How to Clean a Garbage Disposal

Smelly Garbage Disposal? These Easy Steps Get it Clean.

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Ever notice your garbage disposal stinking up your kitchen? Or maybe it’s so full of sludge your sink starts backing up? Sounds like it’s time to clean your garbage disposal then make a point of freshening it weekly.

The good news is this is pretty simple task. Keeping it smelling sweet is easy, too. Okay, well maybe not sweet but it sure won’t stink. Ready? Let’s roll up our sleeves and get cleaning!

Pro Tip

Always run water when you’re using the garbage disposal, so debris goes down the sink drain instead of building up in the unit. Then wait for the blades stop spinning before you turn off the tap.

Steps to Clean Your Garbage Disposal

Think of your garbage disposal as a bucket beneath your sink with a drain line coming out of the side at the bottom. When you don’t run it, food and grease collect on the flat bottom and sit there attracting pests. That’s why it’s important to run your disposal at least once a day, then deep clean it at least once a month.

Step 1: Unplug it.

Look under the sink and unplug cord from the electric outlet. If you can’t find the plug, turn it off at the circuit breaker. It may be a bit extra, but it’s better to be safe than risk accidental activation while you’re reading inside.

Step 2: Remove lodged objects.

Slip on a rubber glove to protect your skin and reach past the splash guard’s rubber flaps into the disposal unit. Go slowly—those blades are sharp. Feel around for any hard objects and pull them out. If your blades were jammed, this will release them. Use needle-nosed pliers for stubborn stuff, then plug the unit back in.

Step 3: Flush and degrease it.

Get the hot water going full blast to liquify greasy residue then turn on your disposal and squirt in a few drops of liquid dish soap to flush away the loosened grease. After a minute, turn the disposal off, wait for the blades to stop moving, and shut off the faucet.

Step 4: Scour the blades.

Add a handful of salt and a handful of ice to your garbage disposal, carefully passing them through the splash guard. Press the splash guard flaps into place and take a step back so your face is not over the sink.

Turn on the cold water and run the disposal for a full minute so the ice congeals any remaining grease while the salt scours the blades and the water flushes the mess away. Turn off the disposer then the water.

Step 5: Clean the splash guard.

The previous steps were a good start to removing the buildup under the splash guard flaps. Now it’s time to finish the work. Scrub both sides of the splash guard with an old toothbrush and soapy water. Pay attention to crevice around the edge of the guard, too. Rinse thoroughly then press the flaps gently back into place.

Step 6: Rinse.

To finish cleaning your garbage disposal, turn it on and run the hot water one more time to liquify any remaining grease then switch to cold water for a minute to congeal it, so the disposal can break it down and keep it from sticking to your pipes. Turn off the clean garbage disposal, then the faucet, and you’re done!

Did You Know?

If you listen carefully, you can hear when the garbage disposal has nothing left inside. Let it run another 5 seconds after that.

Tips to Keep Your Disposal Fresh

• Run it with cold water after washing dishes. To keep buildup and odors from collecting in your garbage disposal, switch to cold water while running it after doing the dishes or making a meal. The cold water will solidify any greasy food residue so the disposal can grind it up and keep it from sticking to your pipes.

• Grind citrus to freshen it. Adding a thin slice of lemon peel when you’re running the garbage disposal helps freshen it. The citric acid in lemons is great for cleaning and deodorizing.

• Use the baking soda and vinegar combo. For stubborn smells, run hot water to liquify the grease then do the baking soda and vinegar combo. When the fizzing stops, run cold water and your disposer for a full minute. If you have a double sink, you need to plug the side without a disposer first. Switch sides and repeat for best results.

Pro Tip

Your disposal can only handle so much. Don’t put fibrous foods like onion skins or artichoke leaves in it.

So, be sure to run that disposal after doing the dishes, then deep clean your garbage disposal once a month to keep it working well so it doesn’t stink up your home.

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