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How to Clean a Garbage Disposal: 7 Methods and Tips

How to Clean a Garbage Disposal: 7 Methods and Tips

A clean and well-maintained garbage disposal is essential for keeping your kitchen odor-free and ensuring smooth operation. Many homeowners don’t realize that regular cleaning is necessary, resulting in leftover food particles and residue accumulating in the disposal that produces unpleasant smells.

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Fortunately, you don’t need to spend a fortune on specialized products to clean your garbage disposal. Common household items found in your kitchen will do the trick. Learning how to clean your garbage disposal properly will keep your kitchen smelling fresh and extend the lifespan of the unit.

Ways to Clean the Garbage Disposal in Your Kitchen

Maintaining a clean and functional garbage disposal is crucial for a hygienic kitchen. You can confidently tackle any disposal-related issues with simple household items and easy-to-follow steps. Take a look at our top do-it-yourself (DIY) garbage disposal cleaning methods.

1. Ice and Cold Water

Ice cubes and cold water are highly effective and readily available solutions for cleaning your garbage disposal. Simply placing a few handfuls of ice into the unit, running it, and flushing it with cold water will help dislodge trapped debris and food particles. This simple yet powerful method loosens the buildup and removes any food remnants.

2. Salt and Ice

Boost your garbage disposal cleaning routine by combining the power of ice cubes with coarse salts, like rock salt. Adding about a cup of salt to the ice cubes enhances the cleaning process by scrubbing the stubborn buildup inside the disposal.

Follow essential garbage disposal practices by running cold water while the unit operates. This simple yet potent mixture of salt and ice will leave your disposal clean and functioning at its best.

3. Baking Soda and Vinegar

If you are researching how to clean the garbage disposal in your kitchen, vinegar and baking soda is a tried-and-true method. Begin by sprinkling half a cup of baking soda into the disposal, followed by a cup of white or apple cider vinegar.

Allow the bubbling mixture to sit for five to ten minutes before running cold water while turning on the disposal. This process helps distribute the cleaning solution and flushes it through the unit, ensuring a thorough and effective clean.

4. Citrus

Citrus peels are an excellent do-it-yourself (DIY) deodorant for combatting unpleasant odors in your garbage disposal. These peels freshen up the appliance—whether it’s lime, orange, tangerine, grapefruit, or lemon.

Cut the peels into manageable pieces, then turn on the disposal and run cold water while grinding the peels. This natural and eco-friendly method will leave your garbage disposal delightfully fresh and clean.

Read More: Why Is the Garbage Disposal In My Kitchen Not Working?

5. Warm Water and Dish Soap

Utilizing warm water and dish soap is another simple yet effective method for cleaning your garbage disposal. Start by plugging the disposal drain with a sink stopper and adding a generous amount of dish detergent to the sink.

Fill the sink with hot water, then release the sink stopper while turning on the disposal, allowing the soapy water to drain into the unit. This technique ensures that the upper portions of the disposal and drain line are thoroughly cleaned, resulting in a fresh and well-maintained appliance.

6. Boiling Water

Using boiling water is another effective approach for maintaining a clean garbage disposal and tackling stubborn food particles that may cause clogs.

Pouring boiling water down the drain as a standalone technique or in conjunction with other methods mentioned in this guide effectively cleans the disposal by loosening any debris causing blockages.

7. Baking Soda and Soap

Learning how to clean your garbage disposal with baking soda involves paying attention to the drain crevices and rubber splash guards around the drain. A simple, homemade cleaner made of dish soap and baking soda is all you need for this task.

First, ensure the disposal is turned off, then use a small brush or toothbrush to scrub underneath the splash guard flaps. This thorough approach to cleaning will help keep your appliance in optimal condition and prevent the buildup of unwanted debris and odors.

How to Clean a Garbage Disposal: 7 Methods and Tips

3 Signs Your Garbage Disposal Is Clogged

Here are three telltale signs that indicate your garbage disposal is clogged and requires attention.

Loud Humming Noises

A humming sound indicates that your garbage disposal may be clogged. While the unit may vibrate within the sink, the shredder might not function properly. In such cases, turning off the appliance immediately is crucial.

Allowing it to run while jammed can cause the motor to overheat and burn out. Common causes of clogs include large debris like fruit pits and bones, small toys, and excessive food particles.

Read More: Why Is Aluminum Wiring in Homes Dangerous?


Unpleasant odors emanating from your sink often indicate clogs in the garbage disposal or food particles trapped in the grinding chamber.

These food remnants can spoil quickly due to the numerous bacteria species found in kitchen sinks, leading to foul smells spreading throughout your kitchen. A disposal system that takes an unusually long time to grind food or experiences water backflow might also signal a clogged drain line.

Malfunctioning Power and Reset Mechanism

A malfunctioning power and reset mechanism is another sign that your garbage disposal may be experiencing issues. Allowing the unit to run while clogged can cause the motor to overheat, potentially leading to a burnt-out engine or tripped circuit breaker.

Sometimes, simply pressing the “Reset” button on the unit may resolve the issue. However, repeated overheating can still result in premature motor failure. If your disposal is not turning on despite being securely plugged in and having the circuit breaker set to “On,” it may be time to consult a licensed plumber to address the problem and ensure the longevity of your appliance.

WM Henderson Team

Plumbing Repair and Installation Services

If you need help cleaning or fixing a malfunctioning garbage disposal in your home, give our team a call at (484) 206-8594 to book an appointment. Our team of local plumbers in Brookhaven, PA offer exceptional garbage disposal repair and installation services for homes in your local area.

Our technicians are committed to providing exceptional solutions for various plumbing issues, including malfunctioning water heaters, clogged sewer lines, and water leak repairs. You can trust the staff at WM Henderson to address your plumbing needs and ensure the smooth functioning of the essential systems in your house.

We also specialize in the repair and installation of water heaters, water softeners, faucets, gas lines, sewer pipes, water lines, and sump pumps. Serving residents in Delaware, Main Line, and Chester counties, our skilled technicians are dedicated to providing reliable and secure plumbing services. Don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment online to address your plumbing concerns.