Can I Use My Dishwasher If My Garbage Disposal Is Leaking or Clogged?

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June 26, 2019
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Can I Use My Dishwasher If My Garbage Disposal Is Leaking or Clogged?

Most homes have both a dishwasher and a garbage disposal in their kitchen that share a water and drain line. Meaning when an issue impacts one appliance, there’s a chance it can affect the other’s performance, as well. When a dishwasher drains, it often means that water is then going through the garbage disposal on the way out.

If the garbage disposal is leaking, you will not only suffer water leaks when the sink and disposal are used, you will risk additional leaking every time you run the dishwasher.

If the disposal is clogged, then water and small food particles washed away during dishwasher cycles will add to that clog and possibly worsen water backing up into your pipes, sink, or right back into the dishwasher. This leaves you with still dirty dishes and a smelly mess. 


It is recommended you address the garbage disposal repair before you continue to use your dishwasher, if the appliances are on a shared water and pipe system.


Quick troubleshooting tips:

For most of these, you will need an Allen wrench handy.


  1. Turn off the main power switch, which is usually located under the sink near the disposal. If you do not see the switch, go to your main house circuit breaker and locate the breaker switch for the garbage disposal or “kitchen” and turn it off. Open the cabinet under the sink where the garbage disposal is located.
  2. Insert one end of the Allen wrench into the hole on the bottom underside of the garbage disposal.
  3. Turn the Allen wrench slowly. You will hear the blade inside moving as well as the clog. If you feel resistance, stop and turn the wrench in the opposite direction. Continue this alternating turning until the resistance becomes lessened.
  4. Locate the small reset button on the side or bottom of the garbage disposal. Press this button once. Remove the Allen wrench.
  5. Turn on the sink water and let it run for a few seconds down the drain. Turn the main breaker for the disposal or kitchen back on. Flip the power switch to activate the disposal and let it run for a few seconds. If it still sounds like there is a clog, repeat Steps 2 through 4.
  6. Turn on the hot water and allow it to run down the drain for a few minutes. The clog is cleared when the water does not back up into the sink and the disposal spins normally.



  1. Place a pan beneath the garbage disposal and drain pipe under the sink.
  2. Run water through both the dishwasher and the sink/disposal to see if you can pinpoint where the leak is coming from. Do this separately and watch for leaks during each evolution.
  3. If your pipe or disposal is leaking, we recommend calling in a Ben Franklin plumbing professional to properly repair or replace the section of pipe that is leaking.
  4. If the disposal is leaking, your Ben Franklin expert can also help you repair or replace this appliance with insured and warrantied service.


We offer troubleshooting tips for our customers (or prospective customers) who feel courageous enough to tackle DIY plumbing repairs at home. Rest assured, our Ben Franklin Plumbers are always standing ready to respond 24/7. We have the advanced tools and know-how to get to the epicenter of any clog and remove it. Plus, you don’t want to risk damaging your pipes, dishwasher or disposal and pay more for repairs for what could be a relatively easy fix for us. 

Contact us or call our 24/7 customer service line today 800.471.0809.