Can You Use The Dishwasher If The Garbage Disposal Is Clogged Or Broken?

Your garbage disposal plays an indispensable role in ensuring your pipes won’t clog.

The unit has a motor and blades that shred food waste into super small pieces that pass through plumbing without clogging the pipes.

Although your dishwasher and garbage disposal are separate and seemingly unrelated kitchen devices, they share some plumbing.

Because of this, you may want to know whether a problem with garbage disposal can affect the functionality of your dishwasher.

So, Can You Use The Dishwasher If The Garbage Disposal Is Clogged Or Broken?

Yes, you can. There is no harm in using your dishwasher even when the garbage disposal is broken or clogged. Broken garbage disposal means that the housing is intact, but the motor or other components are defective.

Although your dishwasher drains into the garbage disposal, it is not a must for the disposal to be running during the wash cycle. The bad news is that if your garbage disposal is clogged, it will likely lead to improper drainage. At worst, a clogged garbage disposal can cause the greywater to back up into the dishwasher; therefore, resulting in dirty dishes after the wash cycle. Unlike broken disposal, which allows water from the dishwasher to flow through it to the drain line, clogged disposal can cause your dishwasher to leak. Therefore, if your disposal is clogged, the best trick to avoid regrets is unclogging it before running the dishwasher.

Why Is Your Dishwasher And Garbage Disposal Connected?

While installing a dishwasher does not mandate garbage disposal, this optional component plays a critical role in ensuring your plumping is clear.

The wastewater from your dishwasher drains into the kitchen drainage system, the same plumbing where your sink drains to.

Therefore, it is a no-brainer that you need a mechanism to prevent the back-flow of wastewater back into your dishwasher.

This is usually done by including an air-gap, which is also a requirement by code.

Before adding the dirty dishes into the washer, you need to scrape off anything big from the plates.

So, why should you connect the dishwasher’s wastewater discharge through the garbage disposal?

Surprisingly, the primary reason you connect your dishwasher output through disposal is simplicity and practicality.

Since kitchen plumbing does not include a drain line for the dishwasher, installing a garbage disposal can save time and money.

Fortunately, most garbage disposals come with a threaded connector where you can easily connect your dishwasher drain output.

From the fact that your dishwasher does not use the shredding function of garbage disposal, then the functionality of your dishwasher will not be affected if the garbage disposal malfunctions.

However, if your disposal is clogged, then your dishwasher won’t drain properly.

If you have excess water sitting in the bottom of your dishwasher, make sure to check if the disposal is clogged before attempting anything complicated intricate with your washer.

As a general rule, if the water in your sink drains normally, so will wastewater from the dishwasher.

Should You Run The Dishwasher When Your Garbage Disposal Is Clogged?

Your dishwasher depends on the garbage disposal to drain the greywater after every wash cycle.

Running it when the disposal is clogged can be potentially messy.

If you start your dishwasher when the garbage disposal is blocked, the disposal may push the wastewater into the sink, causing a mess. Although it is a rare scenario, it can happen.

If your dishwasher is seriously clogged, the ultimate solution would be unclogging it before running your dishwasher.

Keep in mind that a broken garbage disposal can be the cause of clogs.

Therefore, diagnosing and repairing the problem could be the only solution you need to continue enjoying the convenience of your dishwasher.

Related: Can You Run the Dishwasher and Garbage Disposal at The Same Time?

What Are The Seven Signs Indicating Your Garbage Disposal Is Broken?

A functioning disposal garbage helps you keep the kitchen plumbing clean and clear from clogs.

Garbage disposals are designed to shred food waste and other debris into super small particles that will easily pass through the kitchen plumbing. Unfortunately, even the best garbage disposal will not last forever.

Even if you get a warranty, your garbage disposal will at some point fail.

While some disposal failures can be repaired, some require you to replace the unit altogether. What are the signs of a failing garbage disposal?

1. Your garbage disposal will not turn on

If you flip the switch and do not hear the humming sound of the disposal motor, there could be electrical issues hindering the current from reaching the appliance.

