If you’ve ever had a clogged garbage disposal, then you know how frustrating it can be to try and get that thing unclogged. You may have tried everything from pouring some baking soda down the drain to using a plunger, and still, nothing seems to work. Here is how to safely unclog a garbage disposal.

1. Turn On the Garbage Disposal

The first thing you want to do is turn on your garbage disposal so it can run for a little while and try to clear out any gunk that may be in there. Some people think this is why they can’t unclog their garbage disposal because they haven’t turned it on yet.

2. Pour a Small Amount of Dish Soap Down the Drain

Pour a small amount of dish soap down the drain

Pour a small amount of dish soap down the drain

Pour a small amount of dish soap down the drain – just enough to cover the blades – and let it sit for about five minutes or so. You’ll want to avoid using too much dish soap because you don’t want foam building up inside the drainpipe as well as overflowing out of the sink. Once you’ve let it sit for a few minutes, then it’s time to run some more water down the drain and wait for the dish soap to begin working its magic. If you don’t want to use dish soap or worry about creating too much foam, try pouring boiling water down the drain instead. The steam should help loosen up any gunk that may be stuck in there and get your disposal running like new again.

3. Use a Plunger

If your garbage disposal is still clogged, use a plunger. It doesn’t always work, but sometimes they can push out whatever is blocking your appliance so that it can then grind it up without any issues. To use a plunger, fill the sink with enough water to cover the bottom of it. Once that’s done, then you’ll need to take that plunger and plunge away in the water repeatedly until whatever is clogging your disposal has been pushed out.

4. Use a Plunger with a Wooden Dowel

This is similar to the previous step when using a plunger, but you’ll add an old dowel rod from something around your house this time. Go ahead and fill your sink with water, so it covers the bottom of it, position yourself correctly when plunging, and begin repeatedly plunging until whatever is clogging the disposal has been cleared out.

5. Use an Old Rag

If step three doesn’t seem to work, then you can try using an old rag or towel to unclog your garbage disposal. If nothing seems to be working correctly, then it may be time to give up on your appliance altogether. The good news is that old rags are usually free, so there shouldn’t be much of a cost associated with trying out this method. Closely inspect your garbage disposal afterward to make sure there are no pieces of the rag sticking out that could cause more problems in the future.

6. Take Apart Your Garbage Disposal

If your garbage disposal is old, then it may be time to replace it with a new one, but first, you should take it apart so you can see what’s causing all of these issues. Sometimes it can be something as simple as a piece of food lodged between the drain and an outlet or even dirt buildup. If everything looks clear inside, try running some hot water through the drain to ensure nothing else will get stuck down there. If things still look good once you’ve taken apart your appliance, then maybe it’s time to take the plunge and buy a new one.

7. Use Baking Soda or Vinegar

If none of this seems to unclog a garbage disposal, try pouring some baking soda down the drain. This method may help loosen up any gunk that may be stuck in there so that your garbage disposal can do its job properly. Another bonus is that if you happen to have hard water where you live (i.e., high calcium levels), then the baking soda or vinegar should act as a natural cleaning agent and prevent any calcium buildup at your disposal.

8. Consult With a Professional Plumber

Finally, you may consult with a professional plumber to take a look at your garbage disposal. They’ll be able to check connections and see what might be causing the runaway appliance. Similarly, if you live in an area with hard water (i.e., high calcium levels), that can cause problems too. If all else fails, then it may just be time for a new one.

The above-discussed ways can help to unclog a garbage disposal. If these methods don’t work for you, then it’s time to call a plumber. A plumber will have the necessary tools and experience to manage this issue from start to finish. Try out different ways before calling in a professional because you can handle this easily at home.