How to Clean Garbage Disposal Cleanzen Infographic


Food debris can collect in the garbage disposal if it is not thoroughly rinsed after each use. This debris can rot and create unpleasant odors.


If your disposal smells less than pleasant, it’s time to address it. Here are a few easy steps to clean your garbage disposal and prevent a stinky smell from lingering in your kitchen sink and drain.


How a Garbage Disposal Works?


Your garbage disposal does the hard work of grinding up food waste so that it can wash down the drain without clogging the pipe. While there are other ways to dispose of food waste, many people prefer the convenience provided by a garbage disposal.


The food waste can be washed into the disposal at the same time the dishes are rinsed and prepped for the dishwasher, eliminating a step from the dishwashing process. Check out this video and discover how your garbage disposal works.



As the food waste is pushed down into the disposal, it enters a storage chamber. This chamber is lined with a grind ring and has a disc with metal lugs that spins rapidly. As it spins, the food waste is ground up.


However, odors can permeate from the garbage disposal, ultimately making your entire kitchen smell bad. What can you do about a smelly garbage disposal? Keep reading


How to Clean Garbage Disposal


Here are three natural and effective ways that you can use to clean and eliminate unpleasant odors from your garbage disposal.


Vinegar & Baking Soda


One of the most effective ways to clean a garbage disposal is with baking soda and vinegar. When they combine, they create scrubbing bubbles with odor-eliminating capabilities. Allow a half-cup of baking soda to sit inside the garbage disposal for 30 minutes. Then, pour a full cup of white vinegar down the drain, and allow this to sit for another 10 minutes. After the time has passed, turn on the garbage disposal and the cold water tap. About after 10 seconds, turn off the garbage disposal as the water continues to run. Then run for another 10 seconds, turn the water off.




Citrus has deodorizing properties, and it is also acidic. To clean your garbage disposal with citrus fruit, toss a cup of rinds from a lemon, lime or orange into the garbage disposal. Turn on the cold water and the garbage disposal. Allow the appliance to run until the peels are fully ground up. At that time, turn off the garbage disposal, and let the cold water run for another 10 seconds.


Salt & Ice Cubes


You can also use ice and salt to clean the garbage disposal. Cubed ice and rock salt work best. Pour two cups of ice and a cup of rock salt into the garbage disposal. Turn on the cold tap water and the garbage disposal. Run these until the ice is completely ground up. Then, let the cold water run for an additional 10 seconds with the garbage disposal turned off.


How to Clean Garbage Disposal With Borax and Mouthwash


Other solutions are available for cleaning a smelly garbage disposal. For example, you can add ½ cup of borax to the garbage disposal weekly to clean it. In addition, you can run mouthwash down the disposal. Mouthwash has antiseptic properties that essentially sterilize the mouth. Just as it sterilizes the mouth, it can sterilize the garbage disposal. Pour two to three cups of mouthwash into the garbage disposal when you notice smells.


How to Clean Garbage Disposal Splash Guard


Garbage Disposal Sink


As the garbage disposal runs, food debris splatters the underside of the rubber guard. It will stick there and rot until it is removed. To clean the guard, lift it up with one hand. Use a clean cloth dipped in warm water to wipe the underside of the guard. If you can reach the top of garbage disposal’s storage space, clean this area as well. A microfiber cloth is preferred for this project as it will not leave behind fibers that may clog the disposal or stick to it.




How to Easily Clean a Smelly Garbage Disposal Cleanzen Image of a Sinks Disposal


What Causes Odors in a Garbage Disposal?


The unpleasant smell coming from your dishwasher is related to food decomposition. Food can stick to the sides and top surfaces of the garbage disposal. It can also adhere to the underside of the rubber guard at the top of the appliance. If this debris is not removed, it will rot and emit smells.


How to Prevent a Smelly Garbage Disposal


While there are effective ways to clean a smelly garbage disposal, you may prefer to avoid the smells altogether. One way to do this is to use a microfiber rag and water to wipe down the rubber guard and the upper portion of the storage chamber. By removing the waste before it starts decomposing, the odors are eliminated.


What’s Safe to Put Down a Garbage Disposal?


Many items can safely go down the garbage disposal, but there are some that should never be put in a garbage disposal. Consumer Reports highlights items that should never be placed in your disposal, and these include:  fats, oils, and grease, starchy foods, fibrous vegetables and peels, eggshells, shellfish, coffee grounds and corn husks. These items can damage the garbage disposal and may ultimately lead to the need for a repair or a replacement.


The garbage disposal is only one of several areas of the home that can start stinking if they are not cleaned regularly. Our Boston cleaning team is ready to give your home the thorough cleaning that it needs, and we will happily return regularly to keep up with your chores.


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