If you’re a savvy DIYer, you can fix the problem. However, if the problem persists, you may want it checked and repaired by an electrician.

2. Bizarre noise coming from the disposal

Garbage disposals usually produce a humming sound when the motor is operating normally. If you hear a strange noise coming from the garbage disposal, check to see if its components are misaligned.

The noise, especially any metal-sounding noise, could be caused by a lost spoon.

Because any obstructions can break or severely damage the appliance, make sure to address any abnormal noise soonest possible.

3. Disposal hums but does not shred debris

If the unit hums when switching on but does not grind, the inner flywheel has probably jammed.

This is not a scenario you want to last for long because it causes the circuit breaker to trip very quickly or the reset button to pop.

4. Persistent odors

The bad smell coming from your garbage disposal signifies that it is clogged.

When the motor of your disposal breaks, old food and other waste will accumulate in the disposal, therefore causing it to jam.

The accumulated waste will likely result in an unpleasant odor. Thorough cleaning and rinsing should eliminate the smell.

If the nasty smell doesn’t respond to cleaning, it is time to call a professional plumber to open the appliance and remove any particles trapped inside.

When cleaning disposals, do not resort to chemical cleaners.

5. Your garbage disposal leaking

If your garbage disposal is leaking, it may indicate that the seal needs to be replaced, or it could be a severe problem.

It may be a sign that the disposal is clogged. Leaks can also happen at the point where your dishwasher discharge connects to the disposal.

The best way to end this problem is to have it diagnosed and repaired correctly by a plumber.

6. Frequent resets

Garbage disposal reset button is primarily intended to help the unit recover from abnormal situations.

However, this should happen rarely. If you find yourself frequently pressing the reset button on the appliance, this is a sign that it suffers an internal issue.

Pay attention to the number of times you rest your garbage disposal and call a plumber or electrician to correct the defect.

Four Common Causes Of Garbage Disposal Clogs

If you note the above signs, especially those indicating your garbage disposal is clogged, cleaning the unit is a great way to save the situation.

Although clogging does not mean you won’t be able to use your dishwasher, it is likely to result in a regret – mess or dirty utensils after the wash cycle.

Apart from cleaning your disposal when it is clogged, you need to plan regular maintenance. The most common cause of garbage disposal clogs are:

1. Insufficient flushing water

Not putting enough water down the disposal when it is grinding food waste and other debris. Keep in mind that garbage disposal needs lots of water to flush the debris after breaking it into small pieces.

2. Grinding potato peels

Although the blades of your garbage disposal are not razor-sharp, they are sharp enough to grind potato peels into super small pieces.

The bad side of it is that potato peels form a starchy paste that, over time, will clog the disposal unit.

3. Grinding banana peels

In addition to the starchy paste like that of potato peels, banana peels add stingy fibers to the mix, causing your disposal unit to fail and blog quickly.

4. Shredding eggshells

Normally, eggshells will pass through the drainage system without blocking the pipes. However, this tiny waste tends to stick to any sludge, which results in a clog.

How To Unclog A Garbage Disposal In Five Steps

Thoroughly cleaning your garbage disposal is a great way to keep it clean and clear from clogs.

When cleaning, never use chemical cleaners.

If the clogging is due to stubborn particles, here is how you unclog the unit.

  1. Turn off and unplug the garbage disposal. Next, determine the cause of the clog.
  2. Pour a mixture of baking powder and vinegar into the disposal unit and allow it to fizz for few minutes before washing.
  3. Wash the garbage disposal with hot water and allow water to run for a while to clear the clog. If you see any huge waste blocking causing the clock, lift it out using a plunger.
  4. Remove the P-trap, disassemble it, and clean it thoroughly. After it is clean, secure it in position.
  5. Flush the drainage system. Your garbage disposal is now clean.


A broken or clogged garbage disposal is a relatively common and disgusting kitchen issue.

The good news is that broken garbage disposal does not affect the functionality of your dishwasher.

No matter what happens to the garbage disposal, you can continue using your dishwasher.