Help! My Garbage Disposal Stinks

[fa icon="calendar"] May 17, 2019 / by Home Services Expert

garbage disposal shutterstock_570683164Kitchens are a popular place to be. It’s where we cook all our meals and inevitably where people end up gathering when you have guests over. The last thing you want is for it to smell funky – it’s embarrassing and causes you to have to take precious time away from visiting with your friends or family because you have to find the source and clean.

We’ve all been in the predicament of trying to find out where that icky smell is coming from. You clean out the refrigerator, take out the trash, and toss the well-used sponge, but the smell still lingers. The stinky culprit could be your garbage disposal.

The convenience of a garbage disposal means that leftover food goes out of sight, out of mind. But after being disposed of down the drain, there can still be food particles left to stink up your kitchen area. So, what can you do to keep a clean, fresh smelling disposal?

Materials you’ll need:

  • Scrub brush or sponge
  • Dish soap
  • Ice
  • Rock salt
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Citrus peels

Step 1: Soak and Scrub

Plug the drain in your sink, fill the sink about halfway with cold water, and add some dish soap. Unplug the drain and turn on the disposal. As the soapy water drains, it will give the hidden parts of the disposal a good, long rinse. While the water drains, use your sponge to scrub your sink and the visible part of your disposal too.

Step 2: Get rid of particles and residue

Pour two cups of ice cubes and one cup of rock salt into your disposal. Run cold water over the ice and salt and turn on your disposal for about 10 to 15 seconds. The combination of the ice and salt help to break up food particles and get rid of slimy residue.

Step 3: Deodorize

Baking soda is great for absorbing odors and vinegar can be used to clean just about anything. Pour one cup of baking soda and one cup of vinegar into your garbage disposal. This will bubble and fizz, creating a chemical reaction to dissolve bacteria and food particles in your garbage disposal. Let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour so it can really do its work, then run a stream of cold water and turn your disposal on for about 30 seconds to rinse.

Step 4: Remove Clogs

After you’ve tried the first 3 steps, if your garbage disposal still smells, then there may be a clog somewhere that you can’t see and that needs to be removed.


Never stick your hand down the disposal - even if it’s turned off!

  • Unplug the disposal from under the sink.
  • Use a flashlight to shine down inside the drain to see if there are any blockages.
  • If you see something, use tongs, pliers or a similar tool to remove the blockage.
  • Plug the appliance back in.

Finish by running cold water down the disposal for a minute or so to give it a good rinse.

Step 5: Prevent future smells

Maintenance and prevention are the best ways to avoid a stinky garbage disposal. Following the tips below should help:

  • Clean your disposal on a monthly basis using the steps above.

  • Avoid putting certain things down your garbage disposal, such as grease, coffee grinds, oil, fats, pasta, bread, and potato peels.

  • Contrary to popular belief, eggshells, chicken bones, and small fruit pits are actually good, hard materials to put down the disposal because they clean the blades.

  • Run the disposal for 5 seconds longer than you think you need to so that you can make sure everything is completely disposed of.

  • Run cold water every time the disposal is on – hot water can cause grease to liquify and accumulate, causing blockages and odors – and keep it running for about 5 seconds after you think it’s done to make sure it completely rinses food off the blades.

  • Whenever you’re cooking with lemons or limes or peeling an orange, use the citrus peels to freshen things up by putting them down the disposal.

A clean garbage disposal means a fresh-smelling home. The last thing you want is for your guests to gather in the kitchen and be greeted with a foul smell, causing you embarrassment and taking time away from your visit because you have to get rid of the nasty smell.

If you’ve tried the steps above and think you have a bigger issue on your hands, or if you have any other home maintenance needs, contact Experts in Your Home – we do more than you think!

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