5 Steps to Safely Clear Broken Glass out of Your Garbage Disposal

The kitchen sink is the hub of the entire kitchen. Many people own and use a dishwasher regularly, but if they hand wash a glass or fill it with water at the faucet, there is a risk. If you drop a glass item in the sink and it gets into the drain, how can you get those pieces out of the garbage disposal? Glassware is fragile, and this is particularly true when it has shattered into broken pieces. It’s also important to protect your hands from cuts, and many people are unsure about how they should proceed. In this article, we will show you five steps to clear the broken glass from your garbage disposal.

Glass in the Garbage Disposal

Many people believe that their garbage disposal unit can grind up anything, including glass. This is incorrect. There are many hard and softer materials that a garbage disposal cannot handle, including larger pieces of glass. The glass may not damage the blades, but it can damage other components in the unit. If you drop glass into your garbage disposal, begin the following five steps as quickly as possible. This process should take around an hour, and you need a pair of needle nosed pliers and a shop vac if you have one.

  1. Turn Off the Garbage Disposal

The very first step is to turn off the garbage disposal to limit any further damage. There is a switch located near or on the garbage disposal, and this needs to be turned off. But, before you even consider working on the garbage disposal, it’s important to locate the circuit breaker for the unit and turn that off too. Now the garbage disposal is turned off, and there is no power to the unit, so it is safer to clear the glass.

  1. Protect Your Hands

The last thing that you should attempt is to pick wet pieces of sharp glass out of the garbage disposal. Your hands can easily slip, and it’s far too easy to get a nasty cut. The best approach is to avoid touching the glass by using a tool, and the ideal solution is a pair of needle nose pliers. The majority of the glass will be located near the top of the unit, and they should be easier to reach with the pliers. Concentrate on the larger pieces of glass first and dispose of them safely.

  1. Use an Industrial Vaccum

At this point, it’s likely that you will have smaller pieces of broken glass that you cannot pick up with a pair of needle nose pliers. If you have an industrial or shop vacuum, use it to remove the smaller pieces of glass that remain. Again, resist the temptation to reach in and pluck out that annoying small piece of glass. Even if you are wearing thick gloves, you can still cut yourself. Don’t obsess over removing very small pieces of glass; they won’t damage your garbage disposal blades. In fact, very small glass pieces may even help to sharpen your blades.

  1. Moving the Blades

Sometimes the glass can get caught under the garbage disposal blades. We have turned off the unit and the power supply so we can rotate the blades by turning the garbage disposal unit on. So, put on a pair of gloves, reach in, and gently rotate the blades to shake the pieces of glass loose. Then you can either remove them with the pliers or take another pass with the vacuum if the glass pieces are smaller.

  1. Test the Garbage Disposal

Now the glass has been removed; it’s time to find out if everything is working as intended. Make sure your hands are dry and flip the circuit breaker back on. Then flip the power switch and run the garbage disposal to check that it’s working correctly. If the garbage disposal doesn’t work, you may need to press the “reset” switch that is usually located on the unit’s bottom. If you can hear glass grinding, you may have missed some glass pieces, and you need to repeat these steps. If the garbage disposal runs smoothly, run some water to flush any remaining tiny fragments of glass into the drain.

Some Helpful Cleaning Hints

If you have any tiny fragments of glass and you cannot pick them up there are a couple of ways to approach the problem. Try cutting a potato in half and press the cut surface on the glass covered surface, and it will pull the glass off that surface. Then dispose of the potato in the trash so that no-one accidentally eats it! Another way to lift smaller pieces of glass is to use a sheet of wet kitchen paper, and this works in a similar way to the potato trick. But, if you’re using either of these methods, wear a pair of work gloves to keep the glass fragments off your hands to avoid cuts and irritation. If you want to sanitize your garbage disposal after finishing place some baking soda in the drain, leave it for 30 minutes and pour in some hot water. Run the unit for a few minutes, and everything should smell fresh and clean again.

Contacting a Professional Plumber

Following these five steps will clear the glass from your garbage disposal, but what if you’re not confident dealing with plumbing related problems? This is where a local certified plumber can help with a wide variety of plumbing related activities. But, this is not just related to clearing the garbage disposal or fixing a leaking faucet. Every home would benefit from an annual plumbing tune up to ensure that each plumbing system is working correctly. Well maintained plumbing systems are less likely to fail when you need them most, and they are more efficient.

If you need your garbage disposal cleared, contact a local certified plumber today. They can locate the source of your plumbing problems and fix them quickly.

By Giovanni Longo President Flood Brothers Plumbing
Giovanni Longo is a 3rd generation master plumber who has been practicing his craft and trade in the greater Los Angeles area for well over a decade and a half. A plumbing and hydraulics-engineering innovator, Giovanni’s particular world-class expertise focuses on dealing with challenging sewer system designs as well as resolving complex commercial and residential draining issues. As a certified Flood Mitigation expert, he is also well versed in a wide variety of water damage and remediation solution