How to Clean a Garbage Disposal

ice is useful for cleaning garbage disposal chambers

One of the great things about kitchen sink garbage disposals is that they do a pretty good job of keeping themselves clean. That doesn't mean that you should neglect to clean yours, from time to time. So that begs the question, how do I clean my garbage disposal? We'll get to that, but let's first answer a few questions:

Do I Need to Clean My Disposal?

The answer to this question is a simple rule to follow: clean the disposal when it stinks. It's common for people (some might call them "neat freaks") to clean the disposal once a week, but that's probably overkilling it. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you smell a bad odor around your sink, and have you isolated it to the (bowl with the) disposal?
  • Is it a passing smell, or one that you have noticed repeatedly.

If yes to both questions, then it's a pretty safe bet that your disposal needs cleaning.

How Often Should I Clean My Garbage Disposal?

Because disposals do an excellent job of self-cleaning, there is no way to plan a reasonable timeline for giving it a manual clean. Over time, it will build up a sludge that is the root of the bad smell. Again, use your nose and sniff out those bad odors to determine if it's time to clean.

How to Get Rid of a Garbage Disposal Smell without Scrubbing the Inner Workings

You can clean your disposal the old fashioned way by cutting the power to the disposal and cleaning its parts (baffle, the walls of the chamber, etc.). But you don't always have time for that, so here are a few hacks for getting the job done without any elbow grease.

Ice, Salt, Vinegar, and Baking Soda Method

vinegar and baking soda are great for cleaning disposals

For this method, you're going to need:

  • Ice cubes
  • 1 cup of rock salt (some people use kosher salt)
  • 1 cup of vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of baking soda

It's a pretty simple process to follow:

  1. Fill the disposal with the ice cubes and the salt. The salt is good at knocking loose the dirty sludge in the disposal chamber.
  2. Run the disposal for about one minute (of course, always do this with warm water running).
  3. Then pour in the vinegar and baking soda and let it sit for about 15 minutes.
  4. Flush the system by running water through it, and you're all done.

You may want to repeat this process if it's been a while since you've done it.  Also, some people do the ice and kosher salt and neglect the second step. Others do the opposite. We recommend combining the two into one complete process.

There is no one right way to do this. This Howcast video resource showcases a similar process, but it differs slightly and can yield the same results.

How to Deodorize a Garbage Disposal

There are a couple of different options here:

  • You can use 1/3 cup of bleach mixed with 2/3 cup of warm water and pour it down the drain. Follow that up by running warm water for at least 30 seconds.
  • Almost everybody has heard of using citrus peels to fight bad disposal odors. That's because this is a tried and true method. Remember, it doesn't do anything to clean your disposal; it just masks foul odors. Put a few cut up peels in the disposal chamber, run some warm water, and flip the switch until it's all chopped up.

Save on the Best Brands for Garbage Disposals

It might be time to replace your disposal flange or the disposal itself, and if that's the case, you are in the right place. PlumbersStock has excellent deals on all the best garbage disposal brands that you trust, like InSinkErator, Waste King, and so on. If you have any questions about how to clean a garbage disposal or any related topic, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Related resources:
What Can You Put Down a Garbage Disposal
How to Use a Garbage Disposal
Wiring a Garbage Disposal in 7 Steps
Installing a Garbage Disposal
Garbage Disposal Buyer's Guide
Unclogging a Jammed Garbage Disposal
Garbage Disposal Won't Turn On
Water Leaking from Garbage Disposal

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