How to Clean a Garbage Disposal

Water running down a sink drain with a garbage disposal installed

Garbage disposals get dirty with all the food and other items you toss down the sink and wash away, some dirt and food particles will remain behind. When they do, you may experience a foul odor coming from your disposal.

When your nose detects that foul odor, it is time to clean the disposal. The good news is, you do not have to remove the disposal from your sink to clean it. To learn how to do this task, just continue to read our article.

It has the information that will help you do a good job. Take a few minutes to make sure you know how to get your disposal nice and clean and avoid those foul smells.

How Often Should You Clean Your Disposal

This is a task that should be done regularly if you use your disposal a lot. The disposal will clean itself to some extent, but nothing is perfect and there will be spots where the self-cleaning action will not reach.

Those spots deserve your attention more than the other interior parts of the disposal. If you use your disposal often, then a weekly cleaning is needed. Other times, you may get away with cleaning every two weeks. The frequency of use will be your determining factor.

How to Clean Your Garbage Disposal

1. Gather Your Supplies

Yellow rubber gloves, vinegar, baking soda, spray bottle, and a lemon laying on a light orange colored background

Some of these items are optional and left up to your judgment. But to do a good job include some of the household items so you know the disposal is clean. You will need an abrasive sponge, 1/2 cup of baking soda, up to 1 cup of vinegar, dish soap, 1 cup of rock salt, 1/3 cup of bleach, and citrus peels.

All but the sponge and dish soap are optional.

2. Turn the Power Off

Finger turning on a light switch on a blue wall

Since you will be sticking your hand inside the disposal, make sure you turn the breaker off and unplug the disposal. This will prevent any accidents from happening.

3. Clean the Baffle

A garbage disposal baffle in a stainless steel sink drain.

The baffle is the little rubber part you see in your sink. It does not get cleaned by the disposal during the munching and crunching process so make sure you clean this part thoroughly.

Put the dish soap on the sponge and make sure to rinse often. You do not want to spread the food particles around as you clean.

4. Clean the Grinding Chamber

Person putting vegetable peels down the garbage disposal

This is where you will be putting your hand inside the disposal. Again use the sponge and dish soap to kill germs and get all the food particles off the blades. Rinse the sponge often

5. Add Baking Soda and Vinegar

person putting baking soda and vinegar down a drain

Pour the baking soda in first, then add the vinegar. The two elements will create a chemical reaction that will fizz up and spill into your sink. To stop that from happening, use your stopper to trap the fizz inside the disposal. That is where you want it anyways.

Wait a few minutes, then rinse the solution away. If you have two sinks, do the same amount of both items in the second sink at the same time and put the stopper in place. Then after a few minutes flush the solution down the drain.

Cleaning Your Disposal with Ice, Salt, or Vinegar

Close up of ice cubes in a bowl

This method eliminates the baking soda and adds ice and rock salt. You do not need both vinegar and rock salt so choose the one you have handy. All you do is first, fill the disposal with ice.

Second, pour either rock salt or vinegar over the ice and turn on the disposal. Run some water at the same time, and let the disposal chew up the ice. Repeat if necessary. That is all there is to it.

Deodorizing the Disposal Tip

Bottles of Clorox bleach on a store shelf

If the 2 methods described above fail to get rid of the foul odor, there are two more steps you can take. The first is to mix 1/3 cup of bleach with 2/3 cups of warm water. Then pour the mixture into your disposal and run warm water after it. That is all.

Or the second option you have at your disposal is citrus peels. Just cut them up or grind them into little pieces and mix with some cold water. Pour it into your disposal and turn it on.

The second option is a very temporary fix and does nothing to clean your disposal. It just adds a little fresh fragrance to the air.

Some Final Words

Kitchen sink with a gooseneck detachable faucet with 2 oranges on the counter next to the sink

Cleaning your disposal is a necessary task. This job keeps germs, bacteria, and foul odors away. The key to this process is to make sure the device is unplugged, and the breaker is turned off.

Once you are done, you will have the reward of knowing that your kitchen is spotless.

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