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How to Get Rid of Smelly Garbage Disposal Odors

Jul 05, 2024

garbage disposal system

Food waste can be conveniently disposed of using a garbage disposal, but if it isn’t cleaned properly, it might produce unpleasant odors. Foods like shells, grease, and oil can clog the blades. Rotting fruit pits, vegetable scraps, cooked meat, and tiny bones can get stuck in the drain, and the decomposing produces very unpleasant odors. Learn how to clean your garbage disposal properly to get rid of smells.

Why Does My Garbage Disposal Smell?

Garbage disposals are effective appliances for breaking down food waste, but they can cause an unpleasant smell in the kitchen due to decaying food particles that can get stuck. Some foods may stick or develop a strong odor over time. When leftover particles build up, they can cause a partial or complete clog, preventing proper draining and allowing mold or mildew to grow and create their own smells. Proper disposal cleaning will help neutralize the development of a strong odor in your kitchen.

How to Get Rid of Garbage Disposal Smell

Baking Soda and Vinegar

Using white vinegar and baking soda is one of the simplest ways to clean and freshen the garbage disposal. First, add a quarter cup of baking soda to the garbage disposal, followed by a cup of white vinegar. The combination of these two solutions works to remove mineral deposits from the inside of the drain and eliminate bacteria and germs that cause odors. Let the baking soda and white vinegar work their magic on any leftover food waste for five to ten minutes. Then rinse the garbage disposal with cold water.

Salt and Ice

Running water lubricates the disposal’s blades, and any food residue is washed down the drain. For a similar effect, you can clean and deodorize the disposal unit with salt and ice. The ice physically eliminates any filth that has become lodged, while the salt neutralizes any smells. The amount of food waste that becomes lodged in the disposal can also be decreased by using ice to sharpen the disposal’s blades. Toss in a handful of salt after adding a few ice cubes. To break up the ice cubes and distribute the salt throughout the disposal’s inside, turn on the garbage disposal. Continue this as needed to get rid of any lingering odors.


Bleach is a powerful ally in the fight to keep the fixtures in your bathroom clean, but you may be surprised to learn you can also use it to clean your garbage disposal. However, it is extremely important to handle it in the proper way. Make sure you use a gentler bleach or dilute ordinary bleach with water before using it to clean your garbage disposal. Turn on the cold water and keep it running as you pour the bleach down the drain. A small amount of bleach will go a long way toward eliminating odors and dissolving food particles lodged in garbage disposals.

Citrus Peels

Throwing an entire orange peel into the garbage disposal is not a smart idea. It may clog the drain or lower the effectiveness of the blades. However, pulverizing citrus peels can be a very efficient method for deodorizing and cleaning the disposal. Pick any citrus fruit you happen to have on hand, or if you have a particular kind in mind, choose that one. After peeling the fruit, roughly chop the citrus peel. After turning on the garbage disposal, pour cold water down the drain. Add the pulverized citrus peels to the disposal. The citrus oils have the ability to destroy germs and fungi that cause odors, leaving behind a pleasant aroma in their place.

Scouring Powder

Before buying scouring powder, do your homework and choose a powder that is safe to use. Not all scouring powder types are good for garbage disposals. Pour around half a cup of safe scouring powder into the garbage disposal. Add a small amount of cold water and let it sit for about fifteen minutes. After that, run the cold water and turn on the disposal. In addition to cleaning the blades and getting rid of the bad smell, this will also flush the scouring powder down the drain.

Bottle Brush

You can also get rid of odors from garbage disposals with a long bottle brush and liquid dishwashing soap. Unplug the power cord or turn off the breaker switch to prevent the unit from turning on. Apply liquid dishwashing soap to the bottle brush and scrub the disposal to remove food waste. Rinse the drain with cold water, then plug in the disposal or turn on the breaker switch. If the model has a reset button, press it to reset the unit. This method can help remove unpleasant odors from the disposal.

Garbage Disposal Products

If your garbage disposal still stinks, you may need help from one of the specialized garbage disposal cleaning items you can usually find at the grocery store. These solutions are intended for garbage disposal, and they all include different substances to combat odors and get your disposal back to operating at its peak performance level.

garbage disposal drain

How to Prevent Garbage Disposal Odors

To maintain a clean garbage disposal, you should avoid treating your disposal like a garbage can, as it should not be used to dispose of certain items like grease, coffee grinds, oil, fats, rice, pasta, seeds, and bones. Egg shells and fibrous vegetables can be disposed of once in a while, but ideally, they should be minimally disposed of to avoid clogging. 

A good tip is that you should run your disposal for an additional five to 10 seconds after processing all substances, as there may be lingering debris or particles. Cleaner products from local home improvement stores are your friends if you need to tackle clogs and smells.

How Often Should I Clean My Garbage Disposal?

If you frequently use your garbage disposal, you should clean it at least once a week or every two weeks. Once a month would suffice, although that may be pushing it. Choose a time frame that matches how often you use your disposal and incorporate it into your regular cleaning schedule. The main thing you want to do is stay consistent with your cleaning regimen. If you clean your disposal regularly, once a week, once every two weeks, or even once a month, you can keep foul odors at bay. Frequent cleaning will prevent the buildup of food and other particles that cause unpleasant odors. Another perk is that it will make your kitchen smell great.

Contact Anderson for Garbage Disposal Repair & Replacement Services in San Diego

Your garbage disposal is a critical part of your plumbing system, and it demands your proper care in order to perform at its best. When difficulties develop, we’re here to help get your disposal running smoothly again. If you face difficult problems that you are unsure how to solve, seek out help from our certified plumbing professionals rather than attempting to fix them yourself. Anderson Plumbing Heating & Air is your go-to company for garbage disposal repair and replacement services in San Diego.

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