The Easy Way to Keep Your Garbage Disposal Clean

A garbage disposal can make cleanup easy, but a smelly garbage disposal can stink up your entire kitchen. Sometimes, it can keep stinking even after you’ve tried to clean it. Food debris can easily clog your garbage disposal, too, and make your kitchen sink back up and overflow.

But you don’t have to live life with a stinky garbage disposal. It’s not that hard to clean your garbage disposal with safe, nontoxic items you probably already have in your kitchen. Salt, vinegar, ice, and citrus peels can all help your garbage disposal stay sparkling clean and keep the water flowing. Here’s what you need to know about how to clean your garbage disposal, how often to do it, and how to care for your disposal so that it needs cleaned less frequently.

Clean Your Garbage Disposal

Ideally, you should clean your garbage disposal once a week, although if you use it less frequently or carefully monitor what you put into it, you may be able to get away with cleaning it every two or three weeks. You can use salt and ice to clean your garbage disposal.

Fill your garbage disposal with two cups of ice and one cup of salt or vinegar. Turn on the cold water tap and run the disposal for five to ten seconds. The ice should clean any gunk off the blades while the salt or vinegar should take care of any odors. Alternatively, you could toss some frozen orange or lemon peels into your disposal instead. The citrus oil will clean your disposal and leave it smelling lemony fresh.

If you’re having trouble with smells that linger, toss in half a cup of baking soda and a cup of hot white vinegar. Let it sit for five to ten minutes, then flush the disposal with a quart of boiling water.

Wash the Splash Guard

If you’ve given your garbage disposal a good cleaning and it still smells, you may need to wash the splash guard. Slime, gunk, and food residue that accumulates on the bottom of your splash guard can be the cause of foil odors emanating from your garbage disposal. If you have a removable splash guard, you can take it off and wash it in hot, soapy water. Otherwise, lift up the flaps and wash them with hot water and soap until they are clean. Do this whenever you clean your garbage disposal.

Keep Your Disposal Clean and Running Well

To keep your disposal clean and running well, it’s important to care for it properly, and that includes keeping an eye on what you put into it. Your garbage disposal isn’t designed to chew up whole slices of pizza, and some foods are more prone than others to stick to the insides of your disposal or clog your pipes. Avoid putting any of the following into your garbage disposal:

  • Oily or greasy foods, since the fat can congeal further down the pipes and clog them
  • Large seeds, pits, or bones
  • Starchy foods, including potato peels, since they can stick to the sides of the disposal
  • Egg shells or coffee grounds, these can accumulate in your pipes and clog them
  • Pasta, rice, or other foods that expand when wet, since these can clog your pipes

When putting food waste into your disposal, make sure you put in only small pieces and only a few at a time. Give the disposal a chance to grind up a few pieces before you throw in any more. When you use your disposal, run cold water through it while it is grinding up food, and let the disposal run for a minute after its has finished grinding scraps, in order to ensure that the unit is completely flushed of debris. Every so often, toss an orange or lemon peel into the disposal to keep foul odors at bay.

It’s easy to keep your garbage disposal clean by grinding up some ice and salt or vinegar in the unit every week or so. Keep an eye on what you grind up in the unit to prevent clogs, smells, and other problems. With a little care and consideration, you can banish garbage smells from your kitchen sink, while still enjoying the convenience of having a garbage disposal.