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4 Ways to Get Rid of Garbage Disposal Smells

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August 01, 2023

Garbage disposals can eat up small food scraps and make rinsing your dishes a much simpler task. But over time, the drain to the disposal—as well as the small flap—will get a nasty coating of grease, food particles, and miscellaneous buildup, and the garbage disposal smells bad, even from feet away. Cleaning it can be dangerous, so it's important to have the right tips and tricks at your disposal.

At 1-800-Plumber+Air, we specialize in all things plumbing and garbage disposal. Our team is always ready to make a house call for big issues like stuck motors, weird sounds, or plumbing problems. We're also here to help keep your disposal system smelling fresh and clean between maintenance calls. Here are our favorite quick fixes for smelly garbage disposal.

1. Try the Ice Cube Method

Below the flapper and within the disposal unit itself are the blades that break down your food scraps so they fit through the drain. But all of this cutting action means the blades will get food buildup in every crevice. Water isn't enough to scrub it away. Instead, pour a cup of ice cubes into the disposal unit and turn it on. As the ice breaks down, the shards and chips will scrape along the surface of the blades and remove a lot of the stinky buildup.

Be sure to keep the water running the whole time! This method can do more than fix a smelly garbage disposal—it can even sharpen the blades.

2. Lemons! Clean and Refresh

If you love lemon cleaners, you'll love this solution for when the garbage disposal smells bad. Just cut a whole lemon into eighths, remove the seeds, and carefully put the lemon wedges in the disposal (with the water running). The acidic lemon juice can break down food buildup and grease, and the lemon skin is "chewy" enough that it will wipe the grime off the blades and the inside of the smelly garbage disposal. It's an all-natural option if you don't want to use cleaners from a store.

3. Baking Soda and Vinegar Can Freshen It Up

This popular option works in two different ways to freshen up your sink when the garbage disposal smells bad. Pour about half a cup of baking soda into the disposal unit and let it stay there for about an hour. Baking soda can absorb smells, and the fine powder can reach the small crevices of the unit. Then pour in a cup of vinegar. Over the next five or so minutes, the mixture will froth and become agitated, reaching all the surfaces inside your disposal. Then just turn on the water and run the disposal to empty it.

4. Clean the Rubber Splatterproof Flap

Sometimes, it's not really a smelly garbage disposal unit that's the problem—it's the flap at the bottom of the sink. This becomes coated in food over time and is completely uncovered (a lot of buildup can also stick to the underside. But you don't want to just scrub it; keep your hands completely out of the disposal unit. instead, carefully peel up each flap with a chopstick and scrub the revealed surfaces. Be gentle so the rubber doesn't rip, and never put your fingers where you can't see them.

Garbage Disposal Acting Up? Call 1-800-Plumber+Air for Service

When your garbage disposal is giving you bigger problems than a funky smell—or your disposal smells bad frequently—call in the experts at 1-800-Plumber+Air. We're available 24/7 for plumbing emergencies and always provide free upfront pricing so you know what we're working on and how much it costs. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our convenient nearby locations.

Image Credit: Steve Cukrov / Shutterstock