Why Does My Garbage Disposal Smell? And How Can I Get Rid of It?

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There is going to come a day when you enter your kitchen after a long hard day and be welcomed by a putrid stench. Garbage Disposal Smell Looking around for the smell, you find it not coming from the obvious trash can, but the kitchen sink.

But you did the dishes in the morning and there is no trash or rotting food in the sink itself. So where does the odor come from? If you look a little deeper you can find the answer.

The stink is most possibly wafting from the insides of the drain, where the garbage disposal is attached.

Garbage disposals are one of the most used convenient products across the US since the 1940s. Every house now comes with one installed under the kitchen sink.

Garbage disposals are designed to process and expel any trash and food remnants you put down the drain. The blades churn the waste into tiny particles that can be easily flushed out through the drain into the sewer.

But now you’ve come to find that the garbage disposal is the reason you are pinching your nose. And since you have never encountered this before the first question that pops up in your mind is that why does my garbage disposal smell?

Why does my garbage disposal smell?

Many homeowners, who have never come across stinky garbage disposal, would now know that a smelly garbage disposal isn’t the most pleasant. They check the entire kitchen, from the trashcan to the fridge before they find out and wonder why does my garbage disposal smell?

Drains and garbage disposals are designed to make your life easy and help dispose of any waste you throw in the sink. Since it is a convenient home product, it sees a lot of use and requires regular cleaning. Without it the garbage disposal can accumulate a substantial amount of gunk and food scrap debris, allowing bacteria to thrive and release odors.

But now when they have found that the garbage disposal is the culprit in stinking up the entire house, it’s time to find out why garbage disposal smells before we move onto fixing it.

There are multiple reasons why garbage disposal can start smelling like sewage:

The Garbage Disposal Needs Cleaning

Although it would be stating the obvious, still, this is usually the reason why garbage disposals smell.

New homeowners and people who have used garbage disposals for the first time can be unaware that garbage disposals require regular cleaning. But when it is left off the list the things-to-do is becoming easy for the waste dumped into the garbage disposal to get stuck in and around the blades. The food particles stuck to the garbage disposal starts to rot after a few days and become the reason why your garbage disposal smells.

Using Garbage Disposal as a Trashcan

Dumping stuff like trash, large food particles, fibrous food, bones, and strong chemicals down the drain without consideration is the most common reason why garbage disposals smell.

The most common and easiest mistake you can make is using your garbage disposal as a trash can. Since the name of both objects uses the same word, it does not mean that a garbage can is equal to the garbage disposal. The improper use of the garbage disposal can create clogs and blockages in the drains that start to rot over time and give a home to bacteria.

Dry P-Trap or S-Trap

Another reason why your garbage disposal smells is that the P-trap under your sink is dry and empty of water.

A p-trap is a plumbing fixture designed to use water in its bend to stop the sewage gases from leaking up the drainpipes. It is also intended to collect any debris which escapes the garbage disposal and falls into the drain; the water catches the particles and prevents clogs from forming deep within the drainage system.

A dry p-trap can result in odors and gases leaking from the sewage lines to leak through to the drains in your kitchen sink. A regular flow of clean water through the garbage disposal into the trap is necessary.

Sometimes the reason why your garbage disposal smells, is that the p-trap is not installed in the drainage system. Without a p-trap, there is no barrier between the sewage gases and your drain.

Ventilation Issues

Although it happens occasionally, another reason why your garbage disposal smells is that your drains and sewer lines have a ventilation problem. Sewage pipes around your house have pipes that extend upwards to the roof, where they release all the gases into the air.

These vents are open to the air and can sometimes catch leaves and debris that gets trapped in the pipes and clogs the airway. This regurgitates the sewer gases back through the drains and releases into your home through the drains.

If have been wondering why your garbage disposal smells like a sewer, then it most probably any one or a combination of the reasons given above. The odor emitting from your garbage disposal can become quite a hassle if not dealt with immediately. The smell coming from the drain can become even more pungent as the days go by and go beyond the kitchen, permeating your house.

It’s only the smell that can become bothersome to deal with. The gunk inside the garbage disposal creates the perfect habitat for bacteria and germs to grow. The bacteria are the reason for the smell, can also contaminate any dishes that you wash in the sink.

But that is not it. The food particles can become the source of attraction for insects as well. Critters like cockroaches, fruit flies, and maggots can use the gunk as a food source and infest your kitchen. And you’ll end up asking questions like, why are these insects in my garbage disposal along with why does my garbage disposal smell?

So now that you know what is causing the awful odor emitting from your garbage disposal, it’s time we move on to learn how you can solve the problem and deal with the odor coming from your garbage disposal.

How to Get Rid of Garbage Disposal Odors

The question of why does my garbage disposal smell is no longer a head-scratcher for you as you are now aware of the most possible reasons that can stink up a kitchen.

Dirty garbage disposal without regular cleaning can become the source of different problems besides the smell. It can cause an insect and rodent infestation along with posing as a potential contaminant for dishes and hands.

