What to Do If Your Garbage Disposal Smells Bad

A garbage disposal offers a convenient way to dispose of food scraps without clogging your drain or filling your kitchen trash. But anyone who’s battled disposal odor knows offensive smells can quickly take over without regular maintenance. We’ll review how cleaning with the right tools and techniques can banish odor when your garbage disposal smells bad.

Garbage Disposal Smells Bad? Follow These Steps to Dispel the Smell

Kitchen conveniences that handle food can require specific cleaning methods to fight odor effectively. We’ll detail what cleaning techniques work best when your garbage disposal smells bad as well as how to prevent odor from returning. But why does my garbage disposal stink in the first place? Here’s how odor originates.

Why Does My Garbage Disposal Smell So Bad?

One of the most common garbage disposal myths is that it uses blades to break down food. But food particles are actually broken down by rotating impellers and flushed down the drain with water. While this system is effective, food particles do get left behind. Any lingering debris can rapidly start to decay inside the disposal’s upper chamber, creating an offensive odor.

If these food particles accumulate, clogs can also cause bad smells and prevent proper draining. The following steps detail how to clean a garbage disposal to remove smelly clogs and leftover debris.

#1. Clear Out Garbage Disposal Clogs 

If your garbage disposal smells bad a clog is often the reason. Here’s how to check for odor-causing clogs and remove them safely:

  • Unplug the disposal.
  • Shine a flashlight into the disposal chamber to help locate obstructions.
  • Use tongs or pliers to remove any visible blockages.
  • Plug the disposal in again.
  • Run the disposal with cold running water for 1 minute.

#2. Use Soapy Water to Soak Garbage Disposal

A disposal’s design and location can make it difficult to clean, enabling food particles to stick around and decay. When your garbage disposal smells really bad here’s how an effective soaking can help eliminate odor:

  • Plug the disposal’s drain.
  • Fill the sink with at least 4 inches of water.
  • Add 2 tsp of dish soap, swishing the water to create suds.
  • Unplug the drain. 
  • Run the disposal to process the soapy water.
  • Turn the disposal off and add dish soap to a scrub brush or sponge.
  • Scrub all visible components, including the sink rim, baffle, and inside the drain.

#3. Clean Garbage Disposal with Salt and Ice

Cleaning with salt and ice can provide helpful friction to dislodge decaying food particles and banish bad smells. These steps detail how to use ice cubes and a coarse salt effectively:

  • Place 10 ice cubes in the sink around the disposal.
  • Sprinkle the ice cubes with ½ cup of coarse salt.
  • Turn on the disposal and push the ice cubes and salt towards its opening.
  • Allow the disposal to process the ice and salt until it’s completely gone.
  • Flush remaining debris by running cold tap water as hard as possible, directly into the disposal, for 1-2 minutes.

#4. How to Deodorize a Garbage Disposal

Even when food particles are gone bad smells can continue to linger. When your garbage disposal smells bad even after a thorough cleaning, eliminate odor with natural remedies like baking soda and vinegar:

  • Pour 2 cups of baking soda directly into the disposal chamber.
  • Slowly add ½ cup of white vinegar.
  • Allow the mixture to sit for 1 hour.
  • Run the water and disposal for 1 minute to dispel the mixture.

After bad odors are banished you can freshen the disposal and give it a pleasant scent by processing lemon peels. Cut the lemon peel into 1-inch pieces and slowly feed them down the disposal.

garbage disposal smells bad

Tips to Prevent Garbage Disposal Odors

Regular cleanings with the above methods can quickly eliminate disposal odor. But how to prevent it from returning? Follow these tips to keep bad smells at bay:

  • Avoid putting fibrous or starchy food down the disposal. Banana peels, artichokes and celery can jam the motor and clog the drain while breads and pastas expand with moisture, leading to blockages.
  • Cut large particles into smaller pieces and only add food in small amounts to avoid clogs.
  • When using the disposal always run a strong stream of cold water to properly flush food particles and prevent blockages.

If your garbage disposal smells really bad even after these cleaning tips then you may need a professional assessment from a garbage disposal repair service.

Conner’s Appliance can help with any disposal concern. Call us for fast and expert service!

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Anna Conner