Search Icon Graphic | Dwellin Inc

How to Clean a Garbage Disposal - 6 Easy Steps

6 minute read

How to Clean a Garbage Disposal 6 Easy Steps 2x 100

As lovers of food (and cleanup), the garbage disposal is one of our favorite underrated home appliances. It cleans up our mess with a quick switch, remains hidden under the sink, and helps us avoid everything gross about cleanup. However, this pro appliance also needs a little bit of TLC now and then.

What is a Garbage Disposal?

We are sure you know the kitchen sink’s best friend, garbage disposal. But here is the technical description for good measure: A garbage disposal is an electronic machine located under the kitchen sink to dispose of the food collected in the sink while cleaning up. Once the food goes through the trap under the sink, the machine grinds it (with a flip of a switch) into smaller particles that can pass through the plumbing system without clogging it.

If you are curious, see a quick video to understand the inner working of the garbage disposal.

If your garbage disposal has been giving you plumbing problems, unpleasant odors, clogging issues, or other problems, you may want to take a few precautions. Improper disposal can rake up maintenance costs and reduce the life of your garbage disposal. On the other hand, if you are diligent about keeping your garbage disposal clean, it will run smoothly for years to come

Do’s and Don’ts of using a garbage disposal

Always use running water while disposing
of the debris.
Don’t overload the disposal by putting too much at once.
Use only cold water while disposing of the debris.Don’t pour down hot water into a clogged disposal unit.
Make sure to run the garbage disposal every few days, even if you have not used it in a while.Don’t keep the garbage disposal idle for a prolonged period as it can increase the risk of corrosion and rust on machine plates.
Use trash cans, recycle bins for hard and non-biodegradable debris.Avoid grinding non-food items down the disposal unit. It can damage the motor.
Consult a professional if needed.Don’t use bare hands to pull out any debris.
Perform deep cleaning of the machine every 2 weeks.Avoid using harsh chemicals while cleaning the disposal.

Most garbage disposals work efficiently for around 10-12 years, depending on the things you put down the equipment. However, if you keep abusing the disposal by repeatedly pouring improper foods, it will not only reduce the disposal’s lifespan but also cause plumbing damage. To prevent this, it is best to learn the foods you can and cannot put down at the garbage disposal.

How to clean garbage disposal?

Like any other appliance, your garbage disposal also requires timely cleaning. During use, small particles can get stuck within the walls and clog the drain lines, thereby affecting the disposal performance and lifespan.

Also, allowing the gunk to sit inside the appliance can build up harmful bacteria and molds, leaving an unpleasant odor. So, the next time your garbage sink starts to smell like a dumpster, it is a sign the disposal needs cleaning.

However, the good news is that performing such cleaning routines will save you hundreds of dollars from expensive repairs. It is a quick and easy process, plus you can complete the task with common household products available in the kitchen.

To get started, follow these simple steps to keep your disposal bacteria-free and spotless.

Garbage disposal cleaning steps

Step 1: Turn off the disposal

To prevent any accidental, electrical mishaps while cleaning, the first step is to turn off and unplug the disposal from the main switch. To turn off, either pull the plug under the sink or directly disconnect it from the service panel (breaker box).


Always double-check if you have disconnected the right switch by turning on the disposal before starting the cleaning process.

Step 2: Clean the splash guard

Splash guard is the rubber material used to stop the leftover from being flashed back into the sink. One of the major reasons for garbage disposal smells is a lot of small food particles and grease that get caught up underneath the guard. So, to clean the splash guard scrub it with an old toothbrush and soak it in a liquid soapy solution. Later, re-scrub it and remove away any grime or slime.

Step 3: Check if there are any blockages

Use a flashlight to check if any food residue is choking the grinder. Take the help of tongs or nose-pilers to remove them. Use a long-handled brush to clean the insides of the disposal. You can also add a small amount of garbage disposal cleaner on the tip of the brush to deep cleanse the grinder.


Do not use hands or fingers to clear the debris from the grinder.

Step 4: Clear gunk with Baking Soda and Vinegar

Now pour half a cup of baking soda down the disposal and let it sit for 30minutes to 1 hour. Then, pour a cup of white vinegar; it will fizz up the solution and form foamy bubbles, up into the sink. In this process, the acidic solution kills the bacteria. Also, doing so will clear off the clogged drains and gunk from the disposal within a few minutes.

Next, plugin and turn on the garbage disposal button to rinse the vinegar solution with hot water. For this step, you can also use other alternative solutions such as – borax, and dishwasher cleanser.


Cover the drain with a splash guard before pouring white vinegar.

Step 5: Clean the grinding chamber with ice and salt

Ice and rock salt are a great alternative to keep the dirt and grime away from disposal. It not only cleans the chambers but also acts as a scrub to clean the inner plates. The ice helps to clean the slimy residue, while the salt helps to deodorize.

Pour 2-3 cups of ice into the sink. Now add salt on top of it, run cold water and turn on the garbage disposal switch. Keep the tap on, until all the ice cubes grind down the disposal.

Step 6: Deodorize the sink with lemons

For the last step, grind up some lemon peels (or any other citrus fruit peels) into the disposal, turn on the power and run it with cold water.

If you really have a smelly garbage disposal then the lemon is a perfect option to get a pleasantly fresh fragrance, refreshing the whole sink.

Step 7: Combination of steps (optional)

If you want to clean the gunk, scrub the plates and deodorize the sink at once, then here is an ultimate solution to how you can combine all the steps.

Add chunks of citrus to vinegar and freeze the solution in an ice cube tray. Pour these ice cubes down to the disposal and do not forget to run tap water.

Maintaining garbage disposal is easier if you follow the do’s and don’t, perform regular cleaning, and pour the right materials down the disposal. Taking off time to clean the disposal will not only maintain the disposal but also leave your kitchen smelling fresh and inviting.





Subscription banner mobile image 2x