How To: Clean a Garbage Disposal
If your sink smells like the dumpster
behind a restaurant, take ten minutes to clean out your garbage disposal with
these freshening tips.
Consider the environment within the average
in-sink garbage disposal: It’s cool, dark, and moist, and there’s a near
constant influx of food that gets shredded and scattered about. No wonder it
gets smelly from time to time! To clean a garbage disposal and eliminate the
odor-causing bacteria, follow these instructions.
There are two cardinal rules when it comes to cleaning a garbage disposal. The
first is always to disconnect the power to the appliance before working on it.
The easiest way to cut its power is simply by unplugging it. Normally, it’s
plugged in to the wall under the sink. If you can’t locate the outlet, go to
the electrical panel in your house and cut electricity to the circuit
on which the garbage disposal is powered. To confirm that the power is off, try
turning on the garbage disposal.
Next, point a flashlight down the drain to
identify objects that may be lodged in, or wound around, the impellers that
macerate the solids sent through the disposal. Look for such things as bottle
caps, aluminum can pull-tabs, or vegetable fibers. If you find any, remove
these items with needle-nose pliers or tongs. Yes, the second rule of
cleaning a garbage disposal is never to stick your hand into the chamber.
Drop about a dozen ice cubes into the garbage disposal, followed by a half-cup
of rock salt. Restore power to the disposal, so that you can turn on the
mechanism while running water down the drain. Keep it on for about a minute,
until all the built-up grime and gunk has fallen away from the disposal blades.
Check the drain with a flashlight again. If the blades are clean, go
and shut the power back off.
Pour a cup of vinegar and a half-cup of baking soda into
the disposal. Let the combination fizz for about 15 minutes. In the process,
the acidity of the solution kills bacteria, including salmonella and E. coli.
Stick with the natural cleaners here; no toxic chemical should be used. Just as
bacteria can come flying out of the disposal, compromising the sanitation of
your kitchen sink, so too could a chemical.
While the vinegar and baking soda are busy fizzing inside the disposal, combine
the two again—this time outside the appliance, on the counter—to create a thick
paste. Put some of that paste on an old toothbrush, and use it to scrub down
the top and bottom surfaces of the rubber flaps along the neck of the disposal.
Those flaps are likely to be as bacteria-ridden as any other component. So
while you’re at it, think about giving a good scrubbing to the rubber parts on
your sink stopper, too, if there are any.
Now’s the time to engineer one final flush of the garbage disposal. First, plug
the drain opening. Second, run the water in the sink until its basin is about
three-quarters full. Add a teaspoon of dish soap, then finally remove the
drain plug, letting the water drain out all while the disposal runs.
If you use
your disposal daily, it’s a good idea to follow these steps once a week to
Step 1: With the disposal and faucet turned off, put six ice cubes in the
chamber followed by 1 tablespoon of baking soda, three thin lemon slices, and 1
teaspoon of bleach. Top it all off with six more ice cubes.
Step 2: Turn the disposal on without running water until you hear the
Step 3: With the motor still running, flush with cold water for 30 seconds.
Garbage Disposal Cleaning Tips
Did you know that your home’s garbage
disposal needs to be cleaned regularly? During use, food particles and residue
can be left behind and cause the unit to have an unpleasant odor.
The good news is that you don’t have to buy
special, expensive products to do the job. Your disposal can be effectively
cleaned with common items that you probably already have in your kitchen.
Learn some of the best ways to clean your garbage disposal with these 8 simple
1. Ice cubes
One of the best disposal cleaning
methods is with ice cubes from your freezer. Simply put a few handfuls of
ice into the unit, then turn it on and run some cold water while the cubes
grind. You’ll definitely hear the cubes working!
2. Ice and rock salt
You can also add a cup or so of rock salt
to the ice cubes for some extra scrubbing power. Remember to run cold water
when you turn the disposal on.
