If Your Garbage Disposal Smells Bad, Here’s What You Can Do

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When your garbage disposal smells bad, get rid of the odor—and bacteria—with these methods.

There’s no denying just how handy a garbage disposal is. However, if not tended to properly, these machines that are designed with the sole purpose of making our lives easier can become quite the nuisance. It’s vital that you tend to them often—not only to keep your kitchen smelling fresh, but also for general cleanliness. More than that, it’s wise to be preventative to avoid a stinky disposal before it becomes an issue.

What to Do When Your Garbage Disposal Smells Bad

1. Thoroughly clean the outside of the disposal

Though it may seem a bit obvious, the first thing you should do to resolve your stinky garbage disposal situation is to clean all the visible parts. Take a sponge or scrubber wand with a decent amount of dish soap and scrub the heck out of it. Pay special attention to the rim where food particles can get lodged in the grooves.

Do not clean inside the unit! You must unplug and remove it from the sink if you want to clean it manually.

Editor’s Tip: try using a toothpick to scrape out that nasty grime that builds up in the groove—and check out these other uses for toothpicks.

2. Flush the system

As we know, running water into your disposal while it’s on will not fill the entire system. In order to completely flush the garbage disposal, you should fill your sink halfway with water. Add some vinegar, and then pull out the plug while turning the garbage disposal on. This will cause the water-vinegar mixture to work its way through all the small areas of the unit that would be extremely hard to get to without dismantling the entire thing.

3. Use ice and salt

Pour two cups of ice cubes into the garbage disposal followed by one cup of rock salt. We prefer rock salt for its coarse texture, but kosher or table salt will work just fine as an alternative. Run cold water down the garbage disposal for 5-10 seconds while it crushes the ice. While being crushed, the ice will clean the blades of any slimy residue that has stuck to the blades, while the salt with help to deodorize it.

4. Use citrus as a natural deodorizer

Grab a couple lemons or whatever citrus fruit you have on hand, chop them up and toss them in the disposal for 5-10 seconds while running cold water. The acid in the citrus will help break down the grimy slime and naturally deodorize your whole kitchen.

Still have citrus peels leftover? Here are more ways to use lemon peels.

5. Combine methods

If you really want to get serious about it, freeze vinegar with chunks of citrus fruits in an ice cube tray. Put a cube or two in the disposal. Make sure you run cold water along with the disposal so no chunks of fruit get stuck to the blades.

6. Try a baking soda solution

We couldn’t talk about cleaning and leave out our tried-and-true baking soda cleanser. Simply pour two cups of baking soda into the garbage disposal followed by a half cup of vinegar. This will cause a fizzy reaction that somehow satisfies our urge to fully disinfect. Let the solution sit for one hour. When the hour is up, turn on the garbage disposal and cold water and let it run for at least one minute.

Here are some other ways to clean with baking soda.

7.  Use the Pink Stuff

The Pink Stuff is an amazing, do-it-all cleaning paste that’s perfect for cleaning a part of your sink that you never really see. We’re talking, of course, about the inside of your drain cap.

TikTok user @cleanwithmekayleighx posted a video showing how to unscrew your drain cap with a spoon, and the inside of hers was ridiculously gunky. Luckily, she also demonstrated the simple solution—pop the drain cap into a bleach solution to soak, and meanwhile, clean out the inside of the drain with an old toothbrush and some Pink Stuff. Then pull the cap out, clean it using the paste, and voila—goodbye, stinky drain!

Check out exactly how she did it:

@cleanwithmekayleighx✨ thank you @cleaningwithnaomix for the tip! this was so gross. I was really going to throw up.. #clean #cleaninghacks #schoonmaaktips #FYP #foryou♬ origineel geluid – Kayleigh Derbyshire ✨🤍

Keep Garbage Disposal Smells Away Forever

The best thing you can do for your garbage disposal is to prevent it from becoming dirty and stinky in the first place. To do this, avoid putting any fibrous vegetables down the drain such as celery, coffee grounds, egg whites and shells, pasta, fruit pits, potato peels and, of course, grease. (Here’s how to properly dispose of grease.)

You should also run cold water with your garbage disposal every time you use it to help it flush out any leftover debris. As an added precaution, it is wise to run the cold water and disposal for 5-10 seconds longer than you think is necessary.

With these simple and easy tips, you’ll be able to keep your kitchen sink fresh and clean! You might appreciate this top-rated Glisten garbage disposal cleaner, too.

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Kaila Harmon
Kaila Harmon is a California native who has a deep passion for writing that has been with her from a young age. She owns a small business in which she creates various handmade home decor pieces and novelties that showcase the beauty and humor in everyday life. Before owning her small business, she obtained a Yoga Teacher Certificate and has taught both yoga and meditation off and on throughout the past ten years.