Water running into kitchen sink drain and into garbage disposal

Under the sink garbage disposal unit

When your garbage disposal is backing up and not draining, you may want to reach for drain cleaner as a quick fix. But can you put drain cleaner in a garbage disposal? Does it work, or will it damage the system? Here’s what our Las Vegas plumbers say about garbage disposal clogs, drain cleaning chemicals, and how to fix a clogged garbage disposal.

Why Do Garbage Disposals Get Clogged?

One question we get a lot is, “Why is my garbage disposal not working?” Generally, when our plumbing technicians get calls for a clogged disposal, it’s actually the kitchen sink pipes that are blocked up. If the garbage disposal itself is not working, there are a number of reasons that may happen, including:

  • Garbage disposal is jammed, preventing the blades from turning
  • Parts of the system are broken or need to be replaced
  • There is no power going to the garbage disposal
  • There is a leak in the system

When these things prevent your kitchen garbage disposal from operating properly, it’s easy for food and other debris to get stuck in the pipes. This scenario is usually when we hear a garbage disposal is clogged.

Have a plumbing emergency? Larkin Plumbing is ready to help 24/7! Contact us today to learn more.

Is Drain Cleaner Safe For a Garbage Disposal?

Another question we often get is, “Can you use Drano in a garbage disposal?” Drain cleaners like Drano are made with corrosive chemicals that can be harsh on plumbing fixtures when used excessively.

Drain cleaner manufacturers usually advertise that they are “tough” on clogs by breaking anything up that might be blocking your drain or pipe. However, the powerful ingredients that do this can also wreak havoc on your pipes and garbage disposal!

With prolonged or improper use of drain cleaner in your garbage disposal, it can start to break down the lining of your pipes, disposal blades, and other essential parts of our system. It’s crucial to carefully follow all drain cleaner directions and not rely on these chemicals as a long-term fix.

How to Unclog a Garbage Disposal Without Drain Cleaner?

Drain cleaners can provide short-term relief for clogs in your kitchen sink. However, you should be careful when using these chemicals with your garbage disposal. Here’s how to unclog garbage disposals without using harsh drain cleaners:

1. Plunge the Sink Drain

The first thing you can try to do to help remove a clog from your garbage disposal and pipes is to plunge the kitchen sink. If a small item is stuck and just needs a little help to move through the system, plunging can move it enough to knock it loose.

First, fill your sink with some water to help promote suction. Then, using a sink plunger (avoid using a toilet plunger in your kitchen!), fit the edges securely over the drain opening of your kitchen sink. Use some force to move the plunger up and down to try and remove the blockage.

plunging the sink drain

2. Use Boiling Water

Boiling water is actually an effective garbage disposal cleaner and a good way to address a clog that doesn’t damage the pipes. Many times, a garbage disposal will stop working because grease is stuck in the drain. Boiling water can melt the grease and help move it through the pipe, making it the best drain cleaner for grease without using chemicals.

Pour a full pot of boiling water down the drain, followed by hot running tap water to help flush out the melted grease completely. Just be careful to avoid burns when pouring the boiling water into the garbage disposal. Depending on how bad the blockage is, your sink may fill up with water and there could be a backsplash.

Related: Las Vegas Kitchen Sink Installation and Repair

3. Call a Professional Plumber

If you tried a plunger and boiling water but are still dealing with a clogged garbage disposal, it may be time to contact a plumber. You may have a clog further down the pipe that requires an expert hand to remove.

Professional drain cleaning services can involve a commercial drain snake, pressure washers, or other specialized equipment that will effectively remove the clog and get you back to working order in no time.


Fix clogged drains before they become major plumbing problems! Contact Larkin Plumbing for a FREE estimate today.

Tips to Prevent Kitchen Sink Disposal Clogs

The best way to fix a clogged garbage disposal is to prevent the clog in the first place! Here are some tips to keep your garbage disposal and kitchen sink free of clogs:

  • Never dump grease down the drain or garbage disposal
  • Avoid things that are not meant for the disposal system
  • Cut food waste into smaller pieces
  • Run your garbage disposal regularly
  • Always use cold running water while operating your garbage disposal
  • Occasionally grind ice cubes to help sharpen the disposal blades
  • Check the operating manual to see how to clean out garbage disposal

What can you put down a garbage disposal? Refer to your disposal’s operating manual to see what the manufacturer recommends you avoid.

Related: Why is My Garbage Disposal Not Working? 

Las Vegas Garbage Disposal Services at Larkin Plumbing

When DIY solutions aren’t cutting it with your clogged garbage disposal drain, Larkin Plumbing is ready to help. Our professional plumbing technicians have experience unclogging, fixing, and replacing garbage disposals quickly and with as little disruption as possible. If you need an experienced plumber in Las Vegas you can trust, call our team today to get a FREE estimate!