I moved into a new house last May. It wasn’t new construction, just new to me. Since a house of any age is always in need of a bit of maintenance or repair, I’ve been steadily building a “to do” list. One item was to give the garbage disposer a good cleaning out, but I’ve been procrastinating. Who knows what bacterial dangers could be lurking down there? This week, however, I was startled into the realization that the job simply could not be put off any longer.
Anyone who owns a garbage disposer will tell you that a pretty good layer of muck can build up on the underside of the rubber collar. The collar is what keeps a food version of Mount St. Helens from happening in your kitchen. Fortunately, it is easy enough to pull it out and wash clean. It’s a disgusting task, but it’s not difficult. However, the underside of the garbage disposer is another story. A lot of finely chopped food residue can collect up there unless you clean it out every so often. If you don’t, a disposer will get really mucky. Super mucky, actually, given enough time and the inclination of food scraps to turn into compost.
Given that fact, I still don’t think too many people pay much attention to the underside of their garbage disposers. It if smells, grinding up a lemon rind in it will take care of the odor. Besides, you can’t see the underside of a disposer, so you have no idea what degree of muckiness is there unless you’re willing to reach in and scrape it with your fingers. Gross. But you can see the bottom of the disposer easily, especially if you take the collar out. That’s where the grinding blades are. Well, who wants to reach into the jaws of a machine that could grind your fingers to hamburger meat should some evil troll turn it on while your hand was down there? Shudder! The whole idea of putting my hand into something powerful enough to grind up chicken bones just gives me the creeps.
The previous owner must have felt the same way about reaching into the “jaws of death” as I do. I’ve deduced this because two days ago, as I was peering out of the kitchen window over the sink, I looked down to see quite a strange sight. A crop of small seedlings were growing out of my garbage disposer! In mild shock, I pulled out a couple of them. The roots on these little guys were about an inch wide and just as long. The super muck that had been collecting on the underside of the disposer for who knows how long was now thick enough to support plant life. Egads!
Well, that did it. I could not postpone de-mucking the garbage disposer any longer. But how to do it? I really did not want to reach blindly into the compost pile that now lined the walls of the disposer. What tool could I used to hook up under there and scrape it clean without damaging it? Then I had a moment of genius. Use Ice. Of course, ice! Manufacturers recommend that you drop some ice cubes into your disposer every now and then to keep the blades sharp. So I removed the rubber collar and crammed the disposer full of ice cubes. I hit the “on” switch, and after a few seconds, I ran the water to help the cubes move around the disposer walls. The sights and sounds were a wonder to behold - glooog, spurrrful, schliiiick, shuh, shuh, shuh, schloooosh! A brown, soupy whirlpool erupted out of the disposer as who knows how many years worth of super muck was liberated by the ice scrub. Then the whirlpool turned clear again, to my great relief, drained away, and the dreadful job was done.
I wish I had taken a “before” picture. Then I could have posted it on Facebook with one of those captions designed to make you click against your better judgement. Like, “What she saw growing out of the garbage disposer was shocking. What she did next was pure genius!” Yes indeed - one clean garbage disposer later, I feel truly ingenious. And I still have all my fingers.