Do I Have to Clean the Garbage Disposal?

Do you ever go to do the dishes and smell something that’s a bit off? If so, you’re not alone. Garbage disposals are literal trash eaters, it makes sense that sometimes they can start to smell. If you’re asking, the answer is yes, you have to clean the garbage disposal.

Tools Needed

Garbage disposals are great because they usually clean themselves. However, there are times when they need a little extra help. Fortunately, this isn’t too often, and you don’t need to be on a set schedule for it. Just clean it out any time you notice an odor.

When it’s to get down to business, there are a few things you’ll need.

  • Rubber Gloves
  • Abrasive Sided Kitchen Sponge
  • Dish Soap
  • Ice
  • Rock Salt
  • Citrus Peels

Clean the Garbage Disposal, Part 1: Scrubbing Instructions

The good news is that cleaning your garbage disposal is something that is relatively quick and easy.

Step One: Turn off the Power

When you clean the garbage disposal, your first step is to turn off the power.

Before you do anything with the garbage disposal, you need to turn off the power. We don’t want to turn your clean up project into a crime scene.

There are two ways to turn off a garbage disposal. If you can reach the plug in the back, just pull the plug. For those who aren’t so lucky, locate the breaker box and turn off the power to the disposal there.

After everything is off, flip the switch a few times to make sure the power is really off.

Step Two: Clean the Sink Baffle

When you clean the garbage disposal, don't forget to scrub the sink baffle.

Yes, the rubber splash guard that sits in the mouth of your garbage disposal is called a baffle. The technical name is sink baffle and it attracts a lot of gunk.

To clean it, start by wetting a sponge, soaping it up, and using the abrasive side to scrub everything. Don’t forget to clean between the folds and bottom.

Be sure to routinely rinse the sponge as it gets dirtier and dirtier.

Step Three: Scrub the Grinding Chamber

When it comes to clean the garbage disposal, cleaning out the grinding chamber is essential.

Keep in mind, you will not be scrubbing the blades themselves, we’re leaving that to the ice and salt. Instead, you’ll be cleaning the inside of the grinding chamber.

Use your sponge and just start scrubbing from the top. Work your way down until you’re at the bottom of the grinding chamber. You are finished when the sponge isn’t pulling any more grime.

Just like cleaning the baffle, remember to rinse the sponge when it gets covered in disposal residue.

Step Four: Add the Ice

This step is easy. Just fill the garbage disposal with ice cubes.

You don’t need to fill it all the way to the top, but it never hurts to put in too much ice.

Step Five: Add the Salt and Run the Disposal

This final step has a few parts. First, measure a cup of rock salt and pour it down the drain with the ice.

Next, make sure no hands are near the disposal and flip that power switch back on. Run some cold water and let the disposal grind through the ice and salt.

We recommend using cold water to clear the disposal. Cooler water keeps fats and oils clumped together. We want this because warm water can break up fats and oils, causing them to create a buildup.

Clean the Garbage Disposal, Part 2: Deodorizing

After you’re done cleaning the garbage disposal, it’s time to get rid of that lingering odor.

We like to go the natural route and use citrus peels. It doesn’t matter if you choose orange, lemon, grapefruit, or lime, just pick the one you like the most. And make sure they’re fresh peels.

Throw the peels into your now clean garbage disposal and let them grind through. Your disposal should now smell like the citrus fruit of your choice.