What to Do if Your Garbage Disposal Smells Bad

If your garbage disposal smells bad, you’re probably scrambling to figure out a way to get rid of that horrible stench. There’s nothing like a foul odor wafting through your kitchen to make you lose your appetite, which may sound like a good diet plan at first, but isn’t something you really want to live with long-term.

Why Your Garbage Disposal Smells Bad

First of all, you’ve got to figure out why your garbage disposal smells bad. Have you been grinding up anything and everything that looks like it might fit down the disposal? While many garbage disposals claim they can handle just about anything, you’ll find that’s not the truth. Some of the worst things to put down your garbage disposal are:

  • Chicken skins (They smell horrible when decomposing and can gum up your blades or get plastered along the sides of the disposal where they sit and rot)
  • Egg shells (They don’t break down and they get stuck on the sides of your disposal)
  • Animal fat of any kind (This will coat your pipes and your disposal and can smell horrible)
  • Celery (the strands get wrapped around the blades or stuck along the sides of the disposal where they decompose)
  • Vegetable peels (like celery strands, they stick to the sides of the disposal)

How to Clean Your Garbage Disposal

If your garbage disposal already smells bad, you’ll need to get it clean and then keep it clean. This will extend the life of your garbage disposal and will keep your kitchen smelling fresh.

If you’re cleaning a much-neglected garbage disposal (don’t feel bad – most people don’t realize they have to clean the garbage disposal until it stinks), start by running hot water down the sink. You’ll want to run the hottest water possible (it’s advisable to heat water on the stove until boiling) for a good solid two minutes.

Follow the hot water with a mixture of hot water and degreasing dish soap. You’ll want to mix 1/8 cup of the dish soap with four cups of boiling hot water and send that mixture down the disposal. Follow with two minutes of hot water.

Now turn off the power to your garbage disposal, take a bottle brush (those ones you buy to clean baby bottles) and scrub the black flaps on the drain and as far down into the disposal as you can safely reach. The bottle scrubber will get any stuff that’s stuck to the sides of the flaps or disposal off.

Turn on the power to your disposal again and send three cups of ice cubes down your disposal. The ice will sharpen the blades and scrape any remaining gunk out of the disposal.

How to Keep Your Garbage Disposal Clean

Now that you’ve got your garbage disposal clean, you’ll want to perform the following regular maintenance:

  • Always run the water while the food is being ground up and for at least 30 seconds after the food has finished grinding to make sure everything has been washed down
  • Perform a weekly rinse of either hot water and baking soda, hot water and dish soap, or hot water and vinegar (but no combination of these ingredients) to clean out your disposal
  • Put a load of ice cubes through the disposal once a month

Replacing Your Garbage Disposal

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One comment on “What to Do if Your Garbage Disposal Smells Bad

  1. Lynn Segura on

    So I’m actually up here in Illinois. My garbage disposal has stopped working. Due Due to COVID-19 I’m not sure when I’ll get it replaced. Is it going to start smelling and what should I do? would really appreciate your comment

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