How To Clean Your Garbage Disposal?

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How To Clean Your Garbage Disposal?

A clogged kitchen sink is now a thing of the past with an efficient garbage disposal system. But like every household appliance, this electrically-powered device requires regular cleaning or will generate toxic mold and bacteria and potentially stop working.

Once the drainage or the sink begins giving off foul odors, it’s a sure sign to clean the garbage disposal unit without further ado. But is cleaning the garbage disposal unit cumbersome? Not really!  

In this article, you’ll learn how to clean your garbage disposal unit with what’s in your kitchen, lemon, vinegar, or baking soda. It’s an easy task that isn’t time-consuming. So, let’s start. 

Related: DIY garbage disposal fixes

Summary: How To Clean Your Garbage Disposal?

Garbage disposal is a great way to keep your kitchen clean and tidy. But, if it isn’t properly cleaned, it can become a breeding ground for bacteria. Here are some tips on how to clean garbage disposals:

  • Run cold water through the disposal for 30 seconds before adding food scraps. It will help to break down the food and reduce odors.
  • Use a stiff brush or scrubber to clean the blades of the disposal. Be sure to reach all of the nooks and crannies, as this is where bacteria can build up.
  • Pour a cup of baking soda into the disposal and let it sit for 15 minutes. This will help to deodorize and disinfect the disposal.
  • Finally, run hot water through the disposal for 30 seconds to flush away any residual baking soda.

Related: Water in Bottom of Dishwasher When Not in Use – How to Fix It?

Are You Supposed To Clean a Garbage Disposal? What if You Don’t?

Yes, you’re supposed to clean your garbage disposal. You might think that the compartment inside the garbage disposal stays clean. But it doesn’t. Every time you dispose of your food waste in the sink, your garbage disposal shreds the trash into small particles (less than 2mm in diameter), so they quickly pass through the drainage.

These tiny particles often clog the grinding compartment or the splash protection. And they can decay in the garbage disposal if not disposed of quickly. 

Over time, a smelly slime will build up in those spots as they won’t get cleaned by the garbage disposal. Thus, cleaning it is critical to keep it free from foul smells.

How Often Should Garbage Disposal Be Cleaned?

It is essential to clean your garbage disposal regularly to prevent foul odors and ensure it runs smoothly. Depending on how often you use it, you should clean your garbage disposal every one to two weeks. You can clean it more frequently if necessary.

Easy Ways To Clean Your Garbage Disposal System

Many readymade garbage disposal cleaning mixes and other products are available on the market—for example, powder cleaners, liquid cleaners, cleaning kits, etc. However, avoid using chemical-based cleaners if you’re looking for a safe and effective way to clean your garbage disposal.

These products can be corrosive and damage the disposal’s components. Instead, opt for a natural cleaning solution like vinegar, lemon, or baking soda. These household staples are great at cutting through grime and food buildup. Just be sure to flush the disposal with plenty of water afterward to remove any lingering residue.

Why Does My Garbage Disposal Stink?

Your garbage disposal is one of your home’s most frequently used appliances, so it’s no wonder it sometimes starts to smell. If your garbage disposal is starting to stink, you can do a few things to clean it and eliminate the foul odor.

First, try running some hot water down the drain for a few minutes. This will help to loosen any build-up of food or grease that may be causing the smell. If this doesn’t work, I have listed a few ways to resolve the problem below.

How To Clean Garbage Disposal With Lemon?

If your garbage disposal has started to smell bad, it’s time to clean it. Lemons are great for cleaning because they are acidic and help neutralize any odors. Plus, the fresh scent of lemon will leave your kitchen smelling great.

Ingredients You Need:

  • 1/4 cup of baking soda
  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice

Step-By-Step Process:

  • Prepare a thick liquid by mixing the above quantities of lemon juice and baking soda in a container or bucket.
  • Immediately pour the liquid down the garbage disposal, as it will start fizzing.
  • Let the liquid sit in the garbage disposal for about 5-8 minutes. If your unit is too dirty, increase the time. 
  • Power on the garbage disposal and run water through it for up to two minutes.

Your garbage disposal will get thoroughly cleaned with this organic DIY process. 

However, you may sometimes drop hard vegetable remains in your garbage disposal that may not get completely crushed. That’s how bacterial growth happens, and the system starts stinking. 

In this case, you will need to deep clean your disposal unit. Read on as I discuss how to do that. 

