Garbage disposals, or "food waste disposal units," use tap water and grinding forces to break food into small particles that can pass through drainpipes into sewage containment systems. Although garbage disposals provide an efficient food disposal method, certain foods, such as rice, stick to the interior of the disposal or clump/swell, blocking the drain. In addition, many people try to force large amounts of food down a disposal, which can create blockages. Dissolving and removing rice stuck in a garbage disposal isn't difficult, though, as rice grains eventually soften and break down when exposed to hot water and/or acid.
Boil 2 cups of water in a teakettle or pot.
Position your teakettle or pot directly over the drain opening for your garbage disposal and pour the hot water into the drain to begin dissolving any uncooked or clumped rice clogging the disposal. Wait 10 minutes.
Run lukewarm tap water down the drain and turn on your disposal. If rice remains stuck in the disposal, repeat these steps. If the drain remains clogged after two attempts, go to Step 4.
Pour 1/2 to 1 cup baking soda into your garbage disposal and then pour in an equal amount of white vinegar.
Cover the drain opening with your drain/garbage disposal plug and wait 20 to 40 minutes.
Repeat Step 3 to see if the foaming action of the abrasive baking soda and acid vinegar mixture dissolved and cleared the clog.
TIPS: If the rice clog remains after trying boiling water and the baking soda/vinegar mixture, contact your garbage disposal manufacturer for a list of garbage disposal clog remover products approved for use with your disposal and then follow the instructions provided on the product you choose.
If a clog remover product doesn't remove the clog (for example, clogs that contain other foods such as bones, or large clogs extending into the drainpipes), hire a plumber as continued attempts to clear the clog could damage your disposal or pipes.
WARNING: Always follow any instructions provided by your garbage disposal/pipe manufacturers for clearing clogs before using these instructions as hot water and/or chemicals may damage your disposal and/or any plastic drain pipes (if applicable).
Always wear a mask when using baking soda, vinegar and/or chemical cleaners in your disposal as fumes released from reactions between cleaners and food, grease or bacteria/mold in the disposal can be hazardous to your health.
Always use disposal clog remover products instead of "drain cleaners" for clearing garbage disposal clogs as such cleaners are formulated for use with a garbage disposal and less likely to contain chemicals that can cause damage.
Never stick your hand, kitchen utensils or any tools into your garbage disposal to help clear a rice clog.
Irene A. Blake
Based in Southern Pennsylvania, Irene A. Blake has been writing on a wide range of topics for over a decade. Her work has appeared in projects by The National Network for Artist Placement, the-phone-book Limited and GateHouse Media. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Shippensburg University.