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A kitchen garbage disposal is a cook’s best friend. Using the garbage disposal is a great way to reduce trash and odors at the same time. But, when garbage disposals aren’t used properly, they can cause problems. They can wreak even more havoc for homeowners who have septic systems rather than traditional sewers. Here are a few tips for ensuring that you\’re using your garbage disposal properly.

1. Be careful of the switch. Garbage disposals can be very dangerous if an unlucky hand happens to be inside when the switch gets flipped. If you’re building a new home, isolate the switch from other switches in the kitchen. Placing the switch in the cabinet under the sink is a great idea. But, if you\’re stuck with a switch that\’s already in place, label it.
2. Keep it sweet smelling. You can purchase tablets that clean up odors in your garbage disposal. However, grinding up your citrus peels works just as well. If it gets really stinky, pour a little bleach down there.
3. Don’t use it like a trash can. This is especially important if you have a septic system. Avoid very fibrous materials like artichokes, potato peelings and cornhusks. Do not put grease or fat down your disposal, as it is very hard for the septic system to break down.
4. Don’t use hot water. When you run your garbage disposal, only use cold water.
5. Grind a bone every now and then. While it\’s not a good idea to put all your bones down the garbage disposal (especially if you have a septic system), a few bones every now and then can actually scrub the blades, keeping the disposal clean.
Garbage disposals are very handy. Just be sure you take care of yours so that it doesn’t become more trouble than it’s worth.

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