7 Easy Ways To Get Rid Of Smell In Your Garbage Disposal

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How To Get Rid Of Smell in Garbage Disposal

There are many different ways to clean your garbage disposal. I have tried most considering I have years of experience with garbage disposal odor. And since I hate using things like bleach as a cleaning solution, here is how to get rid of smell in garbage disposal using some natural solutions.

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What Causes Bad Smells In Your Garbage Disposal?

Food Waste

The garbage disposal is not a perfect form of food disposal. Some of what you put down the drain to be pulverized into small pieces, actually gets stuck in the disposal system itself.

Starchy foods like potato peels and pasta can form a starchy paste that gets suck to the sides and blades of the disposal. Fibrous vegetables have fibers that can wrap around the blades themselves.

If you pour animal fat (grease) down the drain, it can solidify in your drain and leave an awful smell as it begins to break down. (by the way, this is a big no-no! Please stop pouring grease down the drain if you do)

As the leftover debris and grease rots in the disposal and drain pipes, it can all cause a nasty smell.

Add in a constant supply of warm water, and your kitchen sink becomes the perfect breeding ground for bacterial growth, mold, and mildew. All of which can also cause a smelly garbage disposal.

how to get rid of smell in garbage disposal white vinegar scrub brush green sponge

Best Way How To Get Rid Of Garbage Disposal Smells

I use vinegar for most cleaning in my house. From kitchen appliances to laundry, vinegar is always a good idea for cleaning.

Here is the vinegar method I use for cleaning the garbage disposal.

1. Baking Soda and Vinegar Method

  1. Turn hot water on high in the sink.
  2. As the water runs, full a large bowl with ice cubes.
  3. Turn off the hot water.
  4. Sprinkle about 1 cup of baking soda down the drain.
  5. Fill the bowl of ice cubes with distilled white vinegar.
  6. Turn on the cold water to a trickle the size of a pencil.
  7. Turn on the disposal.
  8. Dump the ice and vinegar mixture down the drain.
  9. You may need to help the ice get down into the disposal.
  10. Once the ice is gone, turn the cold water on high for about 5 seconds more before turning off the disposal.
how to get rid of smell in garbage disposal under sink disposal

Why I Like The Above Method Best For Tackling Foul Odors

First thing you need to know is there is no right or wrong way to clean your disposal. There are plenty of methods that can work depending on what you have on hand at home. But I like the above method the best for this reason…everything dissolves after use.

The ice pieces help scrape against the blades and sides of the unit to dislodge food particles, then melt away.

The baking soda and vinegar create an instant reaction that sanitizes the garbage disposal and garbage disposal drain, and then is rinsed down the drain. Leaving behind no residue that can block up your sink or disposal.

how to get rid of smell in garbage disposal clean sink

Other Easy Ways To Clean Unpleasant Odors From Garbage Disposal

The number 1 way I like to clean my garbage disposal is what I listed above (vinegar, ice, and baking soda). But there are many ways to clean just about everything, so here are 6 other ways you may find you like better.

how to get rid of smell in garbage disposal cleaning under side of sink rubber flap with toothbrush

2. Soapy Water and Scrubber

Food particles can become lodged under that rubber flap on your sink drain (called a rubber splash guard). Dish soap water (grease-cutting dish soap like Dawn) can help you clean the underside of the rubber splash guard. I recommend using rubber gloves for this since it can be gross under there. Grab a toothbrush or handheld scrub brush to scrub the underside of the flaps with the soapy water and then rinse.

how to get rid of smell in garbage disposal with glisten garbage disposer cleaner in blue bag

3. Glisten

Glisten is a product you can buy on Amazon or in the grocery store that is easy to use and cleans the disposal very well. Once a month, just follow the directions and drop the packet into your disposal. A combination of bleach alternative and abrasive particles help scrub and disinfect your disposal and drain using hot tap water. In the end, your sink gets a deep cleaning.

Affresh is another option I like that you can buy on Amazon or in the grocery store.

how to get rid of smell in garbage disposal citrus peels

4. Citrus peels

A peel from citrus fruit, like lemon peel, can help cover up unpleasant smells in your drain. There are some claims that the citrus oils actually kill the bacteria, but I have never found that to be true. So instead of using citrus peel on its own as a drain cleaner, I use it after the drain is clean to add a pleasant scent. You can also use orange and lemon slices or any extra lemon and citrus fruits you have laying around.

