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How Can I Make My Garbage Disposal Smell Fresh?

You might be having a bad, stinky odor in your kitchen, and if you already took out the trash, haven't cooked any funky foods, and you're confident nothing inside your fridge is spoiled; the garbage disposal is the culprit. Even though garbage disposals are supposed to be self-cleaning, at times, food gets lodged inside the grinders, leading to odorous bacteria and limiting the efficiency of your garbage disposal and drain.

cut_up_some_citrusAlthough various chemical products could be applied to unclog your garbage disposal, you may want a more natural option, or just a less costly one.

Below are some of the natural approaches to clean a stinking garbage disposal unit and even more important, how to prevent your unit from getting clogged and smelly again.

Ways to Clean a Smelly Garbage Disposal

While using your garbage disposal, food particles and residue can easily linger, causing your unit to emit quite an unpleasant odor.

Your garbage disposal requires regular cleaning. Fortunately, you may not necessarily have to purchase the exclusive and expensive products to clean this unit actually; you could always clean it using standard components, which you probably have in your kitchen.

Use Natural Remedies

  • Boiling water: Boiling water, on itself, poured into the disposal, can significantly help to loosen the stubborn food particles stuck to its walls.
  • Baking Soda and hot water: Apart from being quite good for removing odors from pets, fridges, and under arms, baking soda additionally helps to deodorize garbage disposals. Baking soda can be used by merely pouring a small amount down the disposal unit, followed by warm water and since sodium bicarbonate is a natural deodorizer, it neutralizes and eliminates odors upon contact.
  • Hot water and dish soap: Using hot water and dish soap can be especially helpful after you notice an unpleasant odor emanating from your unit. Plug the disposal drains using the sink stopper, and pour out a generous squirt of dish soap into the sink, then run hot water until the sink is at least half full.

While releasing the sink stopper, turn your garbage disposal on, allowing all the contents to drain into the disposal unit while it is still running. In this method, the allocation is filled up with hot soapy water, to the parts that are rarely cleaned when using other methods. It also cleans the drain line, which commonly harbors food residue and leads to unwanted odors.

  • Ice cubes: using ice cubes directly from your freezer is one of the best techniques of cleaning the disposal. Simply pour a few handfuls of ice cubes into your unit, and then turn it on, running a little cold water as the cubes are ground. The ice cubes can even be heard working.
  • Ice & Salt: Adding about a cup of rock salt on the ice cubes provides extra scrubbing power. The ice helps to sharpen your unit’s blades while the salt contributes towards disinfection, a combination that readily gets rid of foods stuck between the blades or on the walls. In case you lack rock salt, both table salt and sea salt are sufficient. Do not forget to run cold water once you turn on your disposal.
  • Borax: You can alternatively sprinkle about two tablespoons of borax into your disposal, and then only run some water.

garbage-disposalMouthwash: Although you might not consider this a natural remedy, mouthwash is also active in eliminating the stench that emanates from clogged disposal units.

Dish soap and baking soda: Cleaning the drain crevices around your disposal and the plastic splash guard around the drain, are just as important, and you could use baking soda or dish soap for this. Use a toothbrush or dish brush to scrub thoroughly underneath the splash guard flaps.

The Power of Citrus

Citrus: All kinds of citrus peelings are good for deodorizing disposals. Lemon, tangerine, lime, grapefruit, and orange peels will all refresh your sink and elimination unit. Ensure you cut the skins into pieces that are small enough for the unit to handle and while the peels grind, turn the unit on and run water. On top of deodorizing, the acid contained in these fruits disinfects the walls and blades of your disposal unit, with rotting fruits providing the best results.

Baking soda and vinegar: For the best cleaning results, sprinkle about half a cup of baking soda into your disposal unit, followed by a cup of apple cedar or white vinegar. The chemical reaction helps to loosen any sticky food particles. Ensure you allow these chemicals enough time to react, they bubble up when reacting, then let this sit for about 15 minutes. Turn on your disposal and run hot water to distribute this chemical mixture throughout the garbage disposal unit.

Ice, vinegar, and citrus: You can also use, ice, vinegar, and citrus, with the high acidity helping to kill most bacteria, mold, and germs. You could even make vinegar ice cubes that have citrus peels.

How to Prevent a Smelly Garbage Disposal

Theoretically, garbage disposals are self-cleaning, and should stay clean and free of odor when properly utilized.

First of all, be sure always to run your disposal unit long enough, most individuals cut off their disposals once the grinding sound stops, allowing food particles to stick onto the walls and turn to a bacteria-ridden, stinky sludge.

It is best to allow your disposal to run for at least five seconds after food particles have been ground, and always run cold water while your garbage disposal is in use, hot water quickly causes liquefaction of grease and clogging of drains, if frequently used.

Secondly, be careful about what goes down your garbage disposal unit; stop using it as a trash can. It is additionally a good idea to have citrus and ice down your disposal, providing freshness. Never throw the following down your garbage disposal.

  • avoid-a-garbage-disposal-leakFibrous foods such as corn husks, rhubarb, onion skins, and artichokes.
  • Animal bones.
  • Plastic, glass, paper, metal, or cigarette butts.
  • Egg shells due to thin, sticky membranes.
  • Grease or fat that might harden causing clogs.
  • Coffee grinds, which reduce odor but might get stick to your disposal’s trap.
  • Foods that expand, such as dry pasta and rice.
  • A lot of potato peels, a little would be okay.


As we all know, maintaining your garbage disposal units clean allows for a comfortable atmosphere in the kitchen and above all, ensures we maintain quality health standards.

It is, therefore, paramount for all of us to apply the approaches as mentioned above to ensure health and safety. In case of additional queries, please contact Shamrock Plumbing & Drain Cleaning, Inc in Orlando, FL, at (407) 292-8881.

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