How To: Cure a Smelly Garbage Disposal

If there's an unpleasant stench wafting from your garbage disposal, it's time to give it a good cleaning. Here's how to get rid of stinky food residue in your disposal.

Photo: shutterstock.com

There’s no denying the convenience of the garbage disposal: It simplifies so many of the activities that take place in the kitchen. Frequent use of the appliance, however, can sometimes lead to foul odors. If you’ve noticed a not-so-pleasing scent emanating from yours, don’t worry—it’s nothing permanent. Getting rid of a garbage disposal smell is by no means an arduous task. In fact, you probably have everything you need for it in your pantry, and the job won’t take more than 10 minutes.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Scrub brush or dish wand
- Dish soap
- Ice
- Kosher salt
- Lemon peels

STEP 1
Start by dabbing about a tablespoon of dish soap onto your choice of either a scrub brush or dish wand. Scrub the visible portion of the garbage disposal, paying special attention to the seam where the disposal flange meets the sink basin. Small particles have the tendency to linger there, and even mold can sometimes grow.

Photo: shutterstock.com

STEP 2
When you run the kitchen faucet while operating the garbage disposal, its housing never completely fills with water. That’s normal. But if your garbage disposal has begun to smell, it can be a huge help to give the guts of the appliance a good soak. Here’s how to do it: Plug the drain in your sink, fill the basin about halfway with water, and then add a bit of dish soap (or vinegar, a natural cleaner). Next, unplug the drain and activate the garbage disposal. Doing so propels the soapy water through the housing, rinsing off its hidden nooks and crannies.

STEP 3
Even after the bath you gave the garbage disposal in Step 2, there may still be slimy residue left inside the appliance. To dislodge it, you need to go only as far as the spice rack: As it happens, kosher salt can be an effective abrasive cleaner. Pour a large cup of ice cubes into the garbage disposal, switch on the appliance, then add one-half cup of the salt. Together, the ice and salt should combine to grind away what remains of the odor-causing residue.

By now, the garbage disposal smell that had been bothering you should be gone. If you’ve got an extra lemon lying around, why not imbue the kitchen with a fresh citrus scent by simply grinding a few peels through the appliance?

Preventing Bad Smells
Although it’s easy enough to eliminate a garbage disposal smell, prevention is perhaps the best cure. Bear in mind these simple guidelines, and you’ll cut down on the accumulated food residue in the disposal that causes the foul odors in the first place. First, remember to use the disposal only for the organic materials it was designed to handle. Also, try to keep fibrous vegetables—for example, celery—and starchy foods like potatoes out of there. Meanwhile, don’t be hesitant to put eggshells and small fruit pits through the machine, as they actually go a long way toward cleaning its blades. Finally, dispel persistent particles from within the housing by always running the machine for five seconds longer than you think is strictly necessary.

With regular care and a bit of extra attention on occasion, your garbage disposal can be a boon to your everyday life without becoming a stinky inconvenience.