How to Clean a Garbage Disposal: Simple Guide for Top Freshness

how to clean a garbage disposal

Is your garbage disposal leaving your kitchen smelling somewhat questionable? Knowing how to clean a garbage disposal is crucial for keeping your kitchen smelling fresh and the device operating at optimal efficiency. Most of the time, clearing out a smelly garbage disposal is a simple task that you can DIY with just a handful of household supplies.

Provided you’re using it right, your disposal is a helpful tool for eliminating leftover food waste from a meal. However, even disposals that have been expertly looked after can become clogged with built-up grime and small food particles over time—leading to a fusty smell that no candle or air freshener can completely overpower.

Garbage disposals need between 5 to 15 cleanings per year, depending on usage. In this well-detailed blog post, we’ll explain how to efficiently and adequately clean a garbage disposal, keeping it running smoothly and your kitchen smelling fresh.

Importance of Cleaning a Garbage Disposal 


garbage disposal

A kitchen sink that emanates foul odors is a clear indication it’s time for a good garbage disposal cleaning spree. Regular cleaning can prevent food particles and food waste from accumulating, which can lead to offensive odors. This kitchen chore is more than just about eliminating a bad smell.

Regular cleaning of garbage disposals helps prolong their lifespan, prevents clogs in your drain, and is good for your household’s overall health. Unclean garbage disposals can breed bacteria and attract pests – an unpleasant surprise you certainly don’t need.

Furthermore, bits of food residue that lodge in your disposal can harden over time, causing food to breakdown slower and potentially leading to breakdowns.

Prepping for the Cleaning Process

Before you delve into how to clean a garbage disposal, gather these materials: baking soda, white vinegar, ice cubes, rock salt, citrus peels (lemon or orange), dish soap, and an old toothbrush or scrub brush.

Step-by-Step Cleaning Process

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to clean your garbage disposal:

garbage disposal

1. Unplug the disposal from the breaker box to ensure your safety while cleaning.

2. If your garbage disposal has a splash guard, remove it using a scrub brush and warm soapy water for deep cleaning.

3. Pour half a cup of baking soda into your drain opening, followed closely by one cup of white vinegar. Wait for about 15 minutes as the baking soda and vinegar method works to eliminate odors and break down residue inside the disposal’s grinding chamber.

4. Next, put two cups of ice cubes into the garbage disposal. Add one cup of rock salt to the ice. Turn on the cold water, and run the disposal until the ice is gone. The combination of ice cubes and rock salt will help scrape off remaining grime from the grinding components.

5. Take a scrub brush or old toothbrush and carefully scrub the inside of your garbage disposal. This will help remove any remaining particles or built-up grime that the ice and rock salt didn’t catch.

6. Rinse with hot water.

7. For a fresh aroma, run a few citrus peels (lemon, lime, or orange) through the disposal. The citrus will help deodorize the disposal and leave it smelling fresh.

Post-Cleaning Care

After moving through the steps on how to clean a garbage disposal, remember to clean your sink drain and disposal regularly. Keep your garbage disposal smelling fresh by grinding pieces of lemon or other citrus peels. Ice is also an effective way to clean your disposal. Whenever it seems to need it (typically every few weeks), freeze vinegar into cubes, and run few through the disposal.

Common Mistakes During Cleaning

A common mistake many make during cleaning is to use harsh drain cleaners or boiling water. These can damage the rubber components or your pipes. Always stick with hot water that isn’t boiling and natural cleaning products whenever possible. Also, avoid grinding coffee grounds and stringy vegetables like corn husks, as they can cause clogs.

Final Thoughts: How to Clean a Garbage Disposal

Taking the time to clean your garbage disposal can prolong its lifespan, prevent clogs, and keep your kitchen smelling clean. All it takes is a few simple steps and some household items to properly clean and maintain this handy kitchen appliance. Don’t wait for bad odors to waft around your kitchen–perform regular cleanings to keep your garbage disposal in good working order.

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