How To Deep Clean Your Garbage Disposal?

You’d require some additional supplies to be deep clean the disposal unit. These include salt, vinegar, ice, baking soda, and lemon peels.  

Note: These ingredients are worth using. The chemical cleaners that most people use to damage the unit’s metal components.

Step-By-Step Deep Cleaning Process 

Step 1: Power Off The Garbage Disposal.

The most critical step is to power off the garbage disposal. Not doing this may damage it. Pull the cord connected to a power supply outlet beneath the sink to detach from power or turn off the breaker box. 

Note: Make sure to double-check that you have unplugged the correct cord by trying to turn it on before starting to clean it.

Step 2: Clean The Splash Protection. 

The splash protection is made of rubber, with many crevices and grooves. And thus, it is likely to trap tiny food particles and oil under it. 

Clean it entirely using an old toothbrush and plenty of liquid detergents. Scrub the splash protection vigorously, particularly paying attention to the bottom, to clear all the remains or slime. You can even pull out the compartment of the drain to do so.

Step 3: Remove The Food Remains. 

Once the splash protection is removed from the garbage disposal, shine a torch light into it to look for any food remains that might have slipped away from the grinder. Use a pair of tongs to reach the garbage disposal and clear all the food remains. 

Safety Tip: Never use bare hands to do this, even if the cutting blades are not in movement. They are sharp enough to cause injury still.

Step 4: Pour In The Solution.

Take half a cup of baking soda and pour it into the garbage disposal. Let the baking soda sit for about 30 minutes. Then, add a cup of vinegar, and a foamy solution will bubble up in the sink. 

Allow this solution to sit in your garbage disposal for about five minutes. Then, flush down the solution by rinsing the sink with hot water from the faucet or a jar of boiled water. This chemical reaction will take out all the remains from the garbage disposal.

Step 5: Grind Up Salt And Ice. 

To wash the cutting blades of the garbage disposal and release any of the buildups, put back the splash protection, connect the cord to the power, and add in two cups of ice. 

Both ice and salt serve as a natural scrub. Add a cup of salt to the ice, pour in cold water, and start on the garbage disposal. Let the garbage disposal run until the ice gets crushed up.

Step 6: Grind Up The Lemon Peels. 

The final step of this deep cleaning process is to freshen up the garbage disposal with some fragrance, preferably citrus like lemon peels.

Put some leftover lemon peels or any of the citrus fruit peels into the garbage disposal. Add in some cold water, and turn on the garbage disposal. The result will be a fresh fruity fragrance throughout the entire sink.

What Is The Easiest Way To Clean Out Garbage Disposal?

Spread a cup of baking soda over the garbage disposal. Pour in a cup of vinegar and let it sit for 10 minutes. Then, start the garbage disposal and let the hot water flush out all the mixture thoroughly. 

Note: Alternatively, use some diced citrus peels.

How Do I Clean And Deodorize My Garbage Disposal?

The garbage disposal tends to accumulate food remains and stains very quickly. So, I recommend you clean it, even if the garbage disposal has not begun to stink. It will eventually!

Cleanse and deodorizing the garbage disposal is simple and won’t take more than a few minutes. And guess what? You don’t need anything beyond what’s already in your kitchen!

Supplies Needed:

  • 1/2 cup of baking soda
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1 lemon 
  • Ice cubes
  • An old toothbrush
  • Liquid dish wash 
  • Sink stopper (optional)

Follow these steps to clean and deodorize your garbage disposal.


Step 1: Loosen Up The Remains And Deodorize. 

The first step is loosen up all the remains stuck in the sink and garbage disposal. Doing this will kill most of the smell upfront. Spread some baking soda down the sink, but don’t turn on the water as it will wash it down. 

If the baking soda lies on the rubber gasket, use an old brush to push it into the garbage disposal.

Run all the vinegar down the sink and immediately put the sink stopper up the sink. When baking soda and vinegar are mixed together, they will fizz and squirt all over the area. This reaction will loosen up all the remains and remove all the smells. 

Leave the mixture in the garbage disposal for 10 minutes, then remove the sink stopper.

Step 2: Clean Out All The Remains.  

Wear gloves to avoid the mess getting on your hand. Grab a toothbrush and begin cleaning the rubber gasket and sink. Scrub all the visible components. Lift the rubber gasket, and clean the bottom. 

Don’t forget the area surrounding it.

