Skip to main content

How to Clean Your Garbage Disposal

Fix a stinky situation in six simple steps

What is that smell? Well, if you haven’t cleaned it in a while, it’s probably your garbage disposal. And all it takes to remedy the problem is a few minutes and a few common household products.

Step 1

Unplug the garbage disposal and use a flashlight to look down the drain for any lodged pieces of food or objects. If you see something lurking, remove it with needle-nose pliers (not your hand!).

Step 2

Pour 2 cups of ice cubes down the drain and cover them with 1 cup of rock salt. Plug the disposal back in, turn it on and run cold water. Turn the disposal off when the ice is gone, about a minute. The ice-salt mixture will clean the disposal’s blades, removing the food particles and grime that caused the awful odor.

Step 3

Now, get rid of any bacteria hanging around. Pour ½ cup baking soda and 1 cup white vinegar down the disposal. When the mixture reacts, it will foam and bubble—that means it’s working! Let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes, then run water down the drain.

Step 4

Plug the sink and run water until the basin is about three-quarters full. Add a few squirts of dishwashing detergent and remove the plug, letting the water drain while the disposal is on. This will flush out any lingering gunk clinging to the blades.

Step 5

Cut off the peels from your favorite citrus fruit—lemon, orange, grapefruit or lime—and throw them down the running disposal. When you turn it off, the only thing wafting from your sink will be a fresh citrusy scent.

Step 6

Repeat these steps every two weeks for a clean-as-a-whistle garbage disposal.