Is It Safe To Use Hot Water In A Garbage Disposal?

Garbage disposals are an invaluable modern convenience that are often taken for granted. They definitely make life easier, getting rid of uneaten food or cooking prep waste in a jiffy. But how many people actually learn the do's and don'ts of using a garbage disposal properly before flicking that magic switch? Probably not too many, considering the large number of people who seem to have questions about water use and their garbage disposals. Is cold water OK? Is it OK to run hot water? Can you dispose of ice in a garbage disposal?

Fortunately, we have the answers. According to Apartment Therapy, using cold water while your garbage disposal is running is essential. It helps to send everything down the drain smoothly. As a matter of fact, the outlet says you should start running the cold water before you turn on the garbage disposal, and continue running the cold water for at least 30 seconds after the last of the food waste is flushed away. Doing so helps prolong the life of your machine.

And ice cubes? Sure, you can safely grind them up, per The Rooter Works. In fact, ice cubes actually help to clean the garbage disposal, as the action of grinding assists in removing any sticky, hard-to-dislodge food residue. But what about hot water and the garbage disposal? Well, that requires a more nuanced answer.

Best practices for your garbage disposal

So here is the skinny on hot water and garbage disposals. As US Inspect notes, it's definitely OK to use hot water when cleaning. The best practice is to mix equal parts baking soda and white vinegar, then flush with very hot or boiling water. What's not OK is running hot water while you're grinding food in the garbage disposal. Per Apartment Therapy, running hot water with food will cause build-up and eventually clog the machine.

What is it about hot water that causes problems when it's run with food waste? As The Pink Plumber succinctly states, "In the case of garbage disposal care, hot water is its arch enemy." The reason why is because hot water turns grease and/or fat less viscous, allowing them to make their way down the drain. Only, once the hot water stops flowing from the tap, the grease and/or fat cool down and harden, which can lead to clogged pipes.

So now you know. Don't do it. Run cold water only when disposing of food waste in your garbage disposal. Save the hot water or ice cubes for cleaning later.