Why Your Garbage Disposal Smells and How to Fix It

Why Your Garbage Disposal Smells and How to Fix It

⭐ Tackling Garbage Disposal Smells: A Homeowner’s Guide

Garbage disposals are a great way to get rid of food waste without worrying about it stinking up your whole kitchen afterwards. But what happens when the garbage disposal smells bad? Disposal smells can make using your kitchen a dreaded task. Add guests to the equation, and it can also be very embarrassing if they notice the repellent scent.

Fortunately, there are steps that homeowners can take to prevent their garbage disposal from such a smelly fate. In this article, we’ll look at some simple yet effective strategies for cleaning your disposal well and smelling like daisies. Or at least not like fibrous vegetables.

cleaning a garbage disposal

⭐ What Is Causing My Smelly Garbage Disposal?

A variety of factors can cause an unpleasant garbage disposal smell. One common culprit is leftover food particles that become trapped in the disposal and begin to rot, creating a foul odor.

Additionally, grease and oils poured down the drain can accumulate in the disposal and on the blades, leading to a rotten smell. Over time, bacteria can also grow in the moist environment of the garbage disposal, making an already bad problem worse.

Finally, if the disposal is not used frequently enough, stagnant water can develop and emit a musty smell.

⭐ How Much Smell Is Out Of The Ordinary?

overflowing sink

A properly functioning garbage disposal should not produce any noticeable odor. However, a mild smell from the garbage disposal can come about normally if the appliance is used regularly, even when properly maintained.

On the other hand, an overpowering, pungent, or rotten smell should not be expected when garbage disposals work and requires immediate attention.

📗 Related Reading: Why Is My Garbage Disposal Not Working?

⭐ Ways To Reduce Garbage Disposal Smell

leftover food

Apart from being a source of embarrassment, an unpleasant-smelling garbage disposal can also be a breeding ground for harmful bacteria and other pathogens, posing a risk to the health of your household.

Here are some ways you can keep your garbage disposal smelling fresh and your home in good health:

⭐ Clean Your Garbage Disposal

Cleaning your garbage disposal is an effective way to combat foul odors. However, it’s essential to first take some safety precautions to avoid injury, even when using natural remedies. Before cleaning, please turn off the power supply to the disposal by unplugging it or turning off the circuit breaker.

🛑 PRO TIP: Never put your hand inside the disposal while cleaning or attempt to remove any objects with your fingers. Use tongs, pliers, or a long-handled brush to remove debris from the disposal.

🧰 Ice and Salt

One effective way to clean smelly garbage disposal is by using ice and salt. Fill the disposal with a few cups of ice cubes and add a tablespoon of table salt, then turn on the disposal and let it grind the ice and salt mixture.

The ice and salt’s abrasive texture will help remove any built-up debris and grime on the blades and walls of the disposal unit. As the ice cubes