How to Clean Your Garbage Disposal (And Keep It Clean!)

Get rid of those pesky odors for good!

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May 11, 2021
By: Caylin Harris

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A sink and tap and washing up liquid in a white clean and organised sink and kitchen. The plates and drainer are organised and clean and the tap has water coming from it


A sink and tap and washing up liquid in a white clean and organised sink and kitchen. The plates and drainer are organised and clean and the tap has water coming from it

Photo by: Jonathan Kitchen/Getty images

Jonathan Kitchen/Getty images

It’s tempting to think that any food that goes down the garbage disposal just magically disappears — but, unfortunately, lingering odors pop that dream bubble pretty quickly. The good news is that with proper care and maintenance, you can keep demolishing food scraps without any mystery smells.

In the case of your disposal, less is more. Avoid abrasive cleaners and feel free to skip any products formulated specifically for a disposal. Chances are you’ve got everything you need to do the job in your home already.

How to Get It Clean

The culprit behind that stink? Stuck on food particles that haven’t made their way down the disposal or are stuck to the splash guard. The good news, getting those to detach is pretty easy. First, here is what you’ll need.

  • Baking soda
  • Scrub brush
  • Dish soap
  • Tooth brush or small long handled scrub brush (designated for cleaning)
  • Ice cubes
  • Lemon rinds
  • White vinegar

It might feel obvious, but it's important to note that you shouldn’t stick your hand in the garbage disposal or try to clean it while it’s on. (Safety first please!) You can still get it clean without doing anything risky. Start by clearing out any lingering food particles toward the top of the disposal with a handful of ice cubes and some lemon rinds. Place them in the disposal and once your hands are clear turn it on. Lemons help impart a fresh scent, while the ice helps remove stuck on food gunk. Run water afterwards.

If more cleaning is required, sprinkle a liberal amount of baking soda on the top of the disposal, pour in a cup of vinegar and let it bubble. Scrub with a toothbrush or scrub brush if needed and run the water to rinse it out afterwards.

On some sinks, you can remove the splash guard. If possible, do so and wash with hot water and dish soap. If stuck food is stubborn, a paste of baking soda will help scrub. If you can't remove it, use the toothbrush or scrubber, with soap and water, to clean under the flaps of the splash guard.

Now, Let's Keep It Clean

This is easier than you think! Make sure you run the water before, during and after running the garbage disposal each time you use it — this is to ensure food and splatters don’t sit in the top of the disposal. It’s also not a bad idea to rinse the bottom of the splash guard flaps with water when the disposal is off, too.

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