Although you may wonder that the reason why garbage disposals smell is not the same for trash cans. And why so much emphasis is put on the garbage disposal? The answer is that even though trash cans are technically like garbage disposal, they are emptied every day; while garbage disposals are ignored and the gunk sits in for multiple days.

And when that happens, every time you take a breath, you get confronted by a heinous odor that instantly sours your mood and triggers a headache. So it becomes imperative for your health and house’s environment that first, you know why garbage disposals smell and then how to get rid of the smell.

The remedies below will help you fight the odors and filth coming from your sink and save you asking why does my garbage disposal smell, in the future.

Ice Cubes and Salt

To fight the smell and clean your garbage disposal, ice cubes might come as a surprising solution to the problem. But it works just as efficiently.

Although ice cubes don’t leave behind a smell of their own, they get rid of the gunk which causes the smell to emit from your garbage disposal. It can be used in two ways, both effective in removing and disposing of off the gunk that causes the smell.

One way you can do this is by putting two cups of ice cubes down the garbage disposal and adding one cup of rock salt on top; if you don’t have rock salt then regular table salt will work just as well. Turn the garbage disposal on and let it run until the noise from the blades cutting the ice stops.

If you don’t want to use salt then substitute it with cleaning vinegar or synthetic white vinegar. To 2 cups of ice cubes, 1 cup of vinegar will suffice. Pour the ice down the drain first and then pour the vinegar over them and turn the disposal on until the ice is shredded completely.

The blades of the garbage disposal shred the ice cubes into tiny shard that hits the gunk caked around the drain like shrapnel and dislodges it. An added benefit of using this method is that the ice is also effective in sharpening the blades.

yay-12500384-digital.jpgDish Soap and Hot Water

You might wonder that the pungent smell that made you ask “why my garbage disposal smells” can be eliminated with only hot water and dish soap. But for the majority of the muck caked around the garbage disposal, a combination of hot water and dish soap is enough.

The heat from the hot water melts breaks the bonds and loosens the food particles stuck on the blades and pipe walls. The dish soap is great as additional strength in removing any grease accumulation. You can employ this method in two ways:

One way you can do this is by closing the drain of the sink with a stopper and filling it with hot water. Add a few squirts of dish soap and mix it in. then remove the drain stopper and let the water flush down. The pressure in combination with the hot water makes the gunk loosen up and flush out more thoroughly.







yay-4361423-digital.jpgCitrus Fruits

If you’d like your garbage disposal to not only be free of the acrid odor but also have a fresh citrusy scent, then this remedy is perfect you.

But keep in mind that citrus fruits are enough alone to remove the gunk off the garbage disposal and drains. Use this remedy as to a follow up to another remedy that cleans the drains more effectively.

The remedy only requires a lemon or any other citrus fruits of your choice and a knife. All you have to do is slice the fruit into ¼ inch slices and remove the seeds, as they might do more harm than good. Then just throw the lemon slices down the garbage disposal and run the garbage disposal until the noise stops.

The citric acid coats the blades and drainpipes and leaves a fresh smell behind.



Baking Soda and Vinegar

yay-24086524-digital.jpg A simple chemical reaction using items that can are a staple in many pantries. All you need is ½ cup of baking soda and one cup of vinegar.

Add the baking soda to the garbage disposal and let it sit for an hour at least and avoid using the sink in the meanwhile. The baking soda will absorb the wet gunk and the odors emitted by the bacteria.

After the hour passes you can add a cup of white vinegar and let it fizzle for about 10 minutes. The chemical reaction loosens dried gunk and separates it from the pipes and blades. Then turn the garbage disposal on and flush with hot water for 1 minute.





yay-4566398-digital.jpgClean the Baffle and Lid

Garbage disposal and drain systems have hard to reach areas that you can’t clean very easily. Some of the food particles bounce off of the blades and stick to the underside of the lid and baffle.

Remove the baffle from the garbage disposal and clean it with a toothbrush and dish soap. If the gunk is harder to remove just with a brush, then first soak the parts in a hot water to loosen some of the particles and then rub them clean.





Garbage Disposal SmellUse Drain Cleaners

If the home remedies don’t work and the odors are still not gone, it might be an indicator of your garbage disposal requiring a deeper cleaning with stronger solutions.

You can find solutions and liquids that are specially made to clean heavily soiled drains and garbage disposals. There are a variety of products available at hardware stores that can help remove and clean your kitchen garbage disposal.

But before you go on ahead to a home improvement shop and buy a cleaner, make sure your garbage disposal is compatible with it. Many times the user’s manual that comes with the garbage disposal contains instructions on how to clean the unit. It also mentions what formulae are safe to use with the garbage disposal and which can cause damage.

To maintain the lifespan of your garbage disposal and prevent it from producing pungent odors in the first place, daily flushing and weekly deep clean is imperative.

With all the information provided above the question, why does my garbage disposal smell, shouldn’t cause you any worry. You now have the information to know why your garbage disposal is smelly, and how you can get rid of it. Try them out and see the results for yourself.

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