Having a garbage disposal can be very convenient when it comes to home cooking and getting rid of unwanted food, but they do require plenty of upkeep. It is important to keep your garbage disposal from rusting as this can cause it to be less effective or even stop working.
Here are five ways to keep a garbage disposal from rusting:
- Choose a stainless steel garbage disposal.
- Avoid scratching or denting.
- Clean your garbage disposal regularly.
- Use your disposal regularly to avoid rusting.
- Use lemon juice to prevent and help get rid of rust.
Let’s take a closer look at these tips for keeping your garbage disposal from rusting and how they help.
1. Choose a Stainless Steel Garbage Disposal
Stainless steel is a great option for garbage disposals because it is more resistant to rust than other options. Stainless steel contains chromium. When chromium is exposed to oxygen, it creates a thin layer of chromium oxide. This layer of chromium oxide is what protects stainless steel from rust and other types of damage.
The protective layer of chromium oxide is not perfect but will keep your garbage disposal from rusting quickly. This means that with proper care, it shouldn’t rust. But remember that having a stainless steel garbage disposal does not mean that you don’t have to keep it clean. With improper use, the layer of chromium oxide can wear off.
Once the protective layer has worn off, your garbage disposal will rust like normal steel. So, make sure you are following our rules for keeping your garbage disposal clean. This will help you avoid loss of chromium oxide and avoid rusting.
Make sure you avoid cleaning your garbage disposal with harsh scrubbing, as this will remove that layer that keeps rust away. Using a lot of cleaning chemicals can also cause stainless steel to rust. So, make sure you are careful how you clean your garbage disposal and what you use.
Keep reading if you want to properly clean your garbage disposal without using these harmful methods. Overall, stainless steel will give you an extra layer of protection from rust when well maintained. So, make sure you take good care of it when you have it.
2. Avoid Scratching or Denting
Especially with a stainless steel garbage disposal, scratching and denting can cause the protective layer of chromium oxide to wear off and create rust. So, it is important to make sure that nothing goes into the garbage disposal that can damage it.
We all sometimes drop things down the garbage disposal that aren’t supposed to be there. To preserve it and ensure it doesn’t rust, make sure you check for any objects before you turn it on. Every now and then, things like silverware or something else that shouldn’t be down there falls in; make sure you look for these before running them.
There are quite a few things that many people think can go down garbage disposals that really shouldn’t, and these things can cause scratches and dents. Things like pits of fruits and vegetables should be put in the trash can instead, as well as eggshells and corn husks (source).
Each of these things can cause damage to your garbage disposal. So, it is best to avoid anything that is tough or coarse.
The layer of chromium oxide on stainless steel is created by the chromium on the steel and the oxygen to which it is exposed. So, there is a good chance that the protective layer can come back if it is slightly damaged by a scratch. As long as chromium is left, it can form the protective layer again once it is introduced to oxygen.
This means that while you should be careful what goes down the garbage disposal, one wrong item isn’t going to ruin your disposal with rust. If scratching or damage of some sort happens, you should make sure to take proper precautions. Remove the item if it hasn’t already passed, and rinse the disposal very well.
After thoroughly rinsing the garbage disposal, make sure you give it plenty of time to dry out. Remember, the chromium needs to react to oxygen, which can’t be done effectively when it is wet. So, give your disposal plenty of time to dry out, allowing that protective seal of chromium oxide to reform.
3. Clean Your Garbage Disposal Regularly
Cleaning your garbage disposal can be tedious as there are many different methods out there, but certain methods can actually do more harm than good. So, we have compiled a few different ways to clean your disposal that will help you do it effectively and still prevent rust.
Remember that harsh scrubbing can cause damage to the protective layer, so it’s best to avoid heavy scrubbing as a way to clean your system. If you need to scrub something off of a blade or part of the system, it is recommended that you use something soft like a toothbrush.
While it is important to avoid harsh scrubbing, it is just as important to avoid using harsh chemicals on your garbage disposal. So, if some sort of cleaner is needed to really get your disposal cleaned, use gentle dish soap. This can help clean off any grease or debris left from your trash without damaging the steel.
If you want to use something along with the dish soap, you can use a toothbrush or another soft brush to spread the soap around and clean it. If the scrubbing would be too harsh for your teeth, then you may need to reconsider as it can strip away the chromium oxide.
Another simple way to clean your garbage disposal is with ice cubes. Put one or two cups of ice cubes in your disposal, then turn it on while running cool water. As the system breaks down the ice cubes, they will clean the system. This should be done regularly as it is a great way to prevent leftover residue from sticking to the blades, causing rust.
