How to Clean My Garbage Disposal

We have said it in this blog, and you know it’s true that anyone who loves the kitchen knows how convenient the garbage disposal is. Although it’s often tiny and hidden under your sink, it clears most of your kitchen dirt and mess.

Most people often mount it and forget about it. Some people even use it as a garbage can which it’s not. This leads to more clogs and jams. Well, if you want the disposer to last longer and work efficiently, consider cleaning it occasionally.

Clean Garbage Disposal

With that said, you don’t clean the garbage disposal the same way you do with other appliances in the kitchen. You should use only select ingredients for the cleaning.

Is It Necessary Though?

Well, I know you clean every other appliance in the kitchen so similarly, you should clean the garbage disposal to prevent the following.

· The clogs

When you don’t care for the garbage disposal, the clogs will disrupt its operation eventually. Some of the problems you expect include the slow draining and not draining at all.

It’s worse when the clog is pushed to the drainage pipes because then a plumber must be called. You know what that means, you will spend more money on something you would have prevented.

Since garbage disposals are known for clogging and jamming, the brands insist on the need to avoid clogs and jams.

Here is one sign that you have a pretty bad clog in the sink; the dirty water and sludge backflows to the sink. If you have two sinks, you will notice that both sinks don’t work.

· Bad odor

Imagine having a clog formed in the disposer. The clog is mostly a result of the food waste buildup over a few days. Therefore, a bad odor is inevitable when you have rotten food waste in the disposer.

Sometimes there’s the formation of grease which then collects all the food residue to form a buildup, and ultimately it clogs it. While this is happening, the food waste continues to rot, and thus the bad smell is inevitable.

Have you ever thought about what causes the smell?

The smell is often a result of the bacteria, yeast, or mold growth. This is a good indication that your disposer needs you to clean it thoroughly.

· Pests presence

The moment the dirt has attracted the growth of mold, bacteria and sometimes even fruit flies, it starts to call pests. I particularly dislike cockroaches because they are hard to get rid of. With a dirty disposer though, they will start crawling all over the kitchen.

· Jams

Well, dirt is one major cause of jams in the disposer. When the dirt builds up on the blade or impellers, jamming is inevitable. Sadly, if you don’t take care of it sooner it may use much more money to unjam it.

Why Does My Garbage Disposal Smell?

It’s easy to tell that your garbage disposal is smelling. You may not be using it at the time, and still, when you go to the kitchen, there’s a strong rotten smell from the sink. If you don’t get rid of it, then it grows even further.

The good thing is that you don’t have to guess where it’s from since it will let you know. Sometimes, it smells so rotten that even when you are in other parts of the house, you will know the disposer is stinking. This is the best call for you to clean it.

But why would it smell, though?

· Clogs

We have mentioned in the previous subtopic that the worst culprit that causes the foul smell is the clogs. It only means that you have built up food in the garbage disposal and it has started rotting.

Sometimes, the clog forms from the rotten food you put in it. Regardless of the clogging reason, you must loosen and rid the clog for the smell to go.

Sometimes, people say that their disposer smells like sewage. The reason for that is that there’s a buildup of waste on the different parts. Therefore, you need to give it a thorough cleaning of the internal components and drainage pipes.

· Sometimes it’s a sewer ventilation issue

Sadly, the garbage disposal connects to the sewer system. There’s a tendency for the sewer line to clog from too much waste. When this happens, it gets the smell back to the garbage disposal.

In that case, the garbage disposal is just receptive of the smell though it has no problem. When you have tried to deodorize your garbage disposal, and the smell won’t go away, you may need to check deeper.

Also, if the smell is also coming through the bathroom, dishwasher, and toilet, you will know that this has to do with the sewer ventilation. Unfortunately, you have to call a plumber to sort you out.

When the Garbage Disposal Needs Some Cleaning

· It’s been long since you cleaned it

If you have taken long before giving the garbage disposal a thorough clean, it will begin to smell. The smell is often unbearable, which then forces you to clean it. Sometimes even without a clog there will be remaining food residues that can cause the odor.

· Grime

This is another culprit. When using the disposer, the grime builds up on the sides of the disposer. Sadly, even with daily cleaning, it might be hard to reach the grime on the sides; thus, the smell will stick on for a while.

· The leakages

In case the garbage disposal pipes are leaking, there will be a strong foul smell. This one needs you to buy new pipes for the same.

When Should I Clean the Garbage Disposal?

Your garbage disposal is your workhorse in the kitchen so you equally should remember to give it some TLC. The TLC will make it increase the lifespan. You should clean it every after a week.

