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Garbage disposals are a plumbing asset that many homeowners fail to properly care for. When garbage disposals aren’t properly maintained, they can become an expensive repair down the road. The best way to avoid clogs and other garbage disposal problems is by regularly maintaining a clean garbage disposal. By being proactive about cleaning your garbage disposal, your unit can perform effectively for years without needing repairs or replacing. 

What's Causing a Smelly Garbage Disposal?

Your garbage disposal is supposed to be a convenience, but no one likes smelly odors. If this is the case with your garbage disposal, mold is the likely culprit responsible for the smell. If food particles are too large, they can either clog the drain pipe or become trapped under the grater or around the sides of the machine. This decaying food trapped in the moist and dark garbage disposal provides an ideal environment for smelly mold and bacteria to grow. The result is unhealthy spores and rancid-smelling odors. 

By routinely cleaning your garbage disposal at least once a week with the proper cleaning techniques, you can have an odor-free (and clean) garbage disposal.

Removing Garbage Disposal Odor

There are many non-hazardous ways you can clean your garbage disposal and remove any odors if your garbage disposal starts reeking like a dumpster. It’s recommended that you avoid using chemical drain cleaners since they can corrode and weaken the integrity of your pipes. These are some of the most effective ways to eliminate odors coming from your garbage disposal using products found at home.

  • Baking soda and vinegar- The acidity from the baking soda and vinegar solution is great for killing bacteria, including salmonella and E.coli. Pour a ½ cup of baking soda and vinegar down the drain and let the combination fizz for about 15 minutes. You can use the sink stopper to keep the solution inside the disposal. Wash away the solution by running hot water down the garbage disposal for one minute.

  • Citrus- Putting citrus peels down your garbage disposal is a popular and fresh way to combat any foul odors. While the peels don’t do much in the way of cleaning, the citrus oils produce a pleasant fragrance that wafts throughout the kitchen.

  • Ice and Rock Salt- Eliminating odors with this method requires you have the power connected to your garbage disposal. Before performing any further cleaning, make sure to shut off the power to your disposal unit again. Drop a dozen or so ice cubes down the drain and then pour a cup of rock salt. Turn the garbages disposal on while running the water. Leave both on for a minute until the ice and salt have scraped away and dislodged any buildup.

What to Avoid Putting Down Your Garbage Disposal

The best way to ensure your garbage disposal is working properly is by monitoring what food products you allow to go into the drain. Even though garbage disposals are great for removing excess food waste, there are certain items that can be harmful to your unit and create clogs or damage the disposal blades. Some of the food products that should never go down the garbage disposal include:

  • High fibrous or “stringy” foods e.g. celery and tough vegetables,
  • Expandable rice or bread based products,
  • Egg shells,
  • Animal bones and fat,
  • Paper or plastic materials,
  • Cooking oils and grease.

How to Clean Your Garbage Disposal

To ensure your garbage disposal is working properly, it’s important to thoroughly clean it at least once a week. It’s important to follow proper safety measures when cleaning or troubleshooting your garbage disposal. Here are the steps to follow to effectively make sure your garbage disposal stays clean (and not smelly!).

Step 1

ALWAYS turn off or disconnect the power to your garbage disposal before cleaning. Normally, you just need to unplug the unit from under the sink. If you can’t locate the outlet, cut the electricity to the circuit breaker powering the garbage disposal. 

Step 2

Use an extended cable or a sink auger to help break up and remove whatever foodstuffs are clogging the drain pipes or the disposal. Never stick your bare hands down the drain.

Step 3

Perform routine flushes by allowing a thick stream of hot water to run down the drains for one minute. This will help reduce and remove buildup of odors. You can also drop about a dozen ice cubes into the garbage disposal and let it run for about a minute. 

Don’t wait for your garbage disposal to start smelling bad before finally deciding to clean it! Your garbage disposal is a useful and handy tool that needs proper care and regular cleaning maintenance. Regularly cleaning your drains at least once a week is an important step to preventing any odors— whether by cleaning drains with safe products or hiring a professional plumbing company to perform hydro-jetting services on your entire plumbing system. 

Express Sewer employees are highly trained plumbers that can clean your drains safely and efficiently. Our company is fully licensed and insured and will provide you with a free estimate on your garbage disposal cleaning needs! Contact a representative to learn more about our extensive list of plumbing services!

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Topics: Home Plumbing, Kitchen Sink, Drain Cleaning and Repair