposal seal by running cold water while running the device.

If your garbage disposal smells bad, it may be due to bacterial growth. Add 1 cup of vinegar to 2 cups of water and pour into the grinder. Let sit for 30 minutes, then use a dishwasher cycle with hot water.

The drain may be clogged if water is draining slowly from the disposal. Use a plunger to clear any obstruction.

If the disposal still does not work correctly, a plumber may need to replace it.

How to Troubleshoot a Garbage Disposal

If your garbage disposal is not working, you can do a few things to troubleshoot the issue. The first thing to check is whether the breaker that controls the disposal is turned on. If it is not, turn it on and check to see if the disposal is plugged in. If it is plugged in, check to see if the cord is plugged into a functional outlet and if not, try plugging it into an outlet that is working.

If none of these solutions work, there may be something wrong with the disposal itself. You can now check our article on How to Fix a Garbage Disposal to solve the problem.


Garbage disposals can be challenging, but with a bit of patience and instruction, they can become an essential part of your kitchen. If you follow the instructions in this guide, you can use your disposal without hassle. Be sure to bookmark this page so that you don’t have to search for instructions the next time you need to use your garbage disposal!

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