How to Get Glass Out of Garbage Disposal: Expert Tips

Accidents can happen, but when dealing with garbage disposal units, mistakes and accidents can be quite dangerous and costly. The unit itself is best used to break down soft food scraps and waste. 

But when something much harder gets stuck inside of the unit, the risk of damaging your plumbing system shoots up. Getting a foreign object like glass broken in the garbage disposal is risky for you as well.

Fortunately, there is a way to clean it out in an entirely safe way. When possible, removing the largest pieces of glass is the most important step, but many homeowners already know the risk of reaching into the disposal unit. So, to help, we’ve put together this guide.

If you think that there’s broken glass in your disposal unit and want professional help getting it out, look no further than Clover Contracting. One of our team members will get there as soon as we can so that you can get back to your daily life as soon as possible

How Do Garbage Disposals Work?

One of the best ways to learn how to deal with bits of broken glass in garbage disposal units is by understanding how the unit functions with its different parts. The first, and often most important, is the blade. 

More often than not, the so-called blades in a garbage disposal are actually blunt metal “teeth” called impellers. When used alongside the unit’s motor and other parts, the food scraps you put in it are broken down through high-speed rotational force.

Another key part is the garbage disposal’s flywheel and shredder ring. Depending on the make and model of your particular garbage disposal, these parts can be right below the unit’s opening. When it’s turned on, the shredder ring and flywheel rotate and help generate the force needed to push the scraps against the sides. The result is finely ground scraps that are safe for your pipes while also being easy to filter out.

How to Get Glass Out of Garbage Disposal Units in Kitchens

When it comes to actually removing broken glass in garbage disposal units, there are a few different ways that you can do so. The best and safest way involves sucking up the glass with a sturdy shop vacuum or other similar tools. Of course, if you would much rather avoid renting or even buying a new tool, there are also ways to get the glass out without them.

Unplug and Disconnect the Garbage Disposal

The last thing you want when cleaning a garbage disposal is for the unit to turn on. Regardless of whether it’s turned on manually or by an accidental fluctuation in your home’s electricity, the disposal unit is still quite dangerous. Even if garbage disposals don’t have actual sharp blades, the shredder ring can still cause serious injuries. When you add in the fact that glass broke in the garbage disposal, the cleaning becomes much more dangerous.

You can easily make it safer by unplugging the garbage disposal at its power source.

Use a Pair of Tongs or Other Tools

Once the garbage disposal has been turned off, you’ll want to start the cleanup by getting the larger pieces of glass out. To avoid any injuries that come with handling broken glass, use a pair of tongs to grab each piece. Shining a flashlight into the unit can also greatly help the process and help you find particularly large pieces.

If you don’t have a pair of tongs or if you would rather avoid damaging the ones you have, there are a few other tools that you can also use. Some people suggest using pliers, and more specifically, needle nose pliers to reach as far down as possible. Others also suggest using half of a raw potato, though this method works better for medium-sized glass bits.

Unscrew the Hex Bolt at the Base

Even though you can get a large majority of the glass stuck in the garbage disposal by utilizing the previous step, there’s still bound to be a few shards that are stuck closer to the bottom. Most of the time, these pieces will jam up the impeller and prevent the shredder blade from spinning. To fix this issue, all you need to do is remove the hex bolt at the bottom of the unit with the appropriate hex key. Then carefully remove the pieces.

Use a Vacuum Before Plugging It Back In

Once you’ve reattached the bottom of the unit and screwed in the hex bolt, all that’s left is getting the smaller pieces of broken glass in garbage disposal units out. The best way to do this is by using a special wet/dry vacuum that’s made to have the same suction in areas that frequently get soaked with water. The vacuum has a long nozzle that you can push toward the bottom, and simply turning it on should vacuum up the glass bits.

From there, you can test if the unit works by plugging it back in. If it doesn’t, push the reset button at the bottom of the garbage disposal after unplugging it. Reconnect it before trying again. Be sure to run cold water into the garbage disposal when testing it.

If there are any small pieces that the vacuum didn’t pick up due to their size, the water flowing down into the unit should help grind them down to something more manageable for your pipes. During the process, however, ensure that you keep clear of the garbage disposal as best you can. You can also use a plate over it to prevent any glass bits from flying out.


These steps are the best and safest way to clear out any shards of broken glass from your garbage disposal unit. 

While these steps should solve the issue at hand, there is still the chance that a tiny piece might linger or that a little damage happens. If you need help replacing the unit or if you just want professional help doing maintenance on it, contact our team at Clover Contracting today.

Related Posts

Scroll to Top
Subscribe to our email list for promotions and updates.
$100 OFF Air Purification