How to Clean Garbage Disposal? A 4-Step Guide

How to clean your garbage disposal?

If you notice your residence getting smelled up with bad odors, rising from the kitchen down to every corner of your house, you probably should buckle up for a cleaning job because it is your garbage disposal that is puffing.

Garbage disposal cleanings ought to be performed time and again to ensure your kitchen doesn’t stink up or the disposal itself doesn’t become a breeding ground for micro-organisms such as bacteria. However, you don’t have to fuss over this cleaning and can do it as a DIY project with little or no extra money if you have everything at your home.

This article will help you through the cleaning process. So, take a notepad and pen down all the details for an uninterrupted cleaning work.

What is a Garbage Disposal?

Garbage disposal unit installed underside the sink

A garbage disposal is a domestic electrical machine that is installed underside the sink of your kitchen between the drain pipe and the trap. It serves to grind the food wastes and other kitchen disposals and is a time and life-saver.

With a functionally-efficient garbage disposal, you can get done away with food scraps, leftover items, and other forms of litter without having to dump them in the landfill sites. This waste disposal process is also environment-friendly and helps reduce the carbon content.

What to Use to Clean Garbage Disposal?

The materials and tools that you will need in order to deep clean your garbage disposal are mostly already found in everyone’s home. These include the following;

  • Kitchen sponge or scrubber
  • Sink stopper
  • Safety gloves
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Dish-washing liquid or soap
  • Rock salt
  • Water

Garbage Disposal Cleaning Using Vinegar and Baking Soda

If you have vinegar and baking soda at your place, this method is a go-to option for getting a cleaner garbage disposal. Follow the detailed steps below for the same.

  1. Power off the Garbage Disposal Machine

Before you begin cleaning, you must ensure that the machine is not running and even doesn’t accidentally start while your cleaning is underway. Therefore, turn off the power button and preferable wear safety gloves. You can also disconnect the electrical connection to the disposal from the breaker box.

Before putting your hands into the machine, try running the machine to double-check if the right connection is powered off.

  1. Clean the Gasket or Baffle

Gasket or baffle

A baffle is like a strainer with holes or grooves present on its surface. It traps smaller particles from clogging the machine. To clean it, pull it up and detach it from the drain. Pour some dish-washing liquid on the sponge and use some water to form the lather. Gently rub in on the baffle to remove any grease, or slime or scrub hard if need be.

Dishwashing liquid on a sponge

If you don’t have a spare sponge at home, you can also use an old tooth brush for this activity. Make sure you also clean the underside vigorously because it is often layered with slime and debris.

  1. Time to Add Vinegar and Baking Soda

Vinegar and baking soda

We all know how good are vinegar and baking soda for cleaning purposes. Even when it comes to cleaning your garbage disposal, this combo will work magic without being harsh or abrasive for the inside surface.

Take half a cup of baking soda and pour it into the disposal. Following this, gradually add a cup of vinegar and there you go; you will hear some fizzy sounds (resembling some bubble popping) coming from the drain opening. Well, this is how the soda works after all!

Place the stopper over the opening of drain and go get yourself some fresh air outside because you will have to wait around ten minutes for the soda and vinegar to do their homework.

  1. Flush the Garbage Disposal with Hot Water

Remove the stopper and allow hot water to flush the disposal by turning on the power connection and running the machine. Make sure you don’t get thrifty while you allow hot water to flow into the disposal.

sink stopper

The above steps can be repeated if sufficient cleaning is not achieved in the first attempt.

With this, you will have a cleaner disposal ready to dump your garbage till the next cleaning session hits up.

Natural Ways to Clean Garbage Disposal

If you are up to a cleaning job and do not have vinegar or baking soda at your home, we still have got you covered with some natural alternative cleaning options.

Alternative 1: Use Rock Salt and Crushed Ice

Rock salt

Rock salt can be used as an alternative to vinegar. It has excellent cleaning and scrapping ability. To use it to clean your garbage disposal, you simply need to add a cup of it along with crushed ice into the disposal machine once the gasket is cleaned.

Crushed ice for cleaning garbage disposal

Run the disposal machine and the ice in conjunction with salt will do its magic. It will scrap off all the accumulated dirt and debris on the inside of the machine and there you go; you have done a good cleaning job.

Alternative 2: Use Lemon Chunks

Lemon chunks can be used as a natural cleaning material for your garbage disposal

Lemon chunks can be used as an alternative to vinegar or they can also serve to freshen up your disposal once all the cleaning is done. All you need to do is to cut lemon into small pieces and put them into the disposal.

Run cold water through the disposal by turning on the power connection. You will smell a fresh citric odor coming out of your disposal and you will get a sense of satisfaction down your spine.

Make sure the lemon chunks have all the seeds removed, otherwise, they may clog the machine. Other way around, you can also use only lemon peels so that the seeds don’t accidentally end up jamming the garbage disposal machine.

Tips to Maintain a Garbage Disposal Unit

The service life of a garbage disposal unit can be improved if you use and maintain it with caution and care. Here are a few tips for you to grab and practice if you don’t want to invest into buying newer units every now and then.

  • Do not feed the garbage disposal to its brim. It is also important to know what items are categorized into garbage wastes and can be thrown into the disposal.
  • If you come across any stingy or greasy food item that you intend to get away with, use an alternative disposal option because throwing it into the garbage disposal will create a stinky odor that will make it even messier.
  • Do not pour in food that has the potential to clog the machine or damage the drain pipe such as bones, seafood shells, husk, etc.

How Often is Cleaning Required?

The pros recommend cleaning your garbage disposal on a monthly basis. However the frequency of cleaning works also depends on the type of your garbage disposal machine and how your handle it..

If you take care of what you put into the disposal, you will need less frequent cleaning and maintenance. However, a casual dumping approach will leave you at the fag end of frequent cleanings.

Get Rid of the Smelly Odor!

Oftentimes, even when you complete the cleaning work, you will still smell a foul odor coming from the disposal. This usually happens when greasy food leftovers are dumped in the disposal because they create a slimy layer on the disposal’s internal periphery. During cleaning, this layer gets stripped off, however, the odor doesn’t simply evade.

Here are a few tips you can follow to get rid of the stinky smells that can be disgusting for your breath also as you inhale in your kitchen.

  • Lemon or any other citric fruit can be used as a natural deodorizing material as discussed before.
  • Another option is to go for diluted bleach and allow warm water through the disposal. Remember not to use bleach in powdered form as it is a strong chemical and can abrade the interior of your machine. Keep the dilution ratio to 2 parts warm water to 1 part bleaching powder.
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