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How To Clean Your Garbage Disposal

Very clean stainless steel kitchen sink with a garbage disposal. Running cold water.

Garbage disposals are among the easiest ways to get rid of food waste. They reduce the rubbish that winds up in your trash can. This can save you money on trash bags, all while keeping your kitchen sink from clogging up due food debris and other buildup.

Over time, you may notice a foul odor coming from your garbage disposal. If you haven’t been keeping up with regular cleanings, food particles or bacteria may have built up in the unit. This can result in some rather rank smells.

Fortunately, cleaning and deodorizing your garbage disposal is something you can easily do yourself. Follow this guide to get rid of the gunk and grime that create disgusting odors.

How often should you clean your garbage disposal?

You should clean your garbage disposal once per week or at least twice a month. If you let it go too long, food waste can cake and build up within the unit, resulting in the nasty aromas that brought you here in the first place.

Of course, if you’re having other problems with your garbage disposal, cleaning may not be enough. Look for these common signs your disposal is dying. When there’s a more serious issue, you may need a repair.

Did you know? Select Home Warranty has plans with coverage for garbage disposals. Plans are highly affordable, making them a great value, and quotes are completely free. Check it out!

What do you need to clean and deodorize a garbage disposal?

Citrus (sliced lime and orange), baking soda, glass of vinegar, and a yellow sponge.

The nice thing about cleaning a garbage disposal is that you probably already have everything you need for the job. There’s no need for harsh chemicals, as there are plenty of natural cleaners you can use to complete this task.

In fact, harsh chemicals like bleach are corrosive and can be bad for your disposal or pipes. Avoid using them entirely.

Instead, use the following:

  • Kitchen Sponge
  • Toothbrush
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Baking Soda
  • White Vinegar
  • Citrus Peels
  • Dish Soap

What are the steps for quick cleaning a garbage disposal?

If you’re looking to clean your garbage disposal quickly, it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.

Step 1: Run your garbage disposal.

Before you start, run your garbage disposal to clear out any lingering food scraps or debris.

Step 2: Place the stopper in the disposal and fill your sink with warm water.

Put the stopper in and fill your sink with warm water. Be mindful not to overfill it.

Step 3: Mix in some baking soda.

Add about a quarter cup of baking soda to the water in your sink.

Step 4: Remove the stopper and run the disposal.

Pull the stopper from the sink and run the disposal as you normally would.

What are the steps for deep cleaning a garbage disposal?

If things are particularly bad, it may be time for a deeper clean. Deep cleaning your garbage disposal shouldn’t take more than 30 to 60 minutes. Of course, this can vary and depends on how long it’s been since you last cleaned it.

Step 1: Run your garbage disposal.

Similar to a quick cleaning, run your garbage disposal to clear out any lingering food waste or debris.

Step 2: Unplug your garbage disposal or shut off the power.

You want to disconnect your garbage disposal from its power source when cleaning to avoid any accidental injury. If your garbage disposal is plugged into an outlet beneath the sink, simply unplug it. Otherwise, you’ll need to switch off the power at the circuit box in your home.

Once you’ve found the breaker panel, find the corresponding switch for your disposal. Turn it off.

Before you begin cleaning, try running the garbage disposal to ensure it’s not getting any power.

Step 3: Clean the sink and drain.

Rubber gloves are optional, but now is when you’ll want to wear them. Remove the rubber splash guard from the drain opening and get scrubbing. You can run water from the sink, if it helps, though you may find that applying a little dish soap to a sponge works much better.

Be sure to scrub thoroughly and remove as much debris as you can.

Some homeowners find that an old toothbrush is especially helpful for cleaning out those harder to reach places in the garbage disposal’s opening. Give it a try and see if that works better for you.

Step 4: Clean the stopper and splash guard.

Next, clean the stopper and rubber splash guard. Much like how you cleaned your sink and drain, use a little dish soap and a sponge to clear away lingering gunk. Be thorough and rinse repeatedly, as it may take a bit to clean it completely.

Step 5: Mix baking soda and vinegar in the disposal.

Pour a quarter cup of baking soda in the disposal’s main chamber. Next, pour in some vinegar. Let the chemical reaction do its work for about five minutes before running water to rinse it out.

Step 6: Rinse everything off and turn on the power.

Perform one final rinse of your sink, the inside of the disposal, the stopper, and the splash guard before plugging it back in or switching on the breaker. Run some cold water and test the unit to make sure everything’s working as it should.

How do you deodorize a garbage disposal?

Hnads cutting lemons with a knife on a cutting board. Limes are off to the side.

If a quick and deep cleaning of your disposal didn’t eliminate the bad smells, there are still a few more things you can try. The most popular method involves citrus peels.

Slice up some lemons, limes, or oranges and place the peels in the disposal. Then, turn on cold water and run the disposal. The citrus peels will create a refreshing scent, masking the awful smells coming from the unit.

Can I clean my garbage disposal using ice cubes and rock salt?

Yes, you can! Combining a mixture of rock salt and ice can dislodge many of the particles that are creating the unsavory odors that are coming from a smelly garbage disposal. Typically, you just need to pour some ice and a little rock salt into it.

Next, turn on some cold water and run the disposal for anywhere between 10 and 30 seconds. This should safely clear away many of the stuck particles that are causing foul smells to come from your kitchen sink.

What to do when cleaning isn’t enough?

While cleaning is essential to keeping your garbage disposal working its best, you never know what tomorrow will bring. Things can malfunction or stop working, no matter how careful you are with your appliances.

This is where a home warranty comes in, protecting you and your wallet against the costly fees that come with appliance malfunctions or breakdowns.

Select Home Warranty provides trusted coverage for all components and parts necessary to your garbage disposals function, regardless of age. If something goes wrong with your disposal, simply make a claim, and we’ll connect you with an expert to get things up and running again in no time.

Call us today at 860-288-4791 or follow the link below.