Wash the toothbrush regularly with water to remove all the gunk sitting over it. Add some liquid dishwasher to the brush and rewash the entire area.  

Ensure that the soap covers up every area of the drain and garbage disposal. Once done, rinse everything to wash out all the soap.

Step 3: Sharpen The Cutting Blades And Freshen Up Your Garbage Disposal.

Now that you have cleaned everything, all left is to sharpen the cutting blades and freshen up your garbage disposal. Slice a lemon into medium-sized parts and dump them with lots of ice cubes.

Run the garbage disposal for a few minutes and add the lemon pieces to the sink with more ice cubes until they are flushed. 

The ice will sharpen the cutting blades, and the lemon will make the garbage disposal smell fresh. 

What’s The Worst Thing To Put Down On Garbage Disposal?

Now that you have invested in the best garbage disposal, you need to maintain it and ensure you’re not ruining it. The garbage disposal is not a trash can.

Here are some of the worst items you can put down on your garbage disposal. 

  • Fats From Meat

When it comes to your garbage disposal, there are a few things you should never put down the drain. One of those things is meat fat. Meat fat can solidify in your pipes and cause major clogs. It can also be challenging to break down, which means it will just sit in your pipes and cause problems if you have meat fat that you need to dispose of, put it in the trash instead of down your garbage disposal.

  • Coffee Grounds

Though coffee grounds seem harmless, they tend to get stuck to the damp walls of your garbage disposal and drainage pipes.  After some time, the coffee grounds attached to the walls will eventually build up to clog your garbage disposal and form blockages in your draining system.

  • Stringy Foods

Stringy foods can quickly get stuck in your garbage disposal, causing it to clog. Additionally, these foods can wrap around your disposal blades, making it difficult for them to do their job correctly. As a result, you may find that your garbage disposal starts to smell or produces strange noises. To avoid these problems, avoid putting stringy foods down your disposal. There are plenty of other ways to dispose of them!

  • Seeds

Like most people, you probably think putting seeds down your garbage disposal is a no-brainer. After all, they’re small and can just be ground up. Wrong.

Seeds can cause some severe problems for your garbage disposal. First, they can get stuck in the blades and cause them to jam. Additionally, the seeds can break down and release their oils into the water over time, eventually leading to clogs.

So, next time you’re tempted to put those leftover pumpkin seeds down the drain, resist the urge! Your garbage disposal will thank you.

FYI: Blunt garbage disposal cutting blades are less useful at breaking down all food waste.

Is It Ok To Pour Bleach Down A Garbage Disposal? 

No, it is not ok to pour bleach down a garbage disposal. Bleach can damage the blades of the garbage disposal and over time, the bleach will eat away at the pipes. If you must use bleach to clean your garbage disposal, dilute it with water and only use a small amount.

Is It Ok To Pour Boiling Water Down A Garbage Disposal?

Yes, you can pour hot water down your garbage disposal as it’s absolutely fine.  However, I recommend using cold water while grinding up the food waste and hot water while cleaning the garbage disposal.

Cold water will solidify all the grease, making it easier to laminate. Grinding up food scraps using hot water will liquefy the fat, which will only get clogged up in the drain.

When cleaning your garbage disposal with baking soda and vinegar, use hot water to flush all the gunk. Using cold water while grinding all the food waste will extend the life span of the garbage disposal by reducing plumbing and drainage issues.

How Do You Clean Garbage Disposal Without Vinegar?

Here’s the easiest DIY natural garbage disposal cleaning method if you do not have vinegar at home or don’t wish to use it. 

Step 1:

Throw some ice into the garbage disposal unit, add some table salt, and power on the garbage disposal until all the ice has disappeared. This will clear all the tiny food waste particles and oil buildup and sharpen the cutting blades. 

Note: Rock salt will also help. But it is not required.

Step 2:

Make a mixture using water and baking soda. Now, use a scraper or toothbrush to clean the rubber gasket at the neck of the garbage disposal.

Step 3:

Plug in the garbage disposal, load the sink with cold water and pour some liquid dish soap. Let it sit for some time. Then, turn on the garbage disposal until all the water is emptied. 

If there is any odor, spread some baking soda, let it sit for a few minutes, and turn on the garbage disposal again.


It is essential to clean your garbage disposal regularly because it can become a breeding ground for bacteria. Following the tips above, you can easily clean and disinfect your disposal.

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