Expert Shares Tips for Cleaning Garbage Disposals, Drains, and Pipes

  • Fiona Mills is a former hoarding technician and current franchise business coach at Spaulding Decon. 
  • Mills, 32, shared advice for cleaning pipes and keeping garbage disposals running smooth.
  • She suggested using baking soda, white vinegar, salt, and ice to clean a garbage disposal. 

Last December, a TikTok video shared by @Jettsetfarmhouse sparked a discussion about how to clean garbage disposals properly. The 39-second video showed ice, salt, baking soda, and, finally, lemon gradually being dropped into a garbage disposal as the TikToker meticulously scrubbed — prompting some to applaud the method while others swatted it down. 

Insider spoke with Fiona Mills, a former hoarding technician and current franchise business coach at Spaulding Decon, about how best to keep pipes, drains, and garbage disposals pristine. 

Mills, 32, has previously shared cleaning hacks for a spotless home, bathroom cleaning tips, and her go-to cleaning products.  

Mills said grease and coffee grounds are absolute no-no’s when it comes to pipes

Plunger going into a clogged sink.

Things like grease, oil, and food shouldn’t go down the drain, Fiona Mills said.

Catherine Falls Commercial/Getty Images


According to Mills, pipes are prone to build-up over time and some things should never be tossed down the drain.

“Never put coffee grounds – they do tend to stick to the pipes and increase your risk of clogs,” Mills said, adding grease, oil, food, and paint. She also noted that just because an item says “flushable” doesn’t mean you should flush them. 

“Enough of the item down the pipe will cause it to clog at some point,” she said. Mills continued that bathroom sink pipes can get “pretty nasty over time.” 

“You can always remove the PVC elbow pipe from under the sink,” Mills said in order to unclog stains. “You can flush hot water through the elbow pipe, and it should come off.” 

She recommended homeowners clean this area annually, if not every six months. 

Unclog hair from the pipes with this simple home remedy

Water running down a garbage disposal sink drain

Fiona Mills shared a home remedy to remove clogged hair from drains.

-Oxford-/Getty Images


Mills said that plastic hair snakes unclog hair, but if homeowners don’t have a spare on hand, they can use a few common household ingredients.

“Squirt some dish soap into the drain, followed by a cup of baking soda and a cup of white vinegar,” Mills said. “After five minutes, pour a kettle full of boiling water down the drain. All of this will dissolve the hair.”

Mills said to use these four ingredients — including white vinegar — to clean garbage disposals

A person's hand using a spoon to pour baking soda into a sink drain

Fiona Mills said baking soda was one of the ingredients people could use to clean garbage disposals.

ThamKC/Getty Images


Mills told Insider that homeowners should start with the garbage disposal splash guard. 

“Most can just be pulled out, where you’ll see build-up that can be scrubbed off. If it can’t be removed, you can still scrub it in place by pulling it from the inside out with a scrubby,” Mills said. “The grime comes off relatively easily with little effort as it is usually wet from use.” 

Mills said to use baking soda, white vinegar, sea salt or thick granulated salt, and ice for the actual garbage disposal. She added that people should avoid putting food, including eggshells, in disposals. 

“Pour half a cup of baking soda into your garbage disposal and just let it sit for about 10-15 minutes, then pour a cup of white vinegar. Let this sit for about three minutes, then rinse with boiling hot water,” Mills said. 

To keep the blades sharp, “pour about two cups or so of full ice cubes into the disposal. On top of the ice, pour a cup of salt, turn on the cold water, and turn on the garbage disposal.”

Lastly, Mills adds some lemon peels into the garbage disposal with water to create a nice scent. 

To unclog a garbage disposal, pour baking soda and one cup of white vinegar into the disposal, then wait 10 minutes. Finish the job with hot water.

https://www.insider.com/expert-shares-tips-for-cleaning-garbage-disposals-drains-and-pipes-2022-2

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