How to Clean the Garbage Disposal Smell: A Step Wise Guide 

 December 3, 2020

By  Xion Lab

Is there an obnoxious stench wafting from the garbage disposal? If yes; it’s time to treat your garbage disposal with some good cleaning!

But before you dive into this, you must know how to clean the garbage disposal smell. And for this, you must get rid of the entire stinky food residue housing in the disposal unit.

We cannot deny or neglect the significance of garbage disposal. It is a great convenience that makes our trash bins job easier. It simplifies many kitchen activities. But sometimes, the excessive or improper use of this tiny remarkable built-in unit disrupts its functionality and lead to foul smell. In brief, it leaves us to ponder; how to clean the garbage disposal smell!

Not to mention, handling garbage disposal, emitting a foul smell throughout the house, can be quite unpleasant, frustrating or even embarrassing! Imagine, you have guests over, and as soon as you ha done with dish cleaning, you notice an acrid smell coming from the garbage disposal that soon spread all across the house in just a matter of a few minutes.

Isn’t it an awkward and uncomfortable situation to deal? Of course, it is!

And that is why we recommend cleaning your garbage disposal often or at least once a month. Having said this, we mean methodical cleaning of removal that helps in removing the stinky residue while freshening the surrounding.

So, how to clean the garbage disposal smell?

Well, you can do it instantly and quite effortlessly by following some simple steps. In fact, for your better understanding, this is what we will be discussing throughout this post. We will look at the different steps involved in the cleaning process. Also, we will talk about some simple ways to clean the garbage disposal smell by using a few commonly available ingredients or products.

While you may find the task arduous, it will take only ten minutes to finish the cleaning process. So without further ado, let’s drill into the cleaning steps right away.

How to Clean Garbage Disposal Smell by Following Simple Steps

Here are the top three steps involved in the cleaning of the garbage disposal. We have divided the steps into different tasks or measures so that you can ensure thorough cleaning without missing out anything.

How to Clean Garbage Disposal Smell | Step #1

This part of the cleaning involves different steps which help in removing the source of the foul odour.

Unplug the Unit:

The foremost step before starting any cleaning process, especially involving electrical units, is to ensure your safety. It means the first step is to unplug the garbage disposal before you decide to put your hands into the company or start its cleaning.

If you have unplugged the garbage disposal successfully, it’s time to answer the question; how to clean garbage disposal smell?

Well, the answer is; remove the residue or clog!

Remove Residue:

When you observe a smell coming from the garbage disposal, it indicates a clog in the unit. It is what causes terrible odour, and the only way to get rid of this smell is to remove the clog.

As already stated, never stick hands into the disposal unit, even when the appliance is unplugged or turned off as it contains sharp metal. To properly remove clogs;

  • Shine the flashlight in the unplugged disposal drain and locate the stinky clogs such as food particles.
  • Use tweezers, tongs or pliers to clear the blockage and plug in the appliance.
  • Now turn the water and disposal on and run it for a minute to clear the residue.

Soak the Disposal in Soap Water:

Since garbage disposal is all about draining and processing, it is necessary to give it some soaking and scrubbing.  Soaking helps in can clean to removing foul odour the removal thoroughly. All you need to do is to shut off the disposal drain by putting a plug.  Now fill the sink with soapy water – up to 4 inches – and swish the water around.

You can use any strong liquid dish soap for this purpose. After swishing, turn on the disposal and let the soap water drained completely.

Scrub the Disposal Parts

Once the garbage disposal is soaked, you can easily remove the loosened or housing food particles that have trapped for long. For this scrub the unit to dislodge possible stuck crumbs. Start the scrubbing by rinsing the scrub brush with water. Pour the right amount of dish soap on meeting and then scrub visible and accessible parts of the unit, including the inside of the drain and rim in the sink.

Scrub the Unit From Inside:

To scrub the inaccessible area of the disposal, put around ten ice cubes into your kitchen basin. Cover these ice cubes with around ½ cup of rock salt. Now run a slow water stream, turn the unit on, and push all the ice cubes into the drain. Now run the disposal until all the salted ice cubes are gone.

It is a loud and noisy step to follow. But the use of ice cubes helps to dislodge the inaccessible stinky food particles. In contrast, the salt help is scrubbing the unit’s impeller blades while eliminating the possible source of the odour.

Flush The Unit With Cold Water:

The final step of this part is to flush the leftover remnants and debris. For this run the cold water (full blast) into the disposal drain. Also, please turn on the disposal unit and keep it running for at least 2 minutes.

Quick Tip – Always turn the disposal on, after running the water stream and turn the unit off before you shut off the water.

As we have done with the first part of how to clean garbage disposal smell, let’s move on to the 2nd step of the process!

How to Clean Garbage Disposal Smell | Step #2

In this step, we will discuss different ways to deodorize your garbage disposal and get away from the foul odour.

