5 Easy Ways To Clean A Garbage Disposal That Smells

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Discover 5 of the best and easiest ways to clean garbage disposal that smells including the dish soap and hot water technique, the baking soda method, the ice and salt tactic, the deep brushing assault, and the citrus fruits refresher…


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One of the worst kitchen issues that simply can instantly lower your mood is dealing with the kitchen sink’s garbage disposal smell; this awful, strong, foul odor can make you gag and if someone else comes into your kitchen, it will make you feel embarrassed.

Since the kitchen sink is something we use multiple times a day for different activates, from washing dishes to washing food, it’s natural and expected that at some point it will start giving off bad smells.

Nonetheless, this is not an excuse to ignore this issue; quite the contrary, you should spare a few minutes and face this problem head-on, as although it may seem (and smell) heavy, it is quite easy to be solved, and probably you will be able to get rid of this rotten smell by using simple items that are just laying around in your kitchen.

Before you dial your plumber and waste their time and yours, you should try these 5 methods that will most likely help you clean your stinky garbage disposal. Here are 5 of the best ways to clean garbage disposal that smells:

Dish Soap and Hot Water – Go-To Basics, Try The Simple Yet Effective Cleaning Method


Why you should try it Although it may seem quite simple, this method should be the first thing you try before you reach for heavier cleaning supplies or call the plumber.

  • Most often, the odor comes from food leftovers that got stuck inside and started rotting.
  • By combining hot water and soap you will help to remove and wash away the gunk and all the leftovers like you would remove them from your dishes.
  • When you are doing this, the water must be hot; since both dish soap and water are liquid, you will have no issue inserting them in the disposal as they will go down quickly.


How Do You Clean Garbage Disposal That Smells With Dish Soap?

The method is quite simple. You can clean your garbage disposal with the regular dish soap that you use for washing dishes. Let’s explain this method, step by step:


Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Liquid Dish Soap, Lemon Verbena, 16 ounce bottle (Pack of 3)

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  1. Put on gloves. Boil some water or have hot water in a bigger bowl.
  2. Put a stopper into the drain. It can be steel or rubber, whichever you have at home.
  3. Add in a couple of squirts of liquid dishwashing soap in the disposal.
  4. In the bowl with the hot water add few squirts of liquid dish soap and mix them.
  5. Finally, you need to lift the drain stopper and run the garbage disposal.

Baking Soda and VinegarLet’s Try Something Heavier, Yet Still Available From Your Kitchen Cabinet.


Why you should try it – This method is one of the most effective methods since the baking soda, being acid, reacts with the vinegar which is great at killing bacteria and also acts as a natural deodorizer.

  • This reaction helps not only in cleaning the smell and removing the odor, but it will also help with any potential clogging.
  • That’s why it is considered one of the oldest plumbing tricks in the book.
  • Nevertheless, please bear in mind that this method, although quite effective should be used only when it is necessary and not very often since over time, the baking soda and vinegar could do long-term damage to the rubber parts of your disposal.
  • So use it only on rare occasions.


How Do You Clean Garbage Disposal That Smells With Baking Soda?


Arm & Hammer Pure Baking Soda, 8 oz

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This method requires you to use half a cup of baking soda with half a cup of vinegar. It’s quite easy and simple, yet you should be precise; here is the step-by-step guide:

  1. Using gloves, pour the baking soda inside the drain. Try not to miss it.
  2. Then pour the vinegar and let it mix. You will hear it puzzle as the reaction occurs.
  3. Let this mixture sit in the drain for 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Then, turn on your garbage disposal and run hot water from the tab for roughly 20-30 seconds.

This method will help you get rid of not only the unpleasant, heavy smell but also will clean any possible clogs. That being said, we repeat, this should not be your go-to method and should be used only when necessary to preserve your disposal and pipes.

Ice and Salt – Let’s Get Salty and Ice-Away The Heavy Odor!

Why you should try it – You know how we use different types of peelings with granules to exfoliate our body? Well, with this method, the ice and salt will practically do the same and ‘exfoliate’ your garbage disposal. This is how it works:

  • When you put the ice cubes in, as they are being ground up, they begin acting like millions of miniature missiles firing towards and hitting any leftovers as well as the stubborn debris that is inside your sink.
  • As the tiny ice particles will keep on knocking off the leftover particles, the salt will contribute by scrubbing the sides of your disposal’s upper tank.
  • This way you will remove every leftover which may be causing the unpleasant smell.