But if you are keen on what you put down its drain, then you can thoroughly clean it once in two weeks. Otherwise, consider cleaning it daily after you use it with just the dish soap and water. This will keep the inner parts of the disposer clean.

Other times when you urgently need to wash the disposal is when there’s a clog. You will know there’s a clog if the waste is not draining. Sometimes the waste comes back to the sink, and for those with double sinks, the other side doesn’t work either.

Another one is the smell. When there’s a smell, then you should clean the disposer sooner. The odor starts mildly, but if you don’t clean it soon it will smell in the whole house.

What to Use to Clean the Garbage Disposal

There are so many methods you can use for the cleaning of the garbage disposal, and that includes the store-bought cleaners. Below are a few of the store-bought options to try.

Product name Star rating Price
Plink 9013 Garbage Disposal Cleaner and Deodorizer Check price
Affresh W10509526M3 Disposal Cleaner Check price
Disposer Care Garbage Disposer Cleaner Check price
  • Also, buy a brush for the process- Scrappy brush
  • You can also purchase pliers or tongs to collect utensils from the disposer.
  • Sometimes you will need the flashlight to see.
  • Dish soap

And depending on the method, you choose to use for the cleaning you will need the different homemade ingredient.

Cleaning the Garbage Disposal with Vinegar

There are several ways you can use the vinegar for cleaning the garbage disposal. Either way it helps to give your disposer a thorough cleaning and ultimately even get rid of the bad odor.

The vinegar ice cubes

It’s one of the popular methods of cleaning because it not only cleans but it also sharpens the blades of the disposer. And it’s simple to do as you only freeze the vinegar in the ice cubes as you would typically do with the water.

Once it’s frozen, throw it in the garbage disposal and grind it as you run some cold-water in. Flush the content out and switch off the disposer.

Baking soda and vinegar method

This method works if you have slow-moving drainage and simple clogs. It also gives your disposer a thorough cleaning. It’s way better to use this combination than using the store-bought options.

Things you need

The only thing you will need is the baking soda and the vinegar.

Process

  • You should begin by running some cold water in the disposer to make sure it washes away any particles remaining.
  • Next, take a half cup of baking soda and put in the disposer followed by another half cup of vinegar.
  • Cover the drainage with the stopper and let it rest for a few minutes.
  • This is a combination of an acid that will kill the germs and get rid of stains together with a scoring agent that will fight the bad odor. The mix creates a foam that will get the vinegar to all parts of the disposer. It gives it a thorough clean.
  • The mixture will form a fizz which assures you for the cleaning process is taking place. After the few minutes remove the stopper then flush the content out with the hot water. You should keep running the disposer.

You will have a clean disposer in a few minutes. But remember to do the same on both sides of the sink for an even cleaner sink.

How to Clean Garbage Disposal with Lemon?

This is the most basic method of cleaning the garbage disposal or even just the sink and its drainage. Both the rinds and the juice offer a powerful cleaning to the garbage disposal. It’s mainly the best to use in cleaning when getting rid of the odor.

Lemon and baking soda for deodorizing

This combination will give your disposal a powerful cleaning. You need half cup of baking soda and a half cup of lemon juice.

Process

  • Begin by mixing the two and you will form a somewhat paste-like liquid.
  • Run the cold water in the disposer and let it drain off.
  • Pour the content into the garbage disposal, and you will hear a fizzing sound.
  • Cover it and give it time to sit in the disposer for a few minutes.
  • Remove the stopper and run the cold water. Switch on the garbage disposal and let the disposer run for a little longer then you can switch it off. Then there you have a clean disposer.

Simple lemon deodorizing method

This is the easiest to do when you have the disposer stinking. The technique you start with is this when you have a mild smell.

Take a lemon or two and cut it to four pieces. Squeeze just a little bit of the juice and cover it for a few minutes to give the disposal a thorough clean. It especially cleans the blades and clears the food that may be stuck on its surface.

Put the lemon pieces into the disposer and run some water into the disposal as you switch it on.  This method will clean and freshen the disposal, and it gives you the best of both worlds. I like that you can do it even if you are in a hurry as it doesn’t take time.

Ice cube salt and lemon cleaning method

This is essential if you notice that the odor is excessive. In such a case, you may find that the blades have buildup, thus needing a thorough cleaning.

  • Put two or three tablespoons of salt into the disposal. Then add some water ice cubes followed by lemon cubes. You can also use the lemon juice for the process too if you wish.
  • Run the cold water to the sink and then turn on the disposal.
  • Let it grind for about a minute then flush it all out with the cold water running.

How to Clean the Garbage Disposal with Ice

This is another method to clean the disposal.

