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Step by Step – How to Clean a Smelly Garbage Disposal

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There’s nothing quite like the smell of rotting potato peels hitting you in the face as you walk into your kitchen. I know. I’ve had it happen to me and it was coming from my garbage disposal.

If you have a terrible odor coming from your kitchen, it could well be coming from the garbage disposal of your sink. All the benefits of this amazing kitchen appliance come with a dangerously smelly cost – unless you know how to take care of it.

In order to avoid such a horrible consequence, we need to keep cleaning our garbage disposal regularly (weekly). Once you have this information, your next question will be: “How to Clean a Smelly Garbage Disposal?” Following is a list of tips and techniques that will provide you with an odorless and fresh kitchen.

Steps to Clean a Smelly Garbage Disposal

Step 1. Remove the Source of the Smell

The very first thing that you need to check for smelly garbage disposal is a clog. Removing the blockage will enable you to start the cleaning process which begins by soaking the garbage disposal in soapy water. This will help in removing the trapped food particles that could well be the source of the smell.

After that, you need to clean the visible parts of your garbage disposal with a scrub brush. Once you have done that, scrub the inside of the appliance with salt and ice before flushing out any leftover remnants.

Step 2. Deodorize the Garbage Disposal

Now that you have eliminated the smell-causing particles, you need to get rid of the smell. For this reason, you require a combination of baking soda and vinegar. It is a perfect mixture for cleaning (vinegar) and deodorizing (baking soda) your garbage disposal. You can also use vinegar cubes for this purpose. In the end, use citrus peels to freshen up your kitchen by feeding them to the disposal. You can use the peels of lemon, orange, or grapefruit. [1]

What to do if Your Garbage Disposal Smells like Sewage (Poop or Urine)?

Place the plug of your garbage disposal in the drain and gather some warm, soapy water in it. Let the water extract the residual particles for a few minutes. Unplug the disposal and use a scrub brush to clean the inner parts of the appliance. This will wipe the loosened particles but this method is not very effective against stubborn specks. As a result, we have to take help from a technique called ‘Ice and Salt’.

A mixture of table salt and ice cubes is fed to the smelly appliance. In addition to that, you will need to add a small quantity of cold water to ensure smooth working. Turn on the garbage disposal and keep it running until the mixture is processed. Once the cleaning is complete, add any suitable deodorizer (Fabric deodorizers, scented soap dish, or lemon).

What to do if Your Garbage Disposal Smells like a Dead Animal?

Cleaning your sink solely from the outside can lead to this disgusting smell in the long run. The reason for that is the accumulation of the greasy particles inside the garbage disposal. Consequently, you need to make sure that the insides of your sink are also clean. For this purpose, use a paper towel to scrub the insides of the garbage disposal so that you could find the particles causing the nuisance. Avoid using that substance in the future to save yourself from trouble.

You also need to clean the rubber at the bottom of the appliance because it can also produce odor. Adding some bleach and leaving it there for a few minutes is another useful tool to disinfect the garbage disposal.

What to do if Your Garbage Disposal Smells like Rotten Eggs?

Sodium Bicarbonate is an amazing chemical for eliminating both acidic and basic odors. Similarly, vinegar is an ideal household item to destroy odor molecules. This makes the amalgam of baking soda and vinegar an extremely useful mixture for cleaning your garbage disposal.

All you need to do is to put a cup of baking soda and a cup of vinegar into the appliance. This mixture will act as a wonderful deodorizer by forming a lot of foam. Add some boiling water into the drain to make sure that the garbage disposal is clean all the way down.

What to do if Your Garbage Disposal Smells like Mold and Mildew?

Both mold and mildew like to grow in dark, damp places and nothing suits them more than garbage disposal. The growth of their spores clogs the drains which result in a pretty foul smell. In order to avoid this inconvenience, you need to make sure that your sink is completely clean.

For doing so, simply add some baking soda (about half cup) and vinegar (about 1 cup) into your garbage disposal. The reaction of these two commodities will produce an abrasive compound that will clean the appliance. Let this frothy substance settle for around 15 minutes. After that, run hot water into the garbage disposal for about a minute. Follow it up with some cold water (for a minute) after waiting for 5 minutes. You can also freshen up your kitchen by using deodorizers like lemon.

What to do if Your Garbage Disposal Smells like Burning?

The burning smell from garbage disposal refers to the overheating of the appliance. Generally, it is caused by a stubborn object that jams the grinding chamber. In order to treat this problem, turn off the unit and look for any visible clogging. In case you don’t find any debris, you can also try to rotate the grinding plates manually with a long object. Once you are confident that the plates are clear, turn on the garbage disposal and clean it with water.

In extreme cases, you may observe that the burning smell is still there. In such instances, it is quite possible that the motor or the capacitor is damaged. This may require new garbage disposal to counter this smelly issue.

What to do if Your Garbage Disposal Smells like Vomit?

The buildup of the junk inside your garbage disposal may give birth to a colony of bacteria that can produce a really irritating smell. As a cure to this problem, you can use oxygen bleach to clean your sink. You will need to feed the appliance with this chemical and let it stay there for approximately 15 minutes. While doing that, make sure that there is proper ventilation in the kitchen because the smell of oxygen bleach is not very comforting, either. Finish the job by rinsing the garbage disposal with hot water.     

Summary: Cleaning a Garbage Disposal

Cleaning methods will vary depending on the problem, but maintaining your garbage disposal with regular cleaning can help you avoid smell build ups in the first place. Baking soda and citrus peels are both great for maintenance.

cleaning a garbage disposal

[Video] How to Clean Out a Clogged Garbage Disposal