How to Take Apart a Garbage Disposal Safely and Easily

A person in safety gloves holds a wrench in a clean kitchen for DIY home improvement photography.

Having trouble with your garbage disposal and thinking of dismantling it yourself? It’s a fact that most malfunctions in these hardworking appliances can be fixed by simply taking them apart and cleaning them out.

This comprehensive guide is here to walk you through the steps on how to take apart a garbage disposal safely and easily, saving you from unnecessary plumber costs. Ready to get your hands dirty? Stay tuned!

Key Takeaways

  • Disconnect the power by turning off the main breaker and unplugging the garbage disposal.
  • Gather necessary tools like a wrench, screwdriver, pliers, and tongs for disassembly.
  • Safely remove the garbage disposal by loosening attachment rings and disconnecting electrical connections or hoses.
  • Replace the sink drain and install new drain pipes if needed using a wrench, screwdriver, plumber’s tape, and new pipe.
  • Troubleshoot issues with the garbage disposal like checking for power, resetting it, clearing blockages with a hex wrench or tool, and checking for leaks.
  • Clean your garbage disposal regularly by cleaning the splash guard with dish soap or baking soda/vinegar mixture and removing visible food debris.

Important Safety Considerations

To ensure your safety when taking apart a garbage disposal, start by disconnecting the power and gathering all necessary tools and materials.

Disconnecting the power

First, turn off the power. Find your home’s main break box. Flip the switch for the kitchen. This keeps you safe from shocks when you work on the garbage disposal. Then, go under your sink.

Unplug the cord from the socket below it. Now there’s no power going to your garbage disposal!

Gather tools and materials

To safely and easily take apart a garbage disposal, you will need the following tools and materials:

  • Hex wrench
  • Screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Wrench
  • Tongs
  • Voltage detector
  • Dish soap
  • Sponge or brush
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Frozen orange or lemon peels

Step-by-Step Guide to Taking Apart a Garbage Disposal

To safely and easily take apart a garbage disposal, follow these step-by-step instructions: disconnect the power, gather your tools and materials, remove the garbage disposal unit, replace the sink drain and install new drain pipes if necessary, troubleshoot any issues with the disposal.

Removing the garbage disposal

Removing a garbage disposal can seem daunting, but with the right tools and steps, it can be done safely and easily. Here’s how:

  1. Start by unplugging the power and turning off the drain line to ensure safety.
  2. Use pliers or a wrench to loosen the attachment ring that connects the disposal to the sink drain.
  3. Once loosened, twist the disposal counterclockwise to remove it from the mounting bracket.
  4. Disconnect any electrical connections or hoses attached to the disposal, being careful not to damage them.
  5. If there is a dishwasher connected, detach the pipe connecting it to the side of the disposal.
  6. Carefully lower and remove the garbage disposal unit from under the sink.

Replacing the sink drain and installing new drain pipes

To replace the sink drain and install new drain pipes, you will need the following tools and materials:

  • Wrench
  • Screwdriver
  • Plumber’s tape
  • New sink drain pipe
  1. Turn off the water supply to the sink and shut off the main water valve.
  2. Use a wrench to loosen the nuts connecting the old drain pipes from the sink.
  3. Disconnect the drain pipes from the sink by unscrewing them with a screwdriver or using pliers.
  4. Remove any remaining water in the pipes by placing a bucket underneath before disconnecting them completely.
  5. Clean out any debris or gunk from the sink drain hole to ensure a smooth installation of the new drain pipe.
  6. Apply plumber’s tape around the threads of the new sink drain pipe to create a watertight seal.
  7. Attach the new sink drain pipe to the bottom of the sink by threading it into place and tightening it securely with a wrench.
  8. Connect any additional sections of drain pipe needed to reach your existing plumbing system, ensuring they are securely tightened with a wrench.
  9. Turn on the water supply and check for any leaks around the connections.

Troubleshooting the garbage disposal

If your garbage disposal is not working properly, here are some troubleshooting tips to help you fix the problem:

  1. Check for power: Make sure the garbage disposal is plugged in and that the circuit breaker hasn’t been tripped.
  2. Reset the disposal: Locate the reset button on the bottom or side of the garbage disposal unit. Press it to see if this resolves the issue.
  3. Clear any blockages: Use tongs or pliers to remove any visible food debris or foreign objects that may be causing a blockage in the disposal.
  4. Unclog with a hex wrench: Insert a hex wrench into the attachment ring hole at the bottom of the disposal. Move it back and forth to dislodge any obstructions.
  5. Turn manually with a tool: If the flywheel is stuck, use a wooden spoon handle or similar tool in the flywheel turning hole at the bottom of the unit to rotate it manually.
  6. Check for leaks: Inspect all connections and seals for any signs of water leakage around or below the sink. Tighten any loose connections.

Cleaning and Maintenance Tips

To keep your garbage disposal in top shape, regular cleaning and maintenance is essential. Clean the splash guard by wiping it with a cloth soaked in warm, soapy water. Remove visible food debris from inside the disposal using tongs or pliers.

