How to Clean Garbage Disposal at Home? 

How to clean your garbage disposal?
  • Author: Ivy Smith
  • Posted On: May 6, 2023
  • Updated On: October 11, 2023

Bad odor coming from your kitchen sink is your worst nightmare. If you notice this, then you should buckle up for a cleaning job because it is the garbage disposal puffing out.  But how to clean a garbage disposal?

It requires cleaning from time to time to ensure that your kitchen doesn’t stink up or turn into a breeding ground for microorganisms. However, you don’t have to fuss over this type of cleaning. It’s a simple DIY project that requires a few simple ingredients available in your kitchen.

Let’s walk through the cleaning process and find out how you can keep your garbage disposal clean  

What is a Garbage Disposal

The first garbage disposal device was invented by John W. Hammes in the 1930’s and was named electric pig.

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 grinds the food waste and other kitchen disposals, thus limiting the production of food waste which is a common problem. You can even plumb a sink-in disposal unit as a DIY project.

With a garbage disposal, you can get rid of food scraps, and leftover items without having to dump them in the landfill sites. Also, if you are looking for an eco-friendly kitchen renovation idea, consider getting a garbage disposal unit. This is because a garbage disposal unit is environment-friendly and helps to reduce carbon emissions.

What is a Garbage Disposal

Materials Needed 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:

  • 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

When renovating a kitchen, you will need to clean the garbage disposal. 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 best results.

Power off the Garbage Disposal Machine

Before you begin cleaning, 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 preferably 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.

Clean the Gasket or Baffle

Clean the 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. Plumbing issues can cause mold inside too. To clean it, pull it up and detach it from the drain. Pour some dishwashing liquid into 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 needed.

Gently rub in on the baffle to remove any grease

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

Time to Add Vinegar and Baking Soda

Time to Add Vinegar and Baking Soda

We all know how good vinegar and baking soda are for cleaning purposes and one of the best tips to take care of the plumbing system. 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 the 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 work. Needless to say, the use of baking soda is safe for drain cleaner too. 

Flush the Garbage Disposal with Hot Water

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.

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.

Alternative 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

Use Rock Salt and Crushed Ice

Rock salt can be used as an alternative to vinegar. It has excellent cleaning and scraping ability. To use salt for cleaning garbage disposal, you need to add rock salt and crushed ice to the disposal machine. This is a good alternative to remove household odor besides the use of vinegar and baking soda. 

Run the disposal machine and the ice in conjunction with salt. It will scrape off all the accumulated dirt and debris on the inside of the machine leaving behind a clean disposal unit.

Alternative 2: Use Lemon Chunks

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 cut the 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. 

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.

Alternative 3: Use Ice Cubes

One of the cheapest and easiest cleaning hacks for garbage disposal is ice cubes. Combine it with dish soap and you will have a power cleaning agent in your hands. 

Before cleaning the interior of the garbage disposal, you need to clean the black circular fan-like piece, also known as the rubber splash guard, inside the sink flange. It can be covered in greenish-brown plaque. You can use the cleaning sprays or baking soda with a toothbrush to scrub the grime away.  

Then you can fill the garbage disposal with at least 2 to 3 cups of ice cubes. Use tongs to fill the chamber. Now add the dish soap over ice and turn on the garbage disposal until the ice is slushy. After that, you can rinse the disposal to remove any further debris. 

How Often is Garbage Disposal 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 garbage disposal machine and how you 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.

If using the garbage disposal every day, it’s recommended to clean it at least once a week. A regular cleanup will eliminate the chances of clogging, bad odor, and build-up. 

Revamp Kitchen with the Best Gadget

An unclean garbage disposal unit is no less than a headache. The problem is quite common. So, it’s important to clean the disposal unit periodically to let it perform well. Also, make sure to take proper care of the unit while disposing of the food waste. 

But when it comes to the cleaning options, be mindful that all you need is a few ingredients in your pantry. From rock salt and crushed ice to lemon and baking soda, all these things can clean the disposal unit effectively. However, it is recommended to get your disposal unit inspected from time to time by a professional to avoid any problems with its function.


  • Can I Use Bleach to Clean Garbage Disposal?
    Garbage disposal can be cleaned using a mixture of bleach and water. But remember that bleach can solidify the grease in drains so use it in small amounts only.
  • What Can I Use to Clean Garbage Disposals?
    Vinegar and baking soda can be used to clean garbage disposals. You can also use hot water, rock slats, ice cubes, and some of the other basic kitchen ingredients to clean the garbage disposal. Or you can use a lemon or citrus peel with cold water for cleaning purposes.
  • Can I use Borax to Clean Garbage Disposal?
    Yes, Borax is a natural sink cleaner. It also works as a sanitizer. It is effective in removing odor caused by mold and mildew in garbage disposal.
  • How Long It Takes to Clean Garbage Disposal?
    The good news is that cleaning garbage disposal can be done in 30 seconds if using hot water.
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Author: Ivy Smith

Ivy is a professional civil engineer and also provides her consultancy at ConstructionHow from the technical aspect. Her expertise entails home improvements and real estate. But the primary strength pins down to the construction sector. She began her career with a property management company cultivating more than 20 construction and real estate projects. She also contributes as a contractor to local and international commercial and domestic individuals.