5 Ways To Deodorize A Smelly Garbage Disposal

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how to get rid of garbage disposal smell in this white sink

Have you ever walked around your kitchen looking for the source of that horrid smell? You may open the fridge, look in the pantry, even check the dishrag and sponge to make sure that it doesn’t need a wash.

When you find that the smell is coming from your garbage disposal, there are some things you can do. Even though you can’t see what is going on in the garbage disposal all that well, chances are some grime and bacteria are causing the bad smell. Let us show you how to get rid of the garbage disposal smell.

Why Does Garbage Disposal Smell Bad

Garbage disposals typically start to smell when it is not cared for. If you don’t use your disposal or only run water through it, chances are you are not going to smell anything too bad.

However, when you use your garbage disposal, you will need to care for it. Here are a few reasons why your garbage disposal may smell pretty bad. 

Forgot To Turn It On

When you fill your garbage disposal with a bunch of organic material, don’t let it sit there. In fact, when we fill our garbage disposal, we never walk away from the sink without running it. Letting food accumulate in the disposal will make it smell terrible, and it will happen fast. 

If food has been sitting there for a while, you can run the disposal, and it will help to eliminate some of the smell, but chances are it will not eliminate all of it. You will still be left with some cleaning to do. 

When you do run the disposal, make sure that you run it long enough. When the disposal sounds like it is clear, let it run an extra few seconds. Those seconds could be what clears the blade. 

Know What To Put Down The Disposal

Another reason your disposal may smell is that you are putting the wrong things down it. Remember that the disposal is designed for more organic material and food. Don’t get into the habit of thinking that anything is fine to send down the disposal. 

In addition, it makes sense to stay away from vegetables like celery and also starchy foods like potatoes. They tend to linger in there a little longer and can potentially add to the smell in the disposal. 

However, you can add some eggshells and smaller fruit pits as they can sometimes help clean off the blades of the disposal. Overall, be conscious about what you put through the disposal, and chances are you will spend much less time getting it to smell better. 

Stuck Debris

When your garbage disposal gets smelly, chances are there is quite a bit of debris stuck to the sides of the disposal. Without using the proper cleaning methods, you will have a hard time getting this debris off the blades. 

The longer the debris sits there, the worse the smell is going to get. 

Too Long Between Cleanings

Even if you are not using your garbage disposal all that often, it makes sense to clean it. Just like you would clean your sink once a week, you may as well add in the disposal as well. All of our methods for deodorizing garbage disposal are going to work for cleaning one as well. 

Add your garbage disposal to your chore list, and you will end up finding that you never have a smelly garbage disposal again! 

Natural Ways To Clean And Deodorize A Smelly Garbage Disposal

More and more people are using natural cleaning aids to help them around the kitchen. We always try to add a few cleaning methods that are natural, in addition to the standard chemical cleaning protocol. Here are a few of the best all natural ways to deodorize the smelly garbage disposal. 

How To Clean Garbage Disposal With Baking Soda And Vinegar

This is one of those methods that you may want to call the kids in to witness. If you have never tried mixing baking soda and vinegar, you may be surprised at the reaction these two will have with each other. 

When baking soda and vinegar interact, there is going to be quite a chemical reaction. There will be lots of bubbly and fizzing but also a good amount of cleaning going on. Vinegar and baking soda work to break down dirt, debris, grime, and even rust that could be developing in your garbage disposal. 

The best way to do this is to put about a half a cup of baking soda sprinkled into your garbage disposal. Next, you will add about a half of a cup of vinegar.

Let this sit and react with each other for about five minutes. During these five minutes, your disposal will hopefully sound like it is bubbling, and there are lots going on. 

Always do this with the disposal off. Once the baking soda and vinegar have had about five minutes to work with each other, you can then turn on the disposal and run water through it while you let it run for a good thirty seconds or so. At this point, you should have a much better smelling garbage disposal. 

Since this is an all-natural method, you can repeat it a few times if you feel that it is necessary. 

How To Get Rid Of Garbage Disposal Odor With Citrus 

Using citrus to clean your garbage disposal is easy and leaves the disposal with a very nice, clean, and fresh smell. One of the things we like best about this method is that the vinegar smell can be a little much for some people to deal with. Citrus, on the other hand, is usually a more favorable smell. 

When you want to use citrus to get rid of your garbage disposal smell, you will need to gather some peels of oranges, lemons, or limes. You can combine more than one citrus fruit or just use one. 

Take those peels and put them in a few cups of ice. Poor the ice and the citrus peels down into the disposal. Unlike the baking soda and vinegar method, you are going to need to turn the disposal on for this to work. Let the oranges and ice break down in the disposal for a good 30 to 45 seconds. 

This amount of time allows the ice to splinter apart and start grabbing the bacteria on the blades and sending it down the disposal. Sometimes when you run water through your disposal, it will just rinse over the bacteria.

Ice, on the other hand, starts to chip away at other issues. The citrus fruit will deodorize things, so it smells great again when you are finished. 

How To Clean Garbage Disposal Smell With Ice

As we mentioned, when we talked about the citrus method, the ice breaks apart in the disposal and starts to act like a course material to scrub the blades of the disposal. You can simply use ice on its own to complete this process; you do not need the citrus. 

When we use ice to clean a garbage disposal, we like to do it with salt as well. Fill a small ball with ice and then coat the ice in salt. Salt has some natural cleaning ability as well, and when combined with the ice, it will create some sharp edges and rough areas to help scrub the garbage disposal blades. 