Vinegar and Baking Soda:

We all know that baking soda is a popular odour absorber while vinegar, an excellent cleaner. The best part of this method is that both the ingredients are very safe to use, both for you and for the garbage disposal. Thus, to disinfect the disposal using vinegar and baking soda, pour around 2 cups of soda into the drain.

Now slowly pout around a half cup of white vinegar. Let this combination sit for almost an hour. Once done, turn on the disposal and water and keep running it for nearly a minute.

Vinegar Ice Cubes:

It is another excellent method that combines the scrubbing potential of ice cubes with the cleaning power r of white vinegar, to thoroughly deodorize the garbage disposal. Freeze an ice cube tray with white vinegar, overnight.

Once ice cubes are ready, remove the cubes from the tray and pour them into the unit’s drain. Now turn on the disposal as well as a low stream of water, until ice cubes are gone.

Freshen Up The Disposal With Lemon Peels:

In this method, we use citrus peels. They are effective cleaner and freshen up everything. That is why; we will use these great peels to deodorize our disposal. Once the process has done, your garbage disposal will smell like fresh lemons.

First juice a lemon and store this juice to use later for another purpose. Take the lemon peel and cut into at least one-inch chunks. Now turn the water and water disposal on and feed all the lemon peels into your garbage disposal. Feed only a few at a time so that your disposal unit doesn’t clog.

In this method, you can go with any citrus peel for deodorizing and cleaning the disposal, including orange, grapefruit or lime.

And this brings us to the last part of the smelly garbage disposal cleaning process. The next part is not just about cleaning the disposal unit once, but it’s all about keeping it clean in the long run. Let’s discuss it in detail.

How to Clean Garbage Disposal Smell | Step #3

This step involves different practices that will help you prevent foul odour in the future.
These measures will cut down the need to clean the garbage disposal frequently while keeping it fresh and odour-free at all times.

Avoid Putting Fibrous Food Items in the Unit

One of the proven keys to prevent foul odour in the garbage disposal is to make sure no one put in the fibrous food into the drain. This food can easily clog the disposal unit, jam the main motor, block the gutter and the leave out the smelly and rotting food stuck in your main drain.

Some of the examples of fibrous include artichoke, banana peels, onion skin, celery, and corn husks.

Always Drain Smaller Pieces

One of the biggest mistakes made by many homeowners is to put larger items in the drain. It is quite necessary to cut these larger items into smaller chunks so that can process it efficiently. A more massive piece of food is the fundamental reason for clogged smelly garbage disposal. It can increase the lousy odour up to an unbearable extent.

If you have large pieces of food items, cut them into one-inch cubes and then feed into the garbage disposal. As much as it is essential to put only smaller food particles in the removal, should also give the same amount of consideration to placing a smaller quantity of items and not all the food items at once.

Never Put Expandable or Starchy Food in the Disposal

Any food that has a lot of starch or that quickly expand when comes in contact with water is not recommended to be put in the garbage disposal. The primary reason for avoiding such food items is that they get very thick as well as sticky and quickly gum up the impeller. It only increases the problem and eventually led to the smelly clogged garbage disposal.

As stated earlier, you cannot continue to follow the bad practices after cleaning the garbage disposal. To keep your disposal unit efficient for a long time and to avoid frequent cleaning issues, you need to avoid these harmful practices. If you want to dispose of fibrous, starchy or larger food items, use trash bins instead of garbage disposals.

For your better understanding, bread, rice, pasta, and potatoes are some of the expandable and starchy food items that first make your garbage disposal stinky and later leave you wondering; how to clean garbage disposal smell.

Clean the Unit’s Blades Regularly by Using Hard Materials

Another major thing to remember is that your unit’s blades require regular cleaning. You cannot expect your garbage disposal to work efficiently without keeping their blades clean and unclogged. It is also essential to keep the disposal fresh and to avoid the acrid smell.

To keep your unit’s blades clean, run some hard materials through your garbage disposal unit, every few days.  Some of the recommended hard materials which easily clean the unit’s blade include chicken bones, eggshells, fish bones, ice cubes, small fruit pits etc.

Don’t Use Hot Water

When you are habitual to use hot water while running your garbage disposal, you are causing the problem to your unit. It happens because the heat liquefies the fat or grease that’s in the drain or the removal. While you might think of it as a solution to remove oil, it is not a lasting one.

When this fat or grease liquefies, it goes farther down the drain pipes. It means thickening of the inaccessible drain pipes and severe clogging. With time, this grease also starts to smell and cause foul odours.

 In a nutshell

Your garbage disposal is a convenience, and it should not become a distressing situation. You can ensure this by following the above-discussed steps. As now you know; how to clean garbage disposal smell, practice any of the given techniques or methods by following the three-step process and enjoy a freshened and efficient garbage disposal at all times.


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