Knowing how to clean a garbage disposal is a basic household skill that more than pays for the time involved. Not only does a clean garbage disposal help prevent stinky drains, it can get rid of fruit flies, too. Here’s how:
Daily Garbage Disposal Maintenance
- To keep your disposal running smoothly, be sure to run it after each and every meal.
- Don’t put fibrous foods down the disposal (e.g., onion skins, artichoke leaves, potato skins) as these usually become lodged between the blades.
- Never grind bones, cigarette butts, utensils or plastic down your disposal.
- Dispose of foods that absorb a lot of water (e.g., raw rice or other grains, and pasta) in the trash. Adding them to your disposal risks having them swell and clog your drain.
How To Clean A Garbage Disposal
- Turn it off: You’d think this would be obvious, but I’ve actually seen otherwise intelligent people start reaching into the disposal while it’s running. Don’t be that person!
- Remove lodged objects: Even with consistent use, things like plastic wrap and bits of bone often accumulate in the disposal. Fish around in there with your fingers — see step one! — and pull that gunk out.
- Flush with soapy water: Run the tap on the hottest possible setting to flush the disposal. Turn the disposal on and slowly pour a little liquid dish soap down the drain. The water will start cleaning the blades while they whir.
- Add some ice and salt: Turn the disposal off and pour 2 cups of ice cubes down it. Sprinkle in 1/4 cup salt (table salt works just fine). Now, turn the cold water on and run the disposal to scour the blades.
- Clean the gasket: With the disposal off, scrub the rubber gasket using an old toothbrush and hot, soapy water. Be sure to pull the gasket flanges out and clean their undersides, too. It’s amazing how much gunk builds up there!
- Rinse, rinse, rinse: Once the gasket is clean, run the disposal again while switching between hot and cold water to liquify then remove any remaining greasy residue.
How To Deodorize A Garbage Disposal
- Use citrus: Add a few strips of lemon or orange peel to the disposal and run it with warm water to eliminate funky kitchen odors.
- Use baking soda and vinegar: For particularly stubborn smells, pour 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain followed by 1 cup of HOT vinegar. The combination will foam away lingering food residue and neutralize odors.
Cared for properly, your garbage disposal can last over a decade. Treat it poorly, and it’s practically guaranteed to break down on a holiday weekend right in the middle of doing the dishes. You’ve been warned.