How to Clean a Garbage Disposal: Methods Step-By-Step!

Do you absolutely love the convenience of your garbage disposal, but hate the fact that the unit frequently smells unpleasant? Tired of the stale, gross smell of old food waste permeating your kitchen? Are you craving that fresh, clean scent your otherwise perfect kitchen once had? Then it may be high time you gave your garbage disposal unit a good cleaning.

If you own a garbage disposal and you’ve had it for a while, then you know there are times when it will begin to smell quite badly. Every time you grind up food waste, it leaves behind minute food particles inside the garbage disposal. It doesn’t matter if you have a top of the line garbage disposal with the best grind power, impellers, grind chamber, splash guard, build, and warranty. A garbage disposer deals with breaking down food waste, garbage, so it will eventually smell no matter how careful you are. Thankfully, there are some super easy ways to get that unit clean. Just follow these steps:

All Natural Garbage Disposal Cleaner Option:

How to Clean a Garbage Disposal

Gather together the following materials:

  • Lemon peels
  • Once cup of rock salt
  • Tongs
  • Two cups of uncrushed ice

Simple Steps:

  1. Clean your unit regularly.
  2. If you notice the unit starts to smell more often than you would like, perform a regular cleaning at least once a week.
  3. Add fresh ice to the inside of the disposer. Follow this with the rock salt. Both the ice and rock salt will grind up against the inside components and rub away minute debris that is causing the bad smell coming from the unit.
  4. Turn on the cold water and allow it to run during the cleaning process. Allowing the water to run will help in washing the undesired waste down the drain.
  5. Turn on the disposal and allow it to continue to run without adding anything else to it. This gives the unit time to self-clean.
  6. Turn off the disposal. Put in the sink stopper.
  7. Fill the sink up half way with cold water.
  8. Pull stopper and allow the cold water and the pressure from the built up water in the sink to free your unit from any additional debris.
  9. Cut up some fresh lemon peels, free of any fruit seeds, and put them into the garbage disposal.
  10. Turn on lukewarm water.
  11. Turn on your disposal.

Clearing and Cleaning a Clog:

  1. Unplug the disposer to clear a clog.
  2. Once you turn the unit off, if you see any objects in the disposer that did not grind or you notice a clog, remove the clog with the tongs. If you don’t have tongs, be save, and use pliers.
  3. Some units come with an allen wrench for clearing clogs when they occur. Follow the instructions that come with your garbage disposal.
  4. In lieu of an Allen wrench, pliers, or a set of tongs, you can sometimes clear the clog in the unit with a wood spoon or broom handle. See what the owner’s manual recommends.

Alternative Cleaning Solutions # 1

One method for cleaning a disposal calls for the use of white vinegar and ice cubes to clean the unit. Here’s an EXTRA HINT:

  1. Fill up some old ice cube trays with white vinegar.
  2. Pop the vinegar ice cubes into the disposer every time you want to run a quick clean through the device.
  3. Extra hint: Keep your vinegar ice cubes far away from your drinking ice cubes! In fact, get a plastic freezer bag and toss the vinegar cubes into it. Label the bag. Stash the bag of instant cleaning cubes in the freezer.

Alternative Cleaning Solutions # 2

Another easy method you can use for cleaning your odorous garbage disposal is to use baking soda in lieu of rock salt. Here’s how:

  1. Take about 1/2 cup of baking soda and put it into the unit.
  2. Take a wooden spoon and push the baking soda into the unit.
  3. Allow the baking soda to sit for an hour: This gives it time to absorb the odors inside the unit.
  4. After an hour, pour a cup of white vinegar down the drain: The vinegar reacts with the baking soda, bubbles up, and cleans the unit.
  5. Run cold water for one minute and the unit is clean!

Other Fresh Scent Garbage Disposal Options

In lieu of fresh lemon peels, there are other options for making your food garbage disposal smell fresh. Consider grinding up the following:

  • Orange peels
  • Lime peels
  • Apple peels
  • Mandarins
  • Tangerines

Dos and Don’ts for Clog Prevention & Handling

  1. Never attempt to put any part of your fingers and/or entire hand into a garbage disposal.
  2. If you cannot clear the unit with traditional at-home cleaning methods, contact a professional to care for the item for you. Check the disposal cleaning page by wikihow.
  3. Do not ever put chemicals inside the disposer to clean it. The chemicals can splash back out at you and you run the potential for self-injury.
  4. Do not ever add bleach to the inside of the disposer to clean it. Bleach can splash back out of the unit as well.
  5. Drain cleaner is caustic and toxic. Do not add it to the interior of the disposer. You may ruin the parts inside and you run the risk of injury.
  6. Never use hot water inside the garbage disposal since this can gunk up the inside of the unit with old food fats, grease, and oils. Then, the unit will start to smell all over again, and probably much sooner than it might if you had not used hot water.
  7. If you are clearing a clog, never do so with the power cord connected or the unit on.
  8. To keep the unit from clogging do not grind up things you should not, like corn husks or artichokes, which are fibrous.
  9. Never grind up glass or plastics.

Follow the above steps to ensure your garbage disposal always remains fresh and clean. But most of all, remain safe and follow all safety protocol when cleaning your unit! For more information on caring for your garbage disposal, check out Howcast’s video!

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