3. Baking soda and vinegar
A simple mixture of baking soda and vinegar
is also a good dgarbage disposal cleaning method. Sprinkle about a half-cup of
baking soda into the disposal, followed by a cup of white or apple cider
vinegar. Let the mixture bubble up and sit for five to ten minutes, then turn
on the disposal and run water to distribute the mixture throughout the unit.
Any type of citrus peel is a good disposal
deodorizer. Lime, lemon, orange, tangerine, and grapefruit peels will all help
refresh your sink and system. Be sure to cut the peels into small enough pieces
for the unit to handle, then turn on the unit and run water while the peels
You can also sprinkle a few tablespoons of
borax into the disposal, followed by running water.
Deodorizing a Garbage Disposal
If the disposal is really smelly, or you
have tried other cleaners and still get a foul odor, you can use a diluted
bleach solution of two parts warm water and one part bleach. Don’t use more
than 1/3 cup of bleach, and wear gloves when pouring into the drain. After
pouring the bleach solution into the drain, run warm (not hot) water down the
drain for several seconds.
Using citrus peels is another
popular way to freshen up a smelly garbage disposal. The citrus oils in
the peels certainly add some fragrance to the air, but the fact is, the peels
do little to clean the disposal, and they do nothing to get rid of those slimy
areas (which you’ve hopefully already cleaned with a sponge).
To give your disposal a little spritz,
grind a small handful of citrus peels (cut into small pieces) in the disposal
with cool water. If desired, you can also add a few ice cubes. The citrus
oil can give the disposal a pleasant smell that lasts a little while. Keep in
mind that this freshening method works best on a relatively clean disposal.
Ways to Clean
a Smelly Garbage Disposal
The convenience of a garbage disposal is
undeniable, as it simplifies a lot of our kitchen cleanups. However, frequent
use of it can lead to unpleasant odors. If you have noticed a less than
pleasant scent emerging from your garbage disposal, know that this is not
permanent. Ridding your garbage disposal of a smell is not a laborious task.
In fact, you probably already have all of
the ingredients to do the job. Here are nine tips on how to clean garbage
disposal, and get rid of those lingering smells immediately.
1. Clean the Visible Portion of the
Slather a generous amount
of dishwashing soap onto a dish wand or scrub brush. Scrub the
visible part of the garbage disposal. Be particularly aware of the joint where
the disposal rim meets the sink basin because small food particles and debris
have a tendency to get trapped there. Even mold can grow in this area.
2. Soak the Housing
It is always advisable to run the kitchen
faucet when you operate the garbage disposal. This helps your disposal get rid
of all of the bits of food trapped in the housing.
If you notice that your appliance smells
bad, it may be time to give the housing a thorough soak. Stop the sink drain,
fill the basin about halfway with water and then add a bit of dish soap or
vinegar. Next, unplug the drain while activating the garbage disposal. This
propels the soapy water through the housing, rinsing off its hidden nooks and
3. Dislodge Slimy Residue
Kosher salt is an effective abrasive
cleaner that can adequately dislodge slimy residue. First, pour a large cup of
ice cubes into the garbage disposal, switch it on while adding a half-cup of
the salt. The ice and salt combination should grind away what remains of the
odor-causing residue. This is yet another quick fix to a dirty drain using
simple items that you already have in your freezer and pantry.
Citrus fruits can help your drain stay
clean as well as act as a deodorizer. If you have an extra lemon, lime, orange
or grapefruit lying around, try grinding a few peels — or even the entire fruit
— to imbue the kitchen with a fresh citrus scent. Not only will this help your
kitchen smell great, but the rough peels help to clean the blades and the
disposal wall. The citrus oils do a fantastic job of keeping your garbage
5. Routine Flushing
Don’t wait for your disposal to start
smelling bad before you act. Garbage disposals require active and preventative
Turn on the garbage disposal and run a
thick stream of hot water through it for at least one minute. This should be
long enough to push particles through the pipes in your house. This is an ideal
method for reducing and removing odor, as it doesn’t require you to purchase
any extra ingredients. This is a tip that you should do after each time that
you run the machine.