how to clean a garbage disposal

Why Your Garbage Disposal Stinks & How to Clean a Disposal

Your garbage disposal works on demand to eliminate food waste, but when it starts to smell you know it needs some TLC. Why does my garbage disposal smell bad? Foul odors are often due to lingering food particles and clogs. Determine why your garbage disposal stinks and how to clean it.

What To Do When Your Garbage Disposal Stinks

Even with a thorough cleaning, a garbage disposal will continue to smell if the source of the odor isn’t addressed. We’ll detail how to clean and deodorize your disposal but, first, here’s how to identify why your garbage disposal stinks.

Causes of Garbage Disposal Odor

While the disposal grinds down food waste so it flushes easily down the drain, sometimes small food particles remain. If these particles linger in the disposal, they’ll start to break down. If the garbage disposal smells really bad, you’ll know these particles have started to develop mold as they decay. When food particles accumulate or there is a large piece of debris it can cause a blockage. These clogs not only increase odor but can lead to draining problems and disposal malfunctions.

The following problems can cause garbage disposal clogs:

  • Disposing of food waste in large pieces
  • Adding too many food scraps at one time
  • Putting the wrong foods down the disposal

Here’s how to perform a thorough cleaning and prevent odor’s return when your garbage disposal stinks.

Step 1: Unclog the Disposal

The first step in unclogging a disposal is ensuring your safety. Make sure that the garbage disposal is not only off, but unplugged. Even if there’s no power to the disposal, never put your hand in the drain when performing any kind of maintenance. 

Here’s how to unclog the disposal once its power is off:

  • Shine a flashlight into the drain to locate the blockage.
  • Use tongs or tweezers to remove the clog or food particles.
  • Restore the disposal’s power.
  • Turn on the water and the disposal and run both for 1 minute to flush remaining particles.

Step 2: Soak Garbage Disposal With Soapy Water

When your garbage disposal stinks, soaking it in simple soap and water can clean hard-to-reach areas.

Follow these steps to soak and scrub the garbage disposal:

  • Plug the disposal drain and fill the sink with at least 4 inches of water.
  • Add 2 tsps of liquid dish detergent and swirl the water to create suds.
  • Unplug the drain and turn on the disposal to process the soapy water.
  • Once the water has drained, turn off the disposal.
  • Apply an ample amount of dish detergent to a plastic scrub brush.
  • Use the brush to scrub the reachable parts of the disposal, including its rim inside the sink, the drain and the rubber baffle.

garbage disposal stinks

Step 3: Clean Disposal With Salt and Ice

Using salt and ice to remove food particles from disposal blades is an easy garbage disposal cleaning hack to address lingering debris. The ice removes small particles while the salt scrubs the blades clean.

Here’s how to clean a garbage disposal with salt and ice:

  • Place at least 10 ice cubes in the sink basin.
  • Sprinkle ½ cup of coarse salt over the cubes.
  • Run a steady stream of cold water and turn on the disposal.
  • Push the salted cubes towards the drain, slowly processing them until they’re gone.
  • To flush remaining debris, direct a strong stream of cold water directly into the running disposal for 2 minutes. 

How to Keep Disposal From Smelling

While cleaning should be part of regular garbage disposal maintenance, proper use and care can also prevent bad smells.

Try these tips to keep your disposal from smelling:

  • Dispose of food in small pieces: This allows the disposal to thoroughly grind each item so it can be flushed down the drain, preventing clogs.
  • Process items slowly: Avoid stuffing the disposal too quickly, as this can also result in blockages.
  • Avoid processing the wrong foods: Fibrous foods like banana peels and artichokes can clog disposal blades, while soft starchy items can swell when wet, causing clogs. Also avoid processing hard items like bones or pits that can harm disposal blades and block the drain.
  • Always use cold water: Running cold water in conjunction with the disposal facilitates draining and prevents blockages.
  • Deodorize with citrus: Periodically process 1-inch pieces of citrus rind to eliminate odor.

Whether your garbage disposal stinks or your oven isn’t heating properly, the team at Sharper Service Solutions can help. Call us for expert assistance with any kitchen appliance repair!

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