Does A Broken Garbage Disposal Affect Your Dishwasher?

Can You Still Use Your Dishwasher When The Garbage Disposal Is Broken?

Garbage disposals and dishwashers are helpful kitchen appliances, but it’s a major inconvenience when they stop working. If you have a broken garbage disposal, you might’ve heard that it’s not safe to use your dishwasher — but is it true?

A broken garbage disposal only affects the dishwasher if the issue is with the drain. The dishwasher’s outlet connects to the garbage disposal’s drain line, so any clogs in the disposal may cause water to back up into the dishwasher and the sink.

Here’s what you need to know about broken garbage disposal and how it affects the dishwasher. Read on to learn more.

Can You Use a Dishwasher if the Garbage Disposal Is Broken?

If your garbage disposal is broken you can still run the dishwasher if the problem isn’t a clogged drain. If you run the dishwasher with a drain clog, wastewater may back up in the sink or dishwasher. A broken motor, jammed blades, or disposal that leaks or doesn’t run won’t affect the dishwasher.

Dishwashers operate independently of garbage disposals, but they share the same drainage system. Therefore, if you have a malfunctioning garbage disposal, using the dishwasher is safe as long as the sink drains properly.

If water is backing up into the sink, however, the drainpipe (shared by the sink, dishwasher, and garbage disposal) likely needs unclogging.

Some problems with a garbage disposal that do not affect the dishwasher include:

  • Jammed Blades – Sometimes, dishwasher blades end up jammed, usually due to rust or the presence of an object such as a utensil or a large piece of food. This issue doesn’t typically cause problems with drainage, so it shouldn’t affect the dishwasher.
  • Garbage Disposal Won’t Run – Electrical issues or a burnt-up motor may cause a garbage disposal to stop running. These problems do not affect the dishwasher, so it’s still safe to use in this situation.
  • Leaky Garbage Disposal – Now and then, a garbage disposal may leak due to a faulty connection or cracks in the pipes. It’s unlikely that this will cause issues with the dishwasher. However, leaky pipes may cause mold development, so it’s essential to fix them immediately.

Does a Clogged Garbage Disposal Affect Dishwasher Drainage?

A clogged garbage disposal can cause a dishwasher to stop draining. Dishwashers and garbage disposals share the same drainage system. Clogged pipes or the accumulation of food debris within the line affect the disposal, dishwasher, and sink drainage.

There are dozens of reasons why garbage disposals experience issues with proper drainage, and it’s a terrible inconvenience. In some situations, wastewater from the dishwasher may back up into the sink when running the appliance.

Therefore, a sink with standing water or one that drains slowly is a good indicator of clogs in the disposal system.

Even though dishwashers typically contain valves to prevent backflow, major drainage issues can prevent them from working correctly. As such, if your garbage disposal is clogged, don’t run the dishwasher until you’re able to unclog the drainage system.

Does the Dishwasher Drain Into the Garbage Disposal?

Dishwashers drain into the garbage disposal system — in fact, the entire kitchen’s drainage system typically includes the sink, dishwasher, and garbage disposal. Any food debris from the dishwasher or disposal enters the drainage system, so any backup affects all of the kitchen plumbing.

When installing a dishwasher, plumbers typically create an “air gap” using a U-shaped pipe, turned upside-down. The pipe loop sits higher than the base of the sink, requiring pressure for water to get through.

When a dishwasher pumps water through this pipe, it goes through without a problem because the dishwasher’s pump creates pressure. Without this U-shaped pipe, however, water may get pushed back into the dishwasher, causing issues.

Can You Use a Garbage Disposal While the Dishwasher Runs?

You can use a garbage disposal while the dishwasher runs if the garbage disposal isn’t clogged or draining slowly. The dishwasher uses the disposal’s drain line, so a clogged drain may cause a backup. Also, be mindful of what you put into the disposal and follow the instruction manual.

If you’ve recently experienced drainage problems with your garbage disposal or dishwasher, it’s wise to ensure that the kitchen plumbing system drains properly before using these appliances simultaneously.

Test this by filling the sink with water and allowing it to drain. If it drains slowly or not at all, then it’s not safe to run the dishwasher or the garbage disposal unless you want to clean up a wastewater mess.

If the sink drains fine and both appliances seem to be in good working order, then yes, you can use the dishwasher and garbage disposal at the same time.

Draining a Dishwasher When the Garbage Disposal Won’t Drain

If you’re experiencing issues with a garbage disposal that won’t drain, you’re probably wondering when you’ll be able to use your dishwasher again.

Well, that depends on how soon you can fix it. Here are the two main ways to fix a garbage disposal that won’t drain:

  • Unclog the disposal. This is the obvious fix. Start by finding the location of the clog. Then, disconnect the drain pipes, clean them out, and run a plumber’s snake through the line, if necessary. It’s a tedious process, but it’ll get the pipes clear.
  • Add a separate drainage line for the dishwasher. If you want to use your dishwasher even if the garbage disposal has drainage issues, the only way to do so is by plumbing a separate drainage line for the dishwasher. This is easy with double-basin sinks — just bypass the garbage disposal and connect the line directly to the main kitchen drainage pipe.

If you’re not sure what you’re doing, you should hire a licensed plumber to get the job.

Why Does My Garbage Disposal Smell When the Dishwasher Runs?

Your garbage disposal may smell foul when the dishwasher runs if the dishwasher’s filters are dirty. A sulfur-like odor may result from a blockage in the drain pipe (especially if it’s a build-up of food particles). Clean the filters, unclog the drain pipe, and double-check the air gap.

Once you’ve fixed the problem, it’s wise to give the dishwasher a thorough cleaning. Sometimes, a garbage disposal may cause a bad smell in the dishwasher.

This is typically caused by an air break in the U-shaped pipe. When left unchecked, bacteria can accumulate in the dishwasher, causing potential health problems. Therefore, regular cleaning and maintenance are imperative for both appliances.


Dishwashers and garbage disposals both make life easier — but when they experience issues, it can completely thwart your daily routine. As such, it’s important to know how both systems work so that you can fix problems when they arise.

Also, prevention is key. Prevent issues by rinsing dishes before you place them in the dishwasher, running cold water when using the garbage disposal, and avoiding placing hard foods or grease into the disposal.


You may also be interested in… Do You Need a Special Sink for Garbage Disposal?Best Garbage Disposal For The Money (Powerful & Quiet Disposal) and Can You Use A Fan and a Dehumidifier at the Same Time?