How to remove broken glass from a garbage disposal?

All garbage disposals come with splash guards, so it is unlikely that any glassware will fall into the unit. I am pretty sure it will get stuck at the splash guard, and you won’t have any difficulty picking it up.

But though strange, sometimes glassware does end up inside the disposal unit. If you ask me how, I don’t know.

Steps to remove broken glass from a garbage disposal

Time needed: 20 minutes.

If you are unfortunate enough to find glass inside your garbage disposal, here is how to remove them;

  1. Remove big glass pieces

    Use a tong and remove the bigger glass pieces (I am assuming that you are clever enough to switch off the unit before doing this). If you are using a Waste King disposal its splash guard is removable, so it is easier to remove the glass pieces. You will have a tougher time with InSinkErator models.

  2. Remove the tiny pieces using a vacuum cleaner or a sponge

    Use a wet sponge to scour through the insides of the unit with the help of a tong. The wet sponge will catch the smaller pieces of broken glass. I am afraid you will have to do this multiple times to get the most of the glass pieces out.
    Using a wet-dry vacuum cleaner to suck up the glass pieces would be a better idea. Put its nozzle through the top and run it for a few minutes.

  3. Grind away the rest

    Once you have done the best to remove all glass pieces from the garbage disposal run plenty of water and run the unit. The tiniest pieces will be ground and washed away.

But if you are unfortunate enough, the disposal unit won’t start on Step 3. That means your cleaning was not as good as you thought, the garbage disposal is stuck because some tiny glass pieces are jamming its blades. So if this is the case you will have to manually rotate the blades using an Allen wrench (if yours is an InSinkErator) or using a garbage disposal wrench (for Waste King and similar). Once the blades are somewhat free, repeat Step 2 & 3 until the unit starts working again.

The whole process of clearing broken glass from the garbage disposal will take around 20 minutes.

Possible risks of having broken glass inside your garbage disposal

I have heard people recommending to use small glass pieces to sharpen garbage disposal blades. But that is non-sense. Grinding glass in your garbage disposal is not going to sharpen their blades. In fact, these machines do not have blades.

Here are the possible risks of grinding broken glass;

Physical injury: If the garbage disposal is working when the glassware falls into it, the glass is definitely going to shatter into small pieces. Hopefully, no pieces will fly out and end up in your eyes thanks to the splash guard, but still, there is a small possibility for it.

Jam the disposal unit: The glass can jam the disposal thus making it unable to work. If you here the machine humming then this already happened. You will have to switch off the garbage disposal and remove the glass pieces as mentioned above in this article.

Clogging the pipes: Even if you manage to grind the glass pieces and these remove them from the garbage disposal there is a chance that these particles will clog your pipes. Glass pieces do not easily flow away with water, they tend to stay at the bottom as sand does. However, since the possibility of successfully grinding glass pieces is very small you are not going to end up with enough of them to clog the pipes.

Damage to the disposal unit: Glass pieces can cause damage to garbage disposals. The grinding chamber if most units are made of high-quality plastic. And glass pieces can damage these plastic walls if you are not careful. Grinding glass can also cause alignment problems to the rotating parts of the disposal unit.

How to avoid glassware from falling into the garbage disposal?

Use a garbage disposal strainer: As I said before, it is unlikely that any glassware will fall into a disposal unit that easily. However there are such cases, and the best preventive measure is to use a garbage disposal strainer.

A strainer prevents anything other than water from going down the drain. But unfortunately, you will need to remove it while running a garbage disposal so it cannot prevent any glass pieces from falling into the unit at that time.

Careful of what you put: While running the garbage disposal be mindful of what you are doing. Surprisingly this can prevent many accidents, and save many glasswares.

Use a batch feed unit: Batch feed garbage disposals need to be closed with a lid for them to start working. So there is zero chance of anything falling into them.

I hope this article was helpful in solving your problem. If you have any comments do let me know.

Charles John

A few years back I bought a garbage disposal for the first time in my life. And the buying experience wasn't good. There were lots of models in the market, and I was not sure about which one to buy. They all looked the same to me. So once I went through the experience I started this blog to randomly write things about garbage disposals. Then I got really interested in the subject and started to write comparisons of very similar garbage disposals with each other. A lot of my readers find them very useful in making the right buying choice. I hope it helps you too.

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