This is a simple and natural way to keep your garbage disposal from smelling up the rest of your kitchen. 

Additional Ways To Clean And Deodorize A Smelly Garbage Disposal

Now that we have covered the more natural ways, it’s time to look at some of the less natural ways with store-bought cleaning solutions. If you are trying to keep an all natural kitchen, clearly these will not be the best choices for you, but they certainly do fix the situation rather quickly. 

How To Clean The Disposal With Bleach

Whether it be the garbage disposal, the bathtub, the sink drain, or pretty much anything, bleach is known for deodorizing many smells. In fact, many people have come to think of the smell of bleach as meaning something is clean. 

You can use bleach to clean your garbage disposal. Although we do like to keep things natural at times, if you have company coming over and need that smell gone ASAP, bleach may be your best bet. 

It is important to remember to dilute the bleach that you put in your disposal. There is no reason to put pure bleach down the drain. We recommend about one tablespoon of bleach diluted in a half a gallon of water. 

Pour this water and bleach solution down the drain and then let it sit for about a minute. When you have let it sit, turn on the hot water and let that run for about thirty seconds. Next, turn the disposal back on and let the disposal run for another thirty seconds. 

When all is said and done, the smell should be significantly reduced. If you find that it only partially took the smell away, you may need another round of bleach and water mixture. 


Specialty Products To Clean The Disposal 

You will find two main types of products used to clean garbage disposal. One type of product is similar to a dishwasher cleaning tablet, and it is dropped into the disposal, and then you run water and turn your disposal on. Another option is a specific brush that is used for cleaning the disposal. 

With the way, the blades are designed with a garbage disposal and the fact that there is not much visibility, we don’t really recommend sticking your hand down there. The brush that goes into the disposal is quite long and will keep your hand out of the way. 

The only issue we have with this method is that you are still very likely going to need an additional deodorizing or cleansing method. Chances are when you pull up this grime covered brush; you are still going to need to clean the disposal and the brush. 

We are not saying the brush is not worth it; however, there are simpler ways to clean your disposal. 

Another thing to pay attention to is the ingredients of the cleaners that you are purchasing. Some garbage disposal cleaners will say that when you open, there will be a bubbling and foaming action that is used to clean the disposal. 

If you remember correctly, we mentioned this about baking soda and vinegar as well. Sometimes these cleaning products are made up of the simple things we have around our house. You may be able to save yourself a few dollars by using ice and an orange peel. 

Preventing Bad Smells In The Garbage Disposal 

Once you get your garbage disposal smelling like it should, you may want to make sure that it stays this way for a while. If you follow the right procedures, it could stay like this for good! Here are a few of our favorite tips for keeping bad smells away in the garbage disposal. 

Stay Away From Grease

After cooking bacon or hamburgers, many people wonder what to do with the grease. The best thing to do is to save the grease in a cup and throw it away when it hardens. The worst thing to do is to put it down the garbage disposal. Nothing good will come out of putting grease down your garbage disposal. 

Preventing bad smells has quite a bit to do with how you treat the disposal. Use it for what it is intended for, and you will end up with much fewer issues. Aside from making your garbage disposal stink, hot grease can cause some damage to the disposal itself. 

Combine Methods

We know that each of the methods to deodorize smelly garbage disposal will work but have you thought about combining those methods. One of our favorite ideas is to make your own garbage disposal cleaning pods. 

Take an ice tray that you don’t use. Fill the cubes with a solution of water, vinegar, and some ground of citrus peels. You can then freeze these cubes and throw a few in your garbage disposal whenever you feel as though it needs a cleanse. 

If you have small Tupperware containers, they are really the perfect size; just break the ice up a little before placing it in the disposal. When we do this, we always let some water run while the ice, vinegar, and citrus are doing their job. 

To take this tip even a little further, you could first pour baking soda down the drain as this will interact with the vinegar in the cubes and increase the cleaning power. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your garbage disposal cleaning methods; there is certainly no one way to complete this. 

Fill The Sink- Flush It

Sometimes when you want to really clean the disposal, running water down and through the drain is not enough. There needs to be some water pressure built up in order to really flush the blades clean and give them some more cleaning power. 

The best way to do this is to put a drain in the disposal, fill your sink about halfway, and then add a few drops of vinegar. Once the sink is full, you can reach in and open the drain and allow the vinegar water to flow through the disposal. 

This process works quickly, and it usually does an excellent job. We do find this to be more effective when it is done at least once per week. To prevent these bad smells, once a week is probably a great idea for the garbage disposal’s full flush. 

Nightly Routine 

Last but certainly not least, let’s add the garbage disposal maintenance to one of your nightly kitchen routines. Most households have a time where the kitchen shuts down. No more meals are made, the dishes are clean, and the kitchen gets to take a rest for the night. 

Some people end their kitchen routine by loading the dishwasher and wiping the counters. Others wait to unload the dishwasher before calling it a night completely. Whatever your routine is, you must add a quick flip of the garbage disposal to it. 

Simply turn the disposal on for about twenty seconds before you shut the kitchen down for the night. This helps to make sure anything that was lying in the bottom of the disposal gets processed before it has time to get smelly that night. 

Final Thoughts 

Hopefully, these tips to deodorize a garbage disposal have helped give you some inspiration. If you feel like your disposal never smells right, you may need to combine a few of our methods and do a real deep clean.

Try to get the disposal to the point that the smell is tolerable and then from there, try to stay on top of the maintenance. A garbage disposal can be your best friend in the kitchen; it makes cleanup and trash so much easier; just be sure to give it the proper attention.