Is your kitchen sink emitting unpleasant, pungent smells due to smelly garbage disposal?  In most kitchens, the garbage disposal is the one kitchen appliance that gets neglected the most until it starts to smell.

Fortunately, there are plenty of techniques you can use to get rid of those unwanted odors and keep them away for good. From using ice cubes and baking soda to running lemon peels through the blades, these techniques will help keep your garbage disposal clean, fresh, and odor-free.

So if your garbage disposal is smelling, here are the best ways to get rid of the smells in the garbage disposal and finally eliminate foul odors so you can enjoy a pleasant-smelling kitchen again!

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What causes foul smells and odors in a garbage disposal?

Garbage disposals are naturally susceptible to smells and odors over time because of the buildup of decaying food particles, grease, and other materials that can accumulate in the disposal and its surrounding pipes. Eventually, the food particles that build up, rots and sometimes decay, producing unpleasant odors.

In addition, if not used frequently, stagnant water can provide an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. Bacteria and mold can grow in the environment of the garbage disposal, further adding to the odor issue.

Simple Ways to Remove Unpleasant Smells From Your Garbage Disposal

Running Hot Water

Using hot water can help to dissolve any stuck-on food particles and create circulation to break down odors. Turn your kitchen faucet on full blast while running the garbage disposal – the hotter, the better. Be sure to run the disposal for at least a minute before turning it off to ensure that the remaining particles are completely washed away.

hot water running in garbage disposal

Ice Cubes

If you are wondering how to get rid of the garbage disposal smell with ice cubes, you’ll find that it’s super easy. All you have to do is pour a large cup of ice cubes down the garbage disposal drain while it’s running.

The ice will help to break down any odorous particles and trapped debris, as well as loosen up food and freshen up your disposal.

Additionally, the ice cube will flush out food and residue particles that may be stuck in the blades of your garbage disposal, further helping to deodorize it.

ice cube in garbage disposal

Use of Natural Deodorizers or Remedies

You can use natural ingredients to effectively deodorize and clean garbage disposal. Most of these natural remedies include common household items that you probably already have in the kitchen.  Some of these natural deodorizers or treatments include:

Citrus Peels or Fruits – Getting rid of garbage disposal odor can be as easy as slicing up a citrus fruit such as oranges, lemons, or limes and dropping the pieces down the drain opening. The natural citrus oils found in the peelings and the fruits will act as an antibacterial and anti-fungal agent to help fight odors.

citrus peels in garbage disposal

You can also grind up a handful of citrus peelings or even use slices of whole fruits in order to keep your garbage disposal smelling fresh and free from bad odors. The acidic content of citrus fruits is a natural way to help kill the bacteria that cause nasty smells while also refreshing the appliance with its pleasant aroma.

Baking Soda – To get rid of the foul odor coming from your garbage disposal, one quick and easy cleaning solution is to sprinkle baking soda into it. Just add a few tablespoons of baking soda into the disposal and run it for 15-20 seconds; the baking soda will help absorb the funky smell emanating and lingering in your kitchen.

baking soda insinkerator

White Vinegar – a tablespoon of white vinegar can also help eliminate odors.

Baking Soda and Vinegar Combination – Unpleasant garbage disposal smells can be easily eliminated with a simple combination of vinegar and baking soda. Simply mix half-cup of the vinegar with one teaspoon of baking soda and pour the mixture down your drain.

Let it sit for a few minutes or an hour (if it’s really smelly) before you wash away the mixture with warm water. The bubbling reaction will naturally kill bacteria and germs that cause odors as well as eliminate mineral deposits that may be contributing to the smell.

Mouthwash – Using mouthwash to get rid of an unpleasant smell coming from your garbage disposal is a bit unconventional, but it might just be the answer. Mouthwash may be the answer to eradicating those pesky, bad smells! Mouthwash has been used for many years to kill bacteria that cause bad breath.

Today’s mouthwashes are just as powerful at killing off germs that cause the garbage disposal smell. To freshen up your garbage disposal, pour a 1/4 cup of mouthwash in it and give it a rinse.

