I Tried That Drain Cleaning Hack from TikTok and Here’s What Happened

updated Dec 9, 2021
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Water down the drain with ice
Credit: Naomi Tomky

Little is as satisfying in this world as cleaning tricks that really show you how much work they’re doing: seeing all the dust in a pile, cleaning out the vacuum filter, snaking a drain. Sure, they are gross because the dirt was there, but it just feels so great to have declared victory over the huge amount of yuck that has built up over time. So when a trick for clearing out your in-sink garbage disposal went viral on TikTok, I had to give it a try.

In videos like this one by user MiriamCabral47, people show off how letting the disposal grind up the ice, then adding hot water while it is running, shot back up all the dirt from their disposal. Like the culinary version of the people who watch pimple-popping videos, the grosser the discharge, the more calming the video. What, I wondered, might live in the depths of my own disposal?

The ice trick isn’t new: if you follow The Kitchn’s own instructions on cleaning your disposal, you’ll see that’s one of the multi-part process recommended. But I just wanted to see that dirt. So I cleared the pots from last night’s dinner and the dishes from this morning’s breakfast to the side of the sink. I poured the sour water soaking in yogurt containers out so that I could recycle them, and I rinsed the soapy, dairy-marbled water down the drain. I grabbed the ice from the freezer and poured it, and turned on the disposal, just like the video showed. After a few minutes of listening to the mechanical grind of the blades against the ice, I poised my camera to capture the disgusting but wonderful results, and turned on the hot water. My anticipation quickly deflated: nothing happened. A little clean water bubbled up, but mostly it all just flowed out.

We don’t use the disposal too much (thank you, Seattle, for a robust compost and food waste service), and we just recently had to dig it apart (fish bones in the air gap for — embarrassingly — not the first time), so while I’m willing to accept that ours might just already be clean, I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed that I didn’t get to watch the dirt flow out and away.

Have you tried this trick at home? Let us know in the comments!