How to Unclog a Garbage Disposal with Standing Water

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When you find standing water in your kitchen sink, it’s often a sign that your garbage disposal is clogged. This common issue can cause water to back up, creating a frustrating and unsanitary mess. Fortunately, unclogging a garbage disposal with standing water is typically a task you can tackle yourself. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to clear the clog and provide tips to prevent future problems. If these steps seem daunting or if the problem persists, remember that All Pro Plumbing is just a call away to assist with all your plumbing needs.

Unclogging a Garbage Disposal with Standing Water

Step 1: Safety First

Before you begin, safety is paramount. Make sure the garbage disposal is turned off. It’s best to unplug it entirely or turn off the circuit breaker that powers it. Never put your hand directly into the disposal unit, as this can be dangerous.

Step 2: Remove Standing Water

Start by removing the standing water from the sink. You can scoop out the water with a cup or small container and bucket. Clearing the water gives you better access to the disposal and reduces the risk of spills or water damage as you work.

Step 3: Check for Obvious Obstructions

With the water out of the way, use a flashlight to look down the drain for any visible obstructions. Sometimes, the cause of the blockage is clear, like a large food item or a non-disposable object that accidentally fell in. If you can see the obstruction, use pliers or tongs to remove it—never use your hands.

Step 4: Use a Plunger

If the obstruction isn’t immediately visible, try using a sink plunger. Place the plunger over the drain and ensure a firm seal. Pump the plunger vigorously several times to create pressure and suction. This action can help dislodge any materials blocking the path of the disposal.

Step 5: Apply Baking Soda and Vinegar

For a non-toxic cleaning solution, pour half a cup of baking soda into the drain, followed by half a cup of white vinegar. The combination will fizz and bubble, helping to break down fatty acids and other materials that could be causing the blockage. After letting it sit for about ten minutes, flush the disposal with hot water to see if the clog clears.

Step 6: Use an Allen Wrench

If the clog persists, find the hex-shaped hole underneath the garbage disposal unit. Most disposals come with an Allen wrench designed for this exact purpose. Insert the wrench into the hole and twist back and forth. This manual cranking can help free up whatever is jamming the blades inside the unit.

Step 7: Reset the Garbage Disposal

After working on the disposal, press the reset button located on the bottom of the unit. This can sometimes clear residual issues and get your disposal working again. Once reset, turn on the water and test the disposal to check if the clog is cleared.

Step 8: Test Your Disposal

Plug the disposal back in or turn on the circuit breaker, then run water and turn on the disposal. Listen to make sure it’s running smoothly and that the water is draining quickly. If it sounds normal and the water is flowing, your problem is likely fixed.

Prevention Tips

Preventing future clogs is just as important as knowing how to fix them. Here are some tips to keep your garbage disposal running smoothly:

  • Avoid disposing of problematic items: Coffee grounds, eggshells, pasta, rice, and fibrous vegetables like celery can bind together and clog your disposal.
  • Run cold water during and after use: Cold water helps keep oils and fats in solid form so they can be ground up and flushed away.
  • Clean regularly: Regular cleaning with ice cubes and salt or vinegar can help keep your disposal blades sharp and clear of residual buildup.


Unclogging a garbage disposal with standing water can be a straightforward DIY task if you follow these steps. Remember, regular maintenance and proper use are key to avoiding disposal problems. However, if you’re facing repeated issues or if the clog won’t clear, it might be time to call in the professionals.

For Florida residents, All Pro Plumbing is your go-to expert for reliable and efficient plumbing solutions. Whether it’s a clogged garbage disposal or any other plumbing need, our skilled technicians are ready to provide top-notch service. Don’t hesitate to contact us at All Pro Plumbing for all your plumbing requirements—we’re here to ensure everything flows smoothly in your home!


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