How To Clean Your Garbage Disposal

How To Clean Your Garbage Disposal Banner Image

Your garbage disposal may seem like a magical appliance that makes your food disappear, but with each use, more and more food particles build-up, which can eventually cause your sink to smell. The good news is that there are some do-it-yourself methods that you can use to clean your garbage disposal before it starts to smell. Our knowledgeable plumbers in Gainesville, FL, at Quality Plumbing of Gainesville Inc., are here to teach you how to clean a garbage disposal

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What’s Causing A Smelly Garbage Disposal?

If you are noticing a foul odor coming from your garbage disposal, mold is likely to blame. Large food particles in the disposal can clog the drainpipe or get trapped under the grater. As these particles decay, they can create a breeding ground for mold and bacteria, which causes that nasty, persistent smell. 

What To Avoid Putting Down Your Garbage Disposal?

To help prevent any odors and to help ensure your disposal is working properly, certain foods should never go into the disposal. For example, avoid putting stringy foods, bread-based products, eggshells, bones, plastic, and cooking oils and grease in the garbage disposal.

How Often To Clean Your Garbage Disposal?

Depending on how often you use your garbage disposal, we recommend cleaning the disposal every 2ー3 weeks. You shouldn’t wait for your garbage disposal to start to smell before cleaning it out because it means that any food in the disposal is beginning to rot or mold. If you are someone who composts or monitors what you are putting in your disposal, you might not have to clean it as often.

What Should I Use To Clean It?

Vinegar & Baking Soda

You may have heard of a vinegar and baking soda volcano, but you may not know that this chemical reaction effectively loosens food particles in your pipes while killing bacteria and neutralizing odors. Using this method, sprinkle about half a cup of baking soda into the disposal, then add a cup of white or apple cider vinegar. Let this mixture sit for a couple of minutes, and then run the disposal along with some cold water. 


While bleach can be used to clean your disposal, it can be harsh and possibly damage aging pipes, so instead, you can use a small wedge of lemon. Cut a lemon into small pieces and drop them into the running disposal. Ensure that you are running cold water while doing this, as water helps flush food particles down with it. The lemon will not only clean the disposal but will also leave your kitchen smelling lemony-fresh.

Ice Cubes

Ice cubes can help dislodge stuck food particles while sharpening the grinders, but like the lemon, make sure they are smaller. To use this method, put a couple of handfuls of ice into the disposal while running cold water while the cubes grind. If you need some extra scrubbing power, you can add about a cup of rock salt to the ice, which can help loosen food trapped in the unit while the cold water helps flush it down.

Hot Water & Dish Soap

One of the easiest ways to clean your disposal is to use hot water and dish soap. Using the sink stopper, plug the disposal drain, add some dish detergent to the sink, and run the hot water until the sink is about halfway full. When you pull the stopper, run the garbage disposal and let the entire sink drain. This will help clean the upper parts of the disposal and the disposal drain line.