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How to Clean Your Garbage Disposal


Stephens Plumbing

July 10, 2023


Your garbage disposal is probably one of the most important appliances in your home and probably one of the appliances that gets the least attention.

Keeping your garbage disposal clean isn’t just an essential part of kitchen maintenance. It’s also critical for maintaining sanitary conditions, preventing odors, and helping your garbage disposal last longer.

Unfortunately, many of the products on the market for cleaning your garbage disposal aren’t very effective and can leave the odors and germs from food waste untouched in your sink.

Here’s what you need to know to learn how to clean your garbage disposal effectively:

Why Do You Need To Clean Your Garbage Disposal

Most people clean their garbage disposals mainly to get rid of stinking food waste and residue. It’s also a good idea to ensure your kitchen stays clean to help improve the long-term performance of your garbage disposal.

If you wouldn’t let food residue sit in your kitchen sink, you shouldn’t let it sit in your garbage disposal either.

Steps To Clean Your Garbage Disposal

Thankfully, cleaning your garbage disposal isn’t very difficult. Most models are designed with cleaning in mind, and a good garbage disposal has plenty of cleaning power all by itself. You just have to know how to use them.

Step 1: Remove The Splash Guard

The splash guard is the flexible black rubber portion of your garbage disposal that attaches to your sink. It’s there to keep food and liquids from getting out of the garbage disposal while it’s running, but it can also get a film of food residue that eventually starts to stink.

Most of these splash guards are fully removable, and you can just toss them in the dishwasher to get them clean.

Put the splash guard back after the wash cycle. If you’re still noticing an odor, it’s time for step 2.

Step 2: Check For Larger Food Bits

The next step is to check and ensure you don’t have something larger in your disposal that could be causing the smell. A flashlight can often let you see into the disposal enough to spot larger chunks of debris that could be blocking the disposal.

If there’s nothing there, run the disposal with the tap running to help flush the whole thing.

Step 3: The Cleaning Power of Ice and Lemon

Most garbage disposal units are more than strong enough to crush ice, which makes ice an ideal cleaning material for your disposal. While it’s crushed, it can scour clean the inside of the disposal.

Adding a little baking soda can help deodorize the disposal.

Some people add a small amount of bleach or sink cleaner to this mix, but it’s optional. If you’re dealing with a severe odor, you might want to add a teaspoon or so of your cleaner of choice.

Lastly, add a couple of slices of lemon to create a lasting fresh scent. The acid in the lemon also helps cut through residues, giving you a more lasting clean.

Run the motor without water until the ice grinding sound stops, then turn on the tap and run for at least 30 seconds to flush any remnants down the drain.

Congratulations, you’ve just cleaned your garbage disposal.

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