Your garbage disposal is one of your most helpful household appliances, when it is working correctly. Most folks believe that sharp garbage disposal blades are a key element to keeping this appliance working well, but most folks don’t know that garbage disposals do not actually have blades. Disposals shred food (or anything else you put into one) with a ring of teeth-like shredders, but it is important to keep this shredder ring in good repair as well.

These shredding teeth can become dull with time. When this happens the disposal can start to clog and even back up. This can not only be annoying and a little bit gross, it can also become maddening as your appliance will become completely unable.


One of the best ways to keep this shredding ring in tip top shape is to prevent it from getting dull in the first place. Preventing a problem with an appliance is always easier and less-expensive than trying to fix something after a problem has occurred. To keep the shredding teeth in your garbage disposal sharp, don’t put certain items into it. Don’t put anything greasy into your disposal. Greases and fats are slimy and can leave behind a residue. This can stick to the teeth and make your disposal less able to shred the other foods you put down it. Over time these can completely stick to the small, spiny blades and make them useless. These things can also clog your pipes and could result in plumbing problems as well.

Fibrous foods like celery, asparagus, or banana peels can also be problematic. These take longer to grind up and often cannot be ground up completely. These may stay behind in your disposal longer, making it more difficult for the blades to shred other items placed into the disposal. This can quite often lead to a very smelly clog. Bones or shells are also not a good idea. These hard items may be too large for the garbage disposal to handle, which will definitely lead to a clog. They might also be too hard for the disposal to shred or break up, and these will be left behind in your disposal. No matter what you put down the disposal, make sure it is small. Break up any large pieces first. Big things could get stuck or block up the drain, resulting in a clog or a larger problem.

Sharpening the Blades

What we refer to as sharpening the garbage disposal blades is actually cleaning them. There is no way to sharpen these teeth, but a clean disposal runs more efficiently, making it seems like the shredding ring is sharper.

The most popular method to clean this rotating shredder ring is to put some ice cubes into your disposal, run cold water, and turn on the disposal for about a minute. This will clean the blades by knocking off any reside that is stuck to them, making them operate more efficiently. Some folks recommend including salt and a few slices of citrus fruit, complete with peel, to combat any odors that may be coming from your disposal.

Another great, and possibly more effective, way to clean you disposal is to put the stopper in the drain. You then fill the sink basin with hot, soapy water before pulling the plug, letting a rush of water fill the disposal. Then, turn on your disposal and the cold tap water, letting both run for several minutes to allow any build up from the disposal to flush out of the system.


While you can’t sharpen your garbage disposal blades, there is a lot you can do to keep your disposal well-functioning and free from clogs. By only putting small things into your garbage disposal and keeping certain things out of your disposal, you are taking an important preventative step. In order to keep your disposal in tip top shape, cleaning (normally called sharpening) can help you to avoid clogs, back-ups, disgusting odors, and other problems that can keep you from using and loving one of the most handy appliances in your home.