How to Unstick a Garbage Disposal

It seems as though garbage disposals only clog or stick when you need them the most: when you're hosting Thanksgiving dinner or a big dinner party.

Unjamming the Disposer

Being able to unstick the garbage disposal yourself is invaluable if you hope to avoid a sink full of food and dirty water when it is most inconvenient. .

Step 1

Shut off the power. This is absolutely imperative.

Step 2

Move the flywheel of the disposer back and forth using a broom handle braced against the bottom. Do NOT use your hand. The item that is causing the problem should dislodge as you move that flywheel back and forth.

Step 3

Lift out the item that caused the problem with tongs. Again, never stick your hand into the garbage disposal.

Step 4

Turn the power to the unit back on and try the unit again. Wait 15 minutes for the unit to cool if the disposer won't start up right away. If there is a reset button on the bottom of the base, push it.

Step 5

Grind a couple of ice cubes in the disposer to clear out any food remaining in the disposer.

Things You Will Need

  • Broom handle
  • Tongs
  • Hex key (also known as an Allen wrench)
  • Ice cubes


  • If a broom handle doesn't succeed in freeing the stuck object from the flywheel, use a hex key (also known as an Allen wrench) in the hex key opening on the bottom of the base to turn the motor shaft and the flywheel. You can locate the bottom of the base by going under the sink and looking up at the bottom of the garbage disposal. You can turn the shaft and flywheel in both directions with this method.


  • Never stick your hand into the garbage disposal.

About the Author

Shantana Goerge has been writing since 1997, bringing straight-forward communication to a variety of notoriously-taciturn careers, including health inspection, public health education and science reporting. In addition to writing on these topics, she also writes on her other passions: Parenting, spirituality and nutrition. She holds dual bachelor's degrees in microbiology and food science from Michigan State University.