During the holidays, you may spend a lot of time in the kitchen. You might use that time to prepare a large Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas breakfast for your family. Perhaps you put extra effort into decorating pies, cakes, and cookies to give to your neighbors. Or maybe you can’t wait to indulge in some single-serve recipes you discovered on Pinterest, Tumblr, or a similar site.

But as you increase your cooking, baking, and frying times, you likely increase your cleaning times, too. In your hurry to quickly clear away dishes and tidy countertops, you may rely more heavily on your disposal to cope with the mess.

Although your disposal can handle a lot of what you throw its way, this appliance might not be able to keep up with your seasonal flurry of scraps, trimmings, and peels. If you don’t exercise care, you may have a clog on your hands.

Rather than let a clogged disposal ruin your holiday cooking, take the following precautions as you stir, whisk, mash, measure, and scoop.

1. Scrape Pots and Pans Before Washing

If you have to cook meals for large groups, you may dirty more than a few pots and pans to feed everyone. Many of these pots and pans are too large for your dishwasher, and often times they’ll have too much grime clinging to their corners for ordinary dishwashers to effectively remove.

But don’t dump your dirty dishes directly in the sink to soak. Any fats, oils, and grease from your latest meal will quickly clog the disposal. And if you have bones, tough meat scraps, or large peels lingering on your dishes, you can bet that they’ll slow the blades to a grinding halt.

Before you wash any dishes by hand, thoroughly scrape food into the trash. Drain liquid oils and grease into an old, unrecyclable container and toss the container in the bin as well.

2. Invest in a Mesh Drain Screen

Spoons, forks, and knives have an uncanny knack for sliding into an open disposal. Although you don’t have to worry about these items falling too far out of reach, you may discover (too late) that metal utensils can break the disposal blades while flimsier cutlery will shatter into pieces that contribute to clogs later.

Of course, you can always perform a quick sweep with your hands before you turn on the disposal. But you risk cutting your fingers on the blades, and you can bet that the drain’s interior will have an unpleasant coating of unsanitary slime.

To save yourself the hassle and the risk, invest in a mesh drain screen. Many screens allow water to flow smoothly through your pipes while preventing larger items from entering your disposal. Better still, these screens will keep unwanted food particles out of your disposal if your holiday guests forget to scrape their
plates.

3. Run Cold Water With Your Disposal

When you have to clean after a large party, hot water seems like the most logical choice. Heat kills harmful bacteria and more effectively dissolves food.

However, hot water also keeps most fats, oils, and greases in a liquid state. When you run your disposal with hot water, the fats and oils will travel deep into your plumbing. As they cool, the fats will congeal into a thick paste that will build up along the sides of your pipes, resulting in hard-to-reach clogs.

For better results, run cold water before, during, and after disposal use. Cold water keeps fats and oils solid enough for your disposal to chop, and the resulting chunks will have a better chance of clinging to other food particles and moving down the pipes in one piece.

4. Feed Small Scraps Into the Disposal

Although garbage disposal speeds vary depending on the size and manufacturer, many disposal motors can reach speeds of 1,400 to 1,800 rotations per minute. As a result, they can quickly and continuously reduce peelings, rinds, shells, and skins to miniscule pieces within seconds.

But even high-powered disposals will struggle with large piles of Thanksgiving leftovers, Christmas scraps, or New Year’s leavings. If you turn on your disposal with more than a cup’s worth of solid waste sitting in the chamber, the blades may lack the strength to cut through the mess.

Ideally, you should throw away any large peels and rinds into the trash rather than your disposal. But if you have fruit and vegetable scraps that need to go down the drain, drop them slowly into the disposal rather than all at once. Chop particularly large pieces before adding them to the mix.

Did Your Drain or Disposal Clog Anyway?

When you follow these simple tips, you can keep your disposal clean and clear this holiday season. However, mistakes can happen at any time of the year, not just the holidays. If you happen to clog your disposal, reach out to a reliable plumber for drain cleaning services. The right plumber can effectively inspect, clean, and repair your disposal and recommend the best ways to avoid future clogs.