  • The simplest method is to make the ice cubes then drop a few pieces in the disposer.
  • Next, run the water and switch on the garbage disposal.
  • Let it grind it for a few seconds, and you have the clean disposal as well as sharp blades.

Use the ice and rock salt

The ice is going to help in dislodging the build-ups while the salt acts as a scoring agent.

  • So, add the ice cubes into the garbage disposal then follow it with a cup of salt.
  • Run the water and then switch on the garbage disposal to grind the ice.
  • Finish off by flushing off the content using cold water.

How to Empty the Garbage Disposal

Naturally, your garbage disposal empties itself. But sometime you may find that you drop some unwanted things into the garbage disposal and therefore you need to remove them. If you leave those things inside, then it will clog the disposer.

Also, there are times when you can see the clog forming a blockage. Therefore, you opt to remove it manually. Here is how to empty the disposer.

Use the pliers and plungers

When you can see the clog or utensil, you may be tempted to pick it by hand, but you should never do it. Instead, use the pliers or tongs.

  • First, make sure the garbage disposal is switched off. Then remove the stopper that covers the disposal unit.
  • Next, use a flashlight to see if you can see anything clogging. If you can see it, then use the pliers or tongs. This may be anything from peels to a small spoon.
  • Get a hold of the significant clog or thing and pull it out.
  • Go on to check again if you can see any more clogs. If you can pull out more, do it. Otherwise, it may be time to use the plunger to loosen the clogs.

A plunger is great at loosening the stubborn clogs. If you have run the water and the flow is still not right, use a plunger.

  • Let the water run so that it can lubricate the blades and clean any grime remaining. Then turn off the garbage disposal and cover the drainage.
  • Next, fill the sink with some water and use a plunger to seal to drainage.
  • Start plunging in and out rapidly. If it manages to create a suction, then it will easily lift the dirt or clog off.
  • Remove the materials and go on plunging until you have a smooth flow then switch on the garbage disposal to clear the inner chamber.

Step by Step Methods to Clean the Disposal

There’s no gadget that’s so easy to clean than the garbage disposal. But you have to follow the right process.

Switch it off

The first step is always to switch it off. You should never operate or start working on the disposal unit before you switch it off first.

Get rid of the blocks and clogs

First off, why are you cleaning the disposer?. Does it have a clog, lousy odor or you want to give it a weekly cleaning?

  • If it has a clog, you should check inside the disposal and if you can see a clog or any foreign item inside, use tongs to remove them. Never use your hands for the process, though.
  • Once you get rid of the clog, run the water to offer it a finishing water flush. Sometimes at this point, you can use even the plunger for a further unclogging process.

Cleaning the blades and grinders

The internal parts include the blades, flywheels, and grinders. You can now employ different methods to clean it.

  • Try with the primary method first, put in the ice cubes to cover the whole disposal unit, then add a cup of rock salt.
  • Next, run the cold water and turn on the garbage disposal. Let it crush the ice cubes for a few seconds. You should have clean disposal that also smells fresh.
  • You can then switch it off and use a disposer’s brush to scrub the inner parts and any other visible parts.

Finish off

  • To finish the process then, run the cold water into the disposer as you also run the disposer. This will get rid of any food waste that may still be stuck.
  • Let it run for a few seconds so that it cleans even the drainage.

Get rid of the odor

Many cleaning methods that will get rid of the smell.

  • But it doesn’t you could use the lemon.
  • Put the lemon rinds or the whole lemon into the disposal and run the water.
  • Switch it on and let it grind the lemon.
  • Once it’s done, let the cold water flush out the waste.

The fresh smell in the kitchen then resumes.

Bonus

Dont forget to clean the removal baffle

Some of the garbage disposals like Insinkerator come with a baffle. You should never forget to clean it. You can easily remove this baffle so that you give it a powerful clean like the other parts. Pull it then rinse it off the food residue.

Next, use the dish soap and water to give it a power clean. Finish off by rinsing it clean and wiping it then return it to place.

The P or S trap

The smell may also be because of a clog in the P or S trap. The P trap is a drainage pipe that connects to the disposal unit. They look like the letter S or P. Sometimes, the sludge in this space may cause a bad clog.

When this happens, then a backlog is inevitable. So, for it to work usually without smelling you need to clean the P or S trap.

  • To clean it, make sure you have switched off the disposer.
  • Loosen the P trap that’s often connected using the nuts and screws.
  • Now go on and remove the trap to give it a powerful clean.
  • Also, remove the debris by hand first then clean it the same way you do the garbage disposal with water and soap. Once you see that its clean attach it to place.
  • Run the water and if it’s still clogged now use a plumber’s snake to unclog it.