Add Commercial Cleaning Products

There are a variety of commercial disposal cleaners available that can help take care of unpleasant odors. Using a commercial drain cleaner can be an alternative way to get rid of odor-causing residue and get your disposal smelling fresh again.

Here are the best garbage disposal cleaners to consider:

Glisten Garbage Disposal Cleaner

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Affresh Garbage Disposal Cleaner

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CLR Garbage Disposal Cleaner Pods

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Grab Green Garbage Disposal Freshener & Cleaner Pods

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All you have to do with the commercial cleaner is drop one cleaner into the stinky garbage disposal and run cold water. Let it sit for a few minutes before flushing the remains down the drain with more clean water.

How often should you clean your garbage disposal?

Your garbage disposal should be cleaned at least once a week. However, if that is too often, try to maintain and monitor what goes into the garbage disposal so that you don’t have to clean it as frequently.

Furthermore, running hot water in the sink for several minutes daily can help reduce the cleaning frequency by flushing out food particles that may have gotten stuck in the drain.

Besides the bad smells that may emit from the garbage disposal, you need to pay attention to signs that may notify you that the disposal needs to be cleaned. These signs include frequent clogging, slimy texture build-up around the grinding chamber, and a noticeable decrease in the performance of your garbage disposal.

What can you put down a garbage disposal?

Knowing how to use garbage disposal safely and properly can preserve the appliance and reduce clumps and buildup in your plumbing. To get the most out of your garbage disposal, remember not to treat it like a trash can! Soft foods such as fruits and vegetables (without peels) are okay to put down the sink drain as long as they are chopped up first.

Liquid and biodegradable foods are also generally safe to feed into the disposal. It is worth noting that if a food item can be fed to a baby, the same goes for putting it into a garbage disposal.

Things to Avoid in Garbage Disposal

While garbage disposals can help break down food and other debris quickly and easily, some items should not be put down the drain. It’s hard to believe that a certain type of food waste should be avoided in garbage disposal.

Unfortunately, the avoidable foods are the ones that do not grind up well in a garbage disposal. They can easily cause dull blades, build-up, and clogs. If build-up occurs, then the bad smell and odor will quickly follow, and it could lead to you needing a professional plumber to fix it.

Here’s a list of items you should always avoid putting in the garbage disposal:

  • All types of Meat and Bones – uncooked or cooked.
  • Cooking oils, fats, and grease
  • Eggs and Egg Shells
  • Certain fruits and vegetables that are stringy i.e. banana peels and corn husks.
  • Coffee grounds
  • Dough
  • Pet Food
  • Non-food items.

Can you put coffee grounds down a garbage disposal?

It is not recommended to put coffee grounds down the garbage disposal. They can potentially clog your pipes and create unwanted buildup in your drain. If you wish to dispose of them, putting the grounds into a compost bin or trash can is best.

The Benefits Of Using A Garbage Disposal 

Garbage disposals are a convenient and environmentally friendly way to get rid of food waste. They save time and energy, help prevent sink clogs, reduce bad odors in the kitchen, and help keep pests away.

Also, using garbage disposal reduces the amount of kitchen waste that goes into landfills and prevents it from ending up in lake systems or other bodies of water.

How does a garbage disposal work?

A garbage disposal works by grinding up material in your kitchen sinks, such as food scraps, bones, and vegetable peelings. The unit is usually connected to the drain system of your sink, located underneath it.

When you turn on the garbage disposal, a motor turns on spinning blades that grind the waste into small pieces that can be easily washed away into the sewage system without blocking any pipes.

I hope you have found these ideas helpful and useful. I’d love to hear your thoughts about this article, so leave a comment below. Feel free also to follow me on my social media pages – Pinterest and Instagram or subscribe to my mailing list for other cleaning tricks, design inspiration, and home decor ideas.

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Tamara White is the creator and founder of The Thrifty Apartment, a home decor and DIY blog that focuses on affordable and budget-friendly home decorating ideas and projects. Tamara documents her home improvement journey, love of thrifting, tips for space optimization, and creating beautiful spaces.

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