5. Ice Cubes And Baking Soda

Use ice and baking soda to scrape the grinder blades. Add a large cup of ice cubes and baking soda to your drain and turn it on. Sometimes you have to use a few cups of ice cubes to get enough scrub.

how to get rid of smell in garbage disposal salt

6. Ice Cubes And Salt

Put a cup of ice down your drain with half cup of salt (kosher salt or rock salt will work). The abrasiveness of the salt and ice with help get rid of food scraps in the disposal and therefore get rid of the smell in your disposal.

7. Bleach

So what happens if you try all the above methods and you are still experiencing weird smells? The good news is you can always resort to a little bit of bleach.

Before you use bleach, make sure to let hot water run down your drain for about 5 minutes to make sure you have rinsed away any other chemicals like vinegar. Mixing Chlorine bleach with anything else can cause toxic fumes.

Related Post: No Sweat Practical Tips For Using Bleach In Your Home Safely

Make sure you dilute the bleach well (like 2 Tbsp in 1 gallon of cool water). Pour it down the drain and then follow up with cool running water for about 5 minutes to flush all of the bleach down.

***If you have a septic tank, you should avoid bleach all together since it can cause your septic tank to back up.

what to put in the garbage disposal and what not to put in the garbage disposal

How to Get Rid Of Smell In Garbage Disposal And Keep it That Way

Once you know how to get rid of the smell in your garbage disposal, the next step is keeping the smell away. I recommend following these steps to help you keep odors at bay.

  1. Run your disposal every time you put anything down the sink so the food does not have a chance to sit there and get old and smelly.
  2. Clean the garbage disposal each week with one of the methods above. A cleaning planner can help you remember what you want to clean, and when.
  3. Do not put certain things into your garbage disposal. See the list below.

Things you should not put down the garbage disposal

  • Large Bones- they could actually break the grinder blades.
  • Starchy items like potatoes and cooked pasta- the starch in the items can create a paste that is sticky and hard to remove.
  • Fibrous vegetables like celery, green beans, asparagus, kale – the fibers can wrap around the base of the blades making them very difficult to clean out.
  • Fruit pits
  • Nut shells
  • Egg Shells
  • Potato Peels
  • Grease and fat
  • Onion Skins
  • Uncooked rice and pasta
  • Banana peels

Quick Fix To Cover Up Bad Odor in Your Garbage Disposal

There have been plenty of times when we are having company and I don’t have time to do a full garbage disposal cleaning.

In this case, I need a quick fix. If you want to just add smell to your disposal for a quick fix, try using citrus peels from citrus fruit like lemon peels or orange peels. 

The oils from the peels will linger in the stinky garbage disposal to help cover the smell. 

Then later when you really want to get rid of the smell, you can clean it with one of the methods at the beginning of this post.

how to get rid of smell in garbage disposal plumber under a sink

When All Else Fails Call Professional Help

You should call a plumber if none of the above tips are helping. In the end, a dirty garbage disposal is not the only thing that can cause a foul smell. A clogged drain can trap food just as easily, causing the same kinds of funky smell. The easiest way to deal with deep clogs is by calling a professional plumber who can bring in his special equipment and deal with the problem fast.


What does it mean when your garbage disposal stinks?

You most likely your disposal is harboring bacteria, mold, mildew and old rotting food particles that are causing the smell coming from your kitchen sink. Try a few of the tips above to see if you can fix the problem using natural ingredients.

Can I pour bleach down my garbage disposal?

It is not recommended to pour bleach down your garbage disposal. Not only can bleach be corrosive and eat through your pipes, but it is not good for the water supply. Use one of the methods mentioned above to try to clean your disposal and drain using natural ingredients. If you insist on using the bleach, be sure to dilute 2 Tbsp bleach per 1 gallon of cold water before pouring it down the sink.

Can you pour boiling water down garbage disposal?

Yes. Boiling water can actually help kill bacteria and also help loosen any old grease that is clinging to the inside of your garbage disposal unit or walls of your pipes.

How do you disinfect a garbage disposal?

I like to use vinegar to disinfect my garbage disposal. But some other options are Lysol Disinfectant Spray or Diluted Bleach solution.

What is the fastest method to cover up a bad smell in the garbage disposal?

The fastest method to just cover up some smells coming from the garbage disposal is to put a few lemons or oranges down the drain. But I still recommend thoroughly cleaning it with vinegar, ice and baking soda method in the near future.

These Great Garbage Disposal Tips Will Help You Get Rid Of The Smell In Your Garbage Disposal For Good!

Happy Cleaning!

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