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Proper Ways to Clean & Maintain Your Garbage Disposal

August 30, 2019

Keeping your garbage disposal clean will help prevent the build-up of foul and unwanted odors. Of course, it’s understandable as to why garbage disposals can generate unpleasant smells in the first place.

Consider the environment of the average in-sink garbage disposal: it’s cool, dark, contains plenty of moisture, and there’s a constant intake of food getting shredded, leaving particles scattered about. It’s only a matter of time before anyone’s garbage disposal begins to smell.

The good news is that there are steps you can take to flush out the disposal’s system and free it of bacteria, food particles, and of course, that foul and unpleasant smell. Consider the following steps when cleaning out your garbage disposal and remember to prioritize safety above all else!

There are sharp blades hidden in a small, dark environment, so we do not recommend reaching your hand into the opening at any point. Also, make sure that the garbage disposal remains powered off for the duration of the cleaning process to avoid any dangerous and unwanted accidents.

Prevention

Just like anything else in life, prevention is always something to keep in mind to diligently avoid more cleanup than necessary. While it’s easy to eliminate garbage disposal odors, prevention is always the best route of action.

There are certain foods to avoid putting down the garbage disposal including fibrous vegetables like celery or starchy foods like potatoes. These foods will cling to the blades and become very difficult to remove. They will also cause other foods to stick to them, causing a build-up in your disposal, full of bacteria and unwanted smells.

Another great tip is to run the disposal about five seconds longer than you feel is necessary. This helps to clean the blades from any leftover build-up and will prevent more food from sticking to them the next time you use it.

A Good, Old-Fashioned Cleaning

Add a generous amount of dishwashing soap or liquid dish detergent to a long-handled scrub brush and manually scrub the visible parts of your garbage disposal. Make sure you pay attention to where the garbage disposal meets your sink basin as particles of food and even mold can grow in those crevices.

Scrub these areas and rinse with hot water to catch any residuals particles, bacteria, or mold that may have been left behind.

Soak the Disposal

While many of us know it’s important to run water while you run the disposal, keep in mind that this is an important step that you shouldn’t skip. This helps your disposal rid itself of the bits of food that may be trapped inside the housing.

When you notice your disposal begins to smell bad, this is the time you’ll want to give the housing a thorough soak. Plug the sink drain, fill your sink basin about halfway with hot water, and then add a bit of dish soap, vinegar, or both. Next, you’ll want to remove the plug from the drain while simultaneously turning on the garbage disposal. This process helps to soak the housing component with soapy, hot water and sanitize the nooks can crannies you can’t see or reach.

Remove Slime & Residue

Unfortunately, as unpleasant of a topic as it is, slimy residue can easily build up in your garbage disposal, given the cool, wet, and dark conditions. One great way to remove this is by using kosher salt. This is an effective and abrasive cleaner that has the power to dislodge and dissolve this build-up from your disposal.

First, you’ll need to pour a large cup of ice cubes into the disposal. Now, turn it on while you simultaneously add a half cup of kosher salt. This salt and ice combination will harshly grind away the remains of the slime and residue that are causing an unwanted odor.

This trick is simple, cost-effective, and used with only a few items that you’re likely to have on hand at any time!

Use Citrus

Citrusy fruits are extremely acidic and can help your drain stay clean by acting as a powerful deodorizer. If you have extra citrusy fruits laying around, or buy one from the store, try using a lemon, lime, grapefruit, or an orange.

This trick is simple. You will just need to drop the fruit into your disposal, skin and all, and grind away. If you want, you can also cut up the fruit into pieces to make it easier for your disposal to grind up, but that step isn’t necessary. When your disposal is finished, you can rinse with hot water to flush out the remaining fruit that may have gotten caught.

This is an ideal way for removing unwanted odors because the citrus oils will help remove odors AND they will leave a pleasant smell in their place. It’s a win-win situation.

Flush Your Garbage Disposal Routinely

Much like prevention, it’s important to maintain your garbage disposal BEFORE you begin to notice foul smells. Garbage disposals require preventative care in order to keep them working well and smelling great.

You can routinely flush your garbage disposal by running a stream of very hot water through the housing system for at least one minute. If you already smell an odor, feel free to run it longer. A minute should be long enough to push the particles through and out of the system. By simply flushing your garbage disposal like this frequently, you are maintaining the system and doing it without any extra purchases or ingredients.

Consider doing this daily or even after each use of the machine.

A Deodorizing Clean

If you have tried all of the above steps and are still noticing that the foul smell won’t go away, we recommend that you try a tougher cleaning solution to knock out the odor. For this trick, you’ll need 2 ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry: baking soda and vinegar.

First, you’ll need to lift the rubber flaps of your disposal and pour a half cup of baking soda into the drain. Next, you’ll need to fill the entire drain with baking soda until you cannot add any more. Next, pour a half cup of vinegar down the drain to help kill any bacteria that may be living in the drain. Allow this to sit for at least one hour before turning on your disposal and running cold water for one minute to rinse.

Try not to use this method frequently as the vinegar can begin to damage the rubber elements of your drain if used too many times.

We hope these tips and tricks are useful and effective for you, the next time you notice an unpleasant or unwanted odor coming from your garbage disposal. Remember, safety is paramount and again, we do not recommend ever sticking your hands or fingers into the housing system.

If you have any questions or need any assistance with your garbage disposal, please call us today and one of our skilled, experienced, and professional team members will be there to help!

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