How to Clean A Rubber Gasket

Often when cleaning the garbage disposal, we forget the rubber gasket. Unfortunately, it may be the reason for the constant smell. Here’s how you can clean it.

The essence of the rubber flaps or gasket is to keep the food waste from splashing. Getting dirty for them is inevitable because you won’t reach them easily.

You can use a brush, water, and soap

As you are cleaning the splashguard, remove all the gunk and grime formed. Next, lift the splash guard and clean the rubber using the toothbrush and degreasing dishwashing soap.

Be patient so that you don’t spoil it but also so that you get rid of all the dirt. Also, you may choose to remove the gasket to give it a thorough cleaning. Check though if you can remove the gasket. You should get rid of the gunk on the underside by eliminating it.

Baking soda and vinegar

Another option is to use baking soda and vinegar. These two mixtures get rid of all gunk and grim. So, the cleaning process is as earlier mentioned.

Finish by rinsing it with the running water and then run the garbage disposal for a thorough rinse.

Deodorizing the Disposal Unit

There are various options you can use to get rid of the bad odor, some of which are popular and readily available in the house.

· Citrus fruits

This is the most common and primary method to get rid of the bad odor. Take either the orange, lemon, or lime and cut it to pieces then put it in the garbage disposal to grind.

Remember to run some water along though. This is the cheapest method that temporarily gets rid of the rancid smell.

· Baking soda and vinegar

This is the other option that will give your disposer a thorough cleaning and also get rid of the bad smell. Naturally, vinegar cleans various things in the house. When you add baking soda, it’s even better.

· Ice cubes

Sometimes ice cubes are just enough to clear the bad smell. Some people even freeze the vinegar to cubes and then use it to get rid of the bad smell. The good thing is that it not only gets rid of the bad smell but also sharpens your blades.

· Water and dish soap

If you have a dish soap that works to clean the grease from the plates, you are okay to use it. Consider making it part of the daily practice for effective results. After the grinding, you can wash the disposer with water and dish soap.

It will get rid of all the residue making it smell fresh every day.

Prevention of The Smell

It’s harder to get rid of the smell than it is to prevent it; thus you should work on the preventive methods instead. Below are the tips to include in your day to day practice.

· Let the water and disposer run a little longer

When the garbage disposal finishes working on the food waste, and you can hear a sound change, don’t shut it off immediately. Let the water and the disposer run for a few more seconds. The water will clean the remaining food residue.

· The rotten food

While the rotten food is not restricted, you should stay away from sending rotten food down the drain every time. It causes a bad smell. Some people prefer to throw it down their toilet. Well I throw mine in the compost.

· Know what to put in the garbage disposal

Although you are allowed to put the food waste in the disposer, not all food waste should go down the disposer. We have talked about the foods to put in and those that you shouldn’t put in the disposer in the previous articles.

Avoid pasta, oils, fat, grease, rice, fibrous foods, potato peels, and bones. They will cause clogs and build-ups that cause the smell.

· Cold water

Use cold water when running the disposer, not hot water. While the hot water is used to clean most gadgets, it will not give your garbage disposal a power clean. It instead melts the fat and oils making them stick on the sides of the disposer. It will then cause the smell.

· Wash the disposer regularly

You may assume that since you run the water in the disposer, you clean it regularly. But, unless you add in some gentle grease dish soap, it won’t wash. Use different store-bought or homemade cleaners for the same.

FAQs

Can you put drain cleaner down a garbage disposal?

Well, it’s not a good idea to use it in the disposal unit. It’s a sure way to damage it. This is one mistake we have had to learn the hard way. If you had functional garbage disposal then use the drain cleaner in it; soon it begins to leak.

Most manufacturers have warned that it erodes the inner parts of the disposal unit fast. If you use it in the disposer, the warranty becomes null and void.

If you can stay away from it the better but if you have to use it, only buy the one designed for disposal units. They often have guarantees.

Can you put drain cleaner down a garbage disposal?

Although it’s great when it comes to cleaning appliances and clothes, it’s not the best to use in your disposer unit. The only thing that you are allowed to use in the disposer is some of the homemade cleaning ingredients.

The bleach will corrode the disposer, especially since you don’t know the content. Some brands allow you to use borax. But use it only occasionally.

Doesnt garbage disposal use too much water?

Sadly yes. The garbage disposal uses a lot of water to grind the waste and wash it away. It will also use a lot of water when cleaning the disposer. If you don’t run the water first before grinding, the blades may get blunt.

Clogs are frequent with a disposer too. However, if you can use water in required amounts then you can try to wash away the clogs. Even in washing it you will need a lot of water to keep it clean.

This means that if you live in a place where water is minimal, then you won’t work with garbage disposal.