For a deeper clean, pour baking soda followed by vinegar down the drain and let it sit for 10 minutes before rinsing with hot water. Grinding up ice cubes and salt can help dislodge any stuck particles, while grinding lemon peels will freshen up the unit.

Cleaning the splash guard

Cleaning the splash guard of your garbage disposal is an important step in maintaining its cleanliness and preventing any unpleasant odors. To clean the splash guard, start by turning off the disposal and removing any visible food debris using tongs or pliers.

Then, scrub the guard with dish soap and a sponge to remove any remaining dirt or grime. If there are stubborn stains or buildup, you can use baking soda and vinegar to help break it down.

Simply sprinkle some baking soda on the guard, followed by pouring vinegar over it. Allow it to fizz for a few minutes before scrubbing it again with a brush or toothbrush. This method will not only clean the splash guard but also deodorize your garbage disposal.

Removing visible food debris

To remove visible food debris from your garbage disposal, start by turning off the power and disconnecting it from the drain line. Then, use tongs or pliers to carefully reach into the disposal and remove any large pieces of stuck food.

Make sure to avoid using your fingers to prevent injury. Once the larger pieces are removed, you can scrub the inside of the disposal with a brush or toothbrush to clean off any remaining residue.

It’s important to be thorough in cleaning out all visible food debris to prevent clogs and keep your garbage disposal functioning properly.

Using baking soda and vinegar for cleaning

You can use baking soda and vinegar to clean your garbage disposal easily. Start by turning off the disposal and cleaning the splash guard with dish soap and a sponge. Then, pour half a cup of baking soda down the drain followed by one cup of vinegar.

Cover the drain with a stopper or cloth and let it sit for about 10 minutes. After that, run cold water while you turn on the disposal to rinse away any remaining residue. This method helps remove odors and keeps your garbage disposal smelling fresh.

Grinding up ice and salt

To keep your garbage disposal clean and odor-free, try grinding up a combination of ice and salt. The ice helps to remove any food particles stuck on the blades, while the salt acts as an abrasive to scrub away residue.

Simply pour a cup of ice cubes into the disposal, followed by half a cup of coarse salt. Turn on the cold water and run the disposal for about 30 seconds. This method helps maintain your garbage disposal’s efficiency and freshness without using harsh chemicals or cleaners.

Grinding up lemon peels

Grinding up lemon peels is a simple and effective way to remove food buildup on the blades of your garbage disposal. The natural acids in lemon help break down grease and eliminate unpleasant odors.

To do this, cut the lemon peel into small pieces and put them into the disposal. Then, turn on the cold water and run the disposal for a few seconds. This will help clean the blades and leave your garbage disposal smelling fresh.

Just remember to never put whole lemons or large chunks of citrus fruit into the disposal, as they can damage it.

Reassembling and Reinstalling the Garbage Disposal

To reassemble and reinstall the garbage disposal, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure the mounting bracket is securely attached to the bottom of the sink.
  2. Place the rubber gasket on top of the bracket.
  3. Align the disposal unit with the gasket and bracket, ensuring that it is centered.
  4. Insert the mounting ring onto the disposal unit and rotate it clockwise until it is hand – tightened.
  5. Use a screwdriver or wrench to tighten the mounting ring further, if necessary.
  6. Reconnect the electrical wires, following any manufacturer instructions or diagrams.
  7. Attach the drain pipes back onto the disposal unit and tighten them with a wrench.
  8. Turn on the water supply and check for any leaks around the connections.
  9. Plug in the power cord and test the garbage disposal by running cold water and grinding some food waste.


Taking apart a garbage disposal can seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and safety precautions, it can be done safely and easily. By following the step-by-step guide and using proper cleaning techniques, you can keep your garbage disposal running smoothly for years to come.

Remember to disconnect the power, gather your tools, and take your time during the disassembly process. With some patience and care, you’ll have that pesky clog or broken part fixed in no time! So go ahead, tackle that garbage disposal project with confidence!


1. What are the steps to remove a garbage disposal?

To remove a garbage disposal, you first need to grasp the screwdriver handle and use it as leverage. Then carefully disassemble the unit, including removing the impeller plate.

2. What safety precautions do I need to take when disassembling a garbage disposal?

Ensure that the unit is not hooked up to power before you start dismantling it. Always wear gloves for your safety during this process.

3. Can I clean my clogged garbage disposal by taking it apart?

Yes, cleaning out a garbage disposal often involves unclogging it by safely emptying its trap and clearing any blockages from inside.

4. How can I fix a broken garbage disposal using safe methods?

You should follow proper troubleshooting steps which might include removing your unit permanently or simply taking it apart for maintenance needs.

5. Do these instructions also work in case of basement remodel scenario involving my Garbage Disposal Unit?

Most certainly! The tips provided here on easy removal or unclogging malfunctioning units would be just as useful even if you’re remodeling your basement space.

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