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Person Cleaning Their Garbage Disposal

How to Clean Your Garbage Disposal Using Household Items

In this blog, we look into how to clean your garbage disposal using simple, everyday household items. A well-maintained garbage disposal is critical to making it last as long as possible and keeping your sink working well and smelling great.

We’ll cover:

  • Why should you clean your garbage disposal?
  • Signs your garbage disposal may need cleaning 
  • Essential safety tip!
  • Garbage disposal cleaning tips
  • Regular garbage disposal maintenance tips
  • When to call a plumbing professional

Why Should You Clean Your Garbage Disposal?

Your garbage disposal works hard to eliminate kitchen waste, but without regular cleaning, it can become a source of unpleasant odors, clogs, and inefficiency. Cleaning it not only freshens up your kitchen but also extends the life of the disposal and ensures it operates smoothly.

Signs You Should Clean Your Garbage Disposal

Pay attention to these red flags: unusual noises, lingering bad odors, slow drainage, or a disposal that just doesn’t seem to work as well as it used to. These signs suggest it’s time for a cleanup session. Proactive maintenance can prevent more severe issues down the line.

Safety first!

If you spot any clogs, grab some tongs or needle-nose pliers to get the stuff out. Don’t stick your hand in the garbage disposal if you can avoid it, but if you’ve got no choice, make sure it’s unplugged first. Slip on a rubber glove to keep your hand safe and carefully fish out whatever’s causing the blockage. Just watch out for those sharp blades!

Tips To Clean Your Garbage Disposal

Here are some DIY methods to get your garbage disposal sparkling and odor-free:

Ice and Cold Water

Grinding ice in the disposal can help knock off any debris stuck on the blades, while cold water flushes it out. This method also sharpens the blades.

  1. Fill the garbage disposal with ice cubes.
  2. Turn on the disposal and run cold water.
  3. Let the disposal grind the ice, which helps knock off debris from the blades.
  4. Continue running the water for about a minute after the ice is crushed to flush out any remaining debris.

Ice and Salt

Combining ice with rock salt (or even coarse sea salt) provides an abrasive mixture that can scrub away grime effectively.

  1. Pour a cup of ice cubes followed by a half-cup of rock salt into the disposal.
  2. Turn on the disposal and run cold water.
  3. Let the disposal grind the ice and salt mixture, which scrubs the interior clean.
  4. Run cold water for an additional minute to ensure all debris is flushed away.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

This dynamic duo is great for deep cleaning. The fizzing action helps to break down gunk and eliminate odors.

  1. Pour a half-cup of baking soda into the disposal.
  2. Follow with a cup of white vinegar.
  3. Let the mixture fizz and sit for about 10 minutes to break down grime and eliminate odors.
  4. Boil a pot of water while you wait.
  5. After 10 minutes, slowly pour the boiling water down the disposal to flush out the loosened debris.

Citrus Peels

Not only do they smell great, but citrus peels also contain natural oils that help clean and freshen up the disposal.

  1. Cut citrus peels into small enough pieces to fit easily through your disposal.
  2. Turn on the disposal and feed the peels into it, along with a steady stream of cold water.
  3. The grinding will release oils from the peels, freshening up the disposal and kitchen.

Hot Water and Dish Soap

This method helps to dissolve and flush away fats or oils that might have solidified inside the disposal.

  1. Plug the drain and fill the sink halfway with hot (not boiling) water.
  2. Add a few squirts of dish soap to the water.
  3. Unplug the drain and turn on the disposal, allowing the soapy water to flush through the system, cleaning as it goes.


Sometimes the above methods can get stuck on stubborn issues, so we recommend using Borax, a mild and non-abrasive cleaner that can help sanitize and remove odors without harming the disposal’s mechanics.

  1. Sprinkle 3-4 tablespoons of Borax into the garbage disposal.
  2. Let it sit for about an hour to sanitize and deodorize the unit.
  3. After an hour, turn on the disposal and run hot water to rinse away the Borax and any loosened debris.

Regular Garbage Disposal Maintenance Tips

To keep your disposal in excellent condition, aim to clean it at least once a month. Also, be mindful of what you’re putting down there—avoid fibrous materials, large bones, or non-food items. Quick daily flushes with water or a weekly cleaning routine can significantly reduce potential issues.

When to Call a Plumbing Professional

While regular garbage disposal maintenance can prevent many problems, if you encounter persistent issues or suspect a mechanical fault, it’s time to call in the experts. Remember, it’s better to address potential problems early than to face a complete breakdown.


By adopting these simple and effective cleaning practices with everyday household items, you can make sure your disposal remains reliable and smells great. 

Happy cleaning, and remember, we’re here for you when the going gets tough, but with these tips, we’re confident you’ll keep your disposal in great shape for years to come!

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