8 Tips on How to Clean a Garbage Disposal

Did you know that your home’s garbage disposal needs to be cleaned regularly? After you use it, food particles and residue can be left behind, causing the unit to have an unpleasant odor. To avoid garbage disposal smells in your kitchen, learn how to clean it and keep it in great shape.

The good news is that you don’t have to buy special or expensive products to do the job. You can clean it with common household items that you probably already have in your kitchen. 

Cleaning and regular garbage disposal maintenance can go a long way toward extending the longevity of your appliance. Here are the best tips for how to clean a garbage disposal.  

1. Ice cubes and cold water 


One of the best methods to clean a garbage disposal is using ice cubes—all you need is a freezer and a little H2O. 

Put a few handfuls of ice into the unit, turn it on, and run some cold water down the drain while the cubes grind. When you clean your garbage disposal with ice, trapped debris and food loosen up. The cold water helps flush them down the drain.  

2. Ice and rock salt


Do you want to increase your cleaning power with another household item? Add about a cup of rock salt, or coarse salt, and the ice cubes to your garbage disposal. 

Remember to always follow garbage disposal dos and don’ts by running cold water when you turn on the disposal. 

3. Baking soda and vinegar 


Clean your garbage disposal with baking soda and vinegar for a pristine appliance.

  • Sprinkle about a half-cup of baking soda into the disposal, followed by a cup of white or apple cider vinegar. 

  • Let the mixture bubble up and sit for five to ten minutes.

  • Turn on the disposal and run cold water to distribute the mixture and flush it through the unit. 

4. Citrus 


When you have a smelly garbage disposal, you can use any citrus peel as a great DIY garbage disposal deodorant. Lime, orange, tangerine, grapefruit, or lemon in your garbage disposal will help refresh the appliance. Be sure to cut the peels into small enough pieces for the unit to handle, then turn it on and run cold water while the peels grind. 

5. Borax 


One of the best garbage disposal cleaners may already be under your sink. Borax is a natural laundry booster used in many household cleaning products. To clean your garbage disposal, simply sprinkle a few tablespoons of Borax into the unit, then run cold water for about 30 seconds. 

6. Hot water and dish soap 


Another method for cleaning a garbage disposal requires only hot water and dish soap. Here are the steps:

  • Plug the disposal drain with a sink stopper and add a generous squirt of dish detergent to the sink. 

  • Run hot water into the sink until it’s halfway full. 

  • As you release the sink stopper, turn on the disposal and let the entire sink’s contents drain into the unit while it runs.

This cleaning method helps fill the disposal with soapy water to reach the upper portions of the unit, which often don’t get cleaned by other methods. It also helps clean the disposal drain line, which can harbor food residue and odors. 

7. Boiling water 


Pouring boiling water into the drain—by itself or following one of the other methods listed here—not only helps clean the disposal but also loosens stubborn food particles to unclog a garbage disposal.  

8. Dish soap and baking soda 


Don’t forget that it’s also important to clean the drain crevices around the disposal and the rubber splash guard around the drain. You don’t need anything fancy: You can use a simple garbage disposal cleaner made of dish soap and baking soda. First, make sure the disposal is turned off. Then, use a small brush or toothbrush to scrub underneath the splashguard flaps.  

Remember to use caution when operating your garbage disposal and when using any of these disposal cleaning methods. Never put your hand into the unit for any reason, even if the unit is off. Learning how to clean a garbage disposal will help keep your sink and kitchen inviting for your family and guests.  

Did you know American Home Shield® offers a garbage disposal warranty? When a covered  garbage disposal component breaks down from normal wear and tear, a home warranty can help offset the cost to repair or replace it if it can’t be repaired. Find out more about how to protect the hardworking home systems and appliances in your household by exploring our costs and home warranty plans today.

Learn more about what to put in the garbage disposal.

AHS assumes no responsibility, and specifically disclaims all liability, for your use of any and all information contained herein.

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New Jersey Residents: The product being offered is a service contract and is separate and distinct from any product or service warranty which may be provided by the home builder or manufacturer.