How Do You Clean Garbage Disposal That Smells With Ice and Salt?


Salt & Pepper Bamboo Box Set with Salt Spoons

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You will need to use a few ice cubes together with kosher salt; here is the pretty simple, 2-step guide for this method:

  1. Grab the ice cubes and toss them down the drain alongside a handful of kosher salt.
  2. Turn on the garbage disposal and let it run for 10-20 seconds until you stop hearing the noise of bouncing ice cubes.

This method is quite safe and useful. You can do this method to clean deeply and thoroughly your garbage disposal and get rid of the unpleasant odor; and afterward, if you want to make sure that your disposal is extra clean and to add a nice smell to it.

You can do method one with nice, lemon or apple scented dish wash soap and hot water. This will make sure your disposal is not only clean but smells nice too.

Thorough, Deep Brush Cleaning – Take Out The “Big Guns” For The Extra Stubborn Garbage Disposal That Refuses To Be Cleaned Otherwise.


Why you should try it – If you have tried our previous methods, and the odor is still heavy then most likely you will need to thoroughly clean it to get rid of the smell.

  • You can clean it by using a dish brush or wire brush that will go inside the garbage disposal unit and clean it thoroughly.
  • This method is a bit more complex, as it will require you to use more effort than the previously mentioned methods; however, if your disposal is quite clogged and heavily stinks, you may need to do it.
  • This will enable you to thoroughly clean the disposal and with that, the smell will disappear too.


How Do You Clean Garbage Disposal That Smells With Deep Brushing?

Performance Tool W1149 Brass, and Stainless Steel 3-Piece Brush Set

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This is a bit complex method, in comparison with previous ones as it has few steps:

  1. The first thing you need to do is run hot water from your faucet or pour it from the extra-large bowl for roughly 1 minute.
  2. Do not forget to clean the top of the garbage disposal lid with some soap, water, and brush. You should do this first before moving to the pipes. Clean the upper part first.
  3. Then, you need to stop the water, make sure you unplug and disconnect the unit before you move any further.
  4. Grab your wrench and using it, disconnect the pipe leading from the garbage disposal underneath your sink. It is right after the trap.
  5. Remove the pipes and using your brush (on which you have added soap previously) to clean it inside. You can do the same with the upper part. Once you are sure they are clean, return them to their place and double-check if they are properly attached.
  6. Plug-in your disposal again, then add salt and dish soap and run the water for another 10-15 seconds. This way you will make sure your disposal is thoroughly clean and the odor will disappear for sure.

Neutralizing and Deodorizing With Citrus Fruits – This Method is For Less Smelly Disposals When You Just Need It To Smell Better


Why you should do it – if your garbage disposal does not smell a lot, just a bit, or if you just want to add a pleasant smell to it, you can try our final method – deodorizing with lemon or lime.

  • Unlike previous methods who will also clean your garbage disposal, this method won’t do a lot regarding the cleaning, however, it will neutralize and improve the smell of your disposal.
  • If you want to clean your garbage disposal too, then you should do some of our previously explained methods first, then do this one to deodorize the garbage disposal.


How Do You Clean Garbage Disposal That Smells With Citrus Fruits?

Gourmet Fruit Basket, Mixed Citrus Box with Oranges and Grapefruit (20lbs)

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You will need a lemon or two for this method. Here are the simple steps:

  1. Grab lemon or two and cut them into small sections. You can do it with lime or orange, any of these citrus scent fruits will do just fine. Squirt a few drops from another lemon into a cup.
  2. Pour the lemon juice into the disposal opening and let it sit for 5—10 minutes to loosen anything.
  3. Then turn on the water, letting it flow right into the disposal opening while turning the disposal on and dropping the previously chopped lemon chunks inside, one by one.
  4. Let the water run 10-20 seconds after you have dropped the lemons.
  5. Enjoy the nice smell.


Depending on your needs and how strong the smell is, you can choose any of our recommended methods or combine two of them. If nothing works, then it’s time that you call the plumber as the issue is probably deeper, and most likely, something else is hiding behind the unpleasant odor.