Garbage disposal disgusting? Food particles left behind by this helpful household appliance make it a prime place for mold and bacteria growth. When smells start emulating from this eviscerating appliance, it’s time for a thorough cleaning. How can you do it safely and effectively, without destroying your disposal?

How to Clean Your Garbage Disposal

It is recommended to clean your disposal once a week to keep it both smelling and running properly.

  1. Learn where smells lurk.
    Familiarize yourself with your cleaning territory: Smells can come from the plug/stopper, inside the pipes, within the disposal itself, or around or above the blades.
  2. Try these garbage disposal cleaning tricks.
    There’s more than one way to clean out a smelly garbage disposal. Tackle the situation with these kitchen cleaning tips:
    • Daily cleaning
      The most common reason for a gross garbage disposal is food particles left behind due to insufficient water use following operation. For simple daily cleaning, after operating your disposal, plug your sink drain, filling the basin halfway with water, a squirt of dish soap, and a cup of vinegar. Unplug and run the disposal as this mixture flows down, leaving the disposal on for five seconds after the grinding noises seem to have evened out.
    • Weekly Disposal Deodorizer
      Pour half a cup of baking soda into your disposal, followed by a cup of vinegar, adding slowly and letting the mixture fizz. (If you have a double-sink, plug the opposite side.) While this mixture if fizzing, bring a pot of water to boil. Very carefully, pour the boiling water down the drain to rinse away debris the fizzy mixture has loosened. Now fill the drain with 2 cups of ice, adding 1 cup of course rock/sea salt if you have it. Run the cold water, and the disposal. Finally, cut a lemon or lime in half, adding the halves to the drain one at a time, to deodorize your disposal. Repeat weekly, or daily if odors persist, until unwanted smells are eliminated.
  3. Get down and dirty.
    If smells persist despite the cleaning methods above, you may have overlooked cleaning a component of your system.
    • Clean the baffle/stopper/plug.
      The baffle sits in the collar of the disposal. Simply pull it out, rinse it off, and wipe it clean of food waste residue with an old sponge or toothbrush.
    • Clean the flaps.
      Scrub down the top and underside of disposal flaps with a baking soda and paste solution on an old toothbrush.
    • Clean the disposal chamber and blades.
      Refer to ‘Disposal Deodorizer’ from Step 2 above. Vinegar kills salmonella and E. coli, and is far safer if it comes flying out of your sink than chemical cleaners. Gritty baking soda, made fizzy with vinegar, helps loosen grime. The ice cube and rock salt combination likewise removes stuck-on debris.
    • De-putrify plumbing drain lines.
      Pour very hot water down your drains at least once a week to prevent the buildup up smelly, pipe clogging debris. Adding environmentally friendly drain cleaners monthly can also prevent odors and clogs.