Potato Peelings

We recently had friends spend a long weekend with us and they were telling us about a recent mishap at their house. They were entertaining friends for dinner and were preparing a potato dish. They put the potato peelings down the garbage disposer. You may have guessed what happened next – the drain got totally clogged. Typically things like that happen when it is holiday time and we are preparing food for more people than usual. Plumbers are usually not available at a reasonable price at those times as well!

There are foods you should never put down your garbage disposer. Sometimes it happens though that we forget or a helper in the kitchen is not familiar with foods that should not be disposed of in the garbage disposer. Our friends contacted a plumber but decided to try a few things themselves to unclog the drain and they were successful!

Many of us will probably be making potato salad this Summer so I thought it might be a good reminder to all of us to not put potato peelings down the garbage disposer and also to review some ways to try and unclog a drain on your own.

You may want to try the Baking Soda and Vinegar method: Pour 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain. Add 1/2 cup white vinegar and cover the drain if possible. Let set for a few minutes, then pour a kettle of boiling water down the drain to flush it. The combination of baking soda and vinegar can break down a clog and wash it down the drain. DO NOT use this method after any commercial drain opener has been used or is still present in the standing water.

Another method is using Salt and Baking Soda: Pour 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain. Follow with 6 cups boiling water. Let sit overnight and then flush with water. The hot water should help dissolve the clog and the baking soda and salt serve as an abrasive to break through the clog.

In order to keep your drain running smoothly you may consider pouring a kettle of boiling water down it on a weekly basis to melt fat that may be building up or to put some vinegar and baking soda down the drain to break up fat and keep it smelling fresh.

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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27 thoughts on “Potato Peelings

  1. Thank you so much for this tip. I haven’t had a garbage disposal for 8 years and we are renting a house with one and I forgot the rule about potato skins. I put too many down last night (New Year’s Eve) and searched for solutions and the vinegar/baking soda one worked. I did have to do it 3 times. The last time I covered the drain more quickly and let the vinegar and baking soda sit over night. We flushed it with water this morning and all cured- no plumber, no taking the thing apart.

    Thanks for the help!

  2. Thank you for this article and thank you also to Rhonda for her comments. I would have given up after one try, but after reading her comments I will repeat the process a few times, hopefully with the same success!

  3. So I to threw a handful of potato skins in the disposable and tried a Liquid plumer but has not worked don’t know what to do

  4. Try this solution: Add 1/2 cup white vinegar and cover the drain if possible. Let set for a few minutes, then pour a kettle of boiling water down the drain to flush it. The combination of baking soda and vinegar can break down a clog and wash it down the drain

  5. Yes, this worked beautifully. The sink was full of water so I took that all out before putting in the baking soda and vinegar. I started the disposal for 3 seconds after I added half of the boiling water and woosh! the problem was solved.

  6. We have the same experience with potato peelings. We tried this method and it worked great. We did have to do it twice, but it worked beautifully. Put the baking soda in the disposal first, after you’ve taken out as much water As possible, then dump in the vinegar. You want the chemical reaction to take place in the disposal and not in your sink.

  7. Great article Marcia. Thanks for sharing this tip. I found out that this method works if you follow the steps and I noticed that sometimes people try it and get frustrated when it doesn’t work. Usually, I would recommend not to panic but call a professional to handle where you are not qualified.

    Those are my thoughts. Again, this is informative article Marcia. Thanks

  8. Mike, we appreciate the positive feedback and glad you found Marcia’s tip to be useful.

  9. Jacqueline, we are not qualified to answer plumbing questions. A DIY suggestion would be to try using a plunger and plenty of water to move the clog along (working from the sink side). If you are handy and have the appropriate tools, a drain snake or auger can be used past the goose neck. Beyond that, enlist the help of a drain cleaning service or licensed plumber.

  10. Thankyou….we’re renting a home while ours is being worked on. Its very updated with all new appliances. I never had a garbage disposal before and didn’t know the problem potatoes skins create. I was so upset I broke something here. I thought I burned up the motor or something. I’m so glad you shared this information. It worked great!

  11. Maryanne, I could feel your anguish. So very glad Marcia’s tips were helpful! We appreciate your positive feedback. Hope you’ll be back in your own home soon.

  12. Brielle, thank you for your inquiry. Baking soda and baking powder do not have similar properties for this application. Baking soda and the vinegar provide the kind of reaction needed to clean a potato peel clog by breaking down the sticky potato starch.

  13. Thank you so much for this tip! You saved us a ton of money! We did the baking soda and salt (we used sea salt), and it worked like a charm!

  14. It worked!! Ahhh!! We tried plunging, drano, and a drill drain snake with barely any success. But two times with your baking soda and vinegar trick and the sink is CLEAR!! I’m so excited to finally get a good night’s rest. Thanks to you!!!

  15. Thank you so much for these tips! They worked great.
    I used the formula and procedure twice, the second time leaving the sink drain with the solution covered overnight.
    When I woke up the next morning, it was fixed! Saved me an over $100 dollar visit by the plumber.
    Thanks, again!!!

  16. Awesome! We love getting feedback like that as we want to be as helpful as possible.

  17. Thank you so much for this tip… my husband was sure we were going to need to call a plumber! I thought I was going to have to repeat the process but the second time I turned on the disposal after pouring in the boiling water it sucked right down… thanks again!!

  18. Hi Kathy, so glad this worked for you and for letting us know about your success!


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