If these cleaning methods don’t work, there is another way you can keep the disposal clean. Sprinkle baking soda into it. You’ll want to use about half a cup. Follow this with a cup of white vinegar. Let this mixture sit in your garbage disposal for about ten minutes.
When ten minutes have gone by, rinse the mixture away with hot water. This will help get rid of any extra residue. It is also great for persistent smells coming from your disposal. If smells linger, try using a citrus fruit peel to help minimize it.
Overall, keeping your garbage disposal clean is very important. Whatever method you choose should be done regularly to avoid food just sitting in the disposal as that can cause rust. Keep it clean to help avoid both the rust and annoying smells (source).
4. Use Your Disposal Regularly To Avoid Rusting
While it is important to let your garbage disposal dry out often, it’s also important to use it regularly to keep the rust away. This may seem strange, but let’s talk about why both are important.
A dry garbage disposal has the chance of reforming any lost chromium oxide, and that is essential to keeping away rust. However, regular use is another very important part that can’t be forgotten when considering dryness.
Try to use your garbage disposal once a day or every other day, if possible. This will allow any built-up debris to be washed away with a new use. If you aren’t planning on using your garbage disposal for a while, then it should be cleaned freshly after its final use. So, if you plan on leaving your home for longer than a day or two, clean it before you go.
Regular cleaning and leaving your garbage disposal to dry works very well for those who aren’t getting wet regularly. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have that luxury.
It is believed that, on average, we use our kitchen sinks ten to 12 times a day. You can imagine how much higher that is for someone who cooks multiple meals a day (source).
Now, we know that every time we use the sink, we aren’t using the garbage disposal, but it gets wet whether we use it or not. That is ten to 12 times a day that we are getting it wet without running it. So, it is always a good idea to run it at least once a day to clear out any extra water or food that may have been missed during the day.
So, run the garbage disposal whenever you have food to dispose of rather than waiting until the end of the day or whenever you get around to it. Leftover food particles can cause buildup, which can rust over time.
5. Use Lemon Juice to Prevent and Help Get Rid of Rust
If some rust has already accumulated on your garbage disposal, it’s not too late to get it off. Whether you already have rust or just want to prevent it, lemon juice can get the job done.
Lemon juice is highly acidic, and it is one of the few acids that can actually remove rust. Lemons’ acidity is what makes them so useful for cleaning and dissolving a lot of difficult things like rust or limescale. Lemon juice reacts with both of these to help dissolve them from your surfaces.
What makes lemons perfect for garbage disposals is that despite their high acidity, they will not damage your disposal or pipes, like harsh chemical cleaning products. Whether you use whole lemons, lemon juice, or lemon peel, you can clean your garbage disposal and make your whole kitchen smell fresh.
Start with lemon juice. This should be squeezed into your garbage disposal directly and left to do its job. Leave it there for a few minutes and allow it time to dissolve existing rust. Next, run some water to wash away what the lemon juice helped clear off the blades.
If you want to put the entire lemon in the disposal, it won’t hurt. After squeezing the juice out of it and waiting a few minutes, slice the lemon into small wedges to allow easy passage. Turn the garbage disposal on and pass the slices through one by one. The rind of the lemon peel will help clean the rest of the residue off of the blades.
This will leave your garbage disposal freshly cleaned, free of rust, and smelling better than ever. This can be done periodically to eliminate any accumulated rust, but that isn’t all lemon juice can do for your garbage disposal.
Lemon juice and peel can also prevent rust from happening in the first place. So, this is a great option even if you don’t have any rust yet. Because lemon juice is so acidic, it will help dissolve remaining food particles on your blades as well. Without these leftover pieces, there is less of a chance that rust will accumulate in the first place.
Lemon juice will also prevent rust by dissolving it before it can spread. Rust tends to spread across your garbage disposal once it is there. Lemon juice can clean even the smallest amount of rust that you may not even notice yet.
So, using lemon juice can help with getting rid of and preventing rust. If you plan to not use your disposal for an extended period, it is best to use lemon juice last as it will stay active and prevent rust from forming while the garbage disposal is not in use.
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As a homeowner, I am constantly experimenting with making the structure of my house more energy-efficient, eliminating pests, and taking on DIY home improvement projects. Over the past two decades, my family has rehabbed houses and contracted new home builds and I’ve learned a lot along the way. I share my hard-learned lessons so that you can save time and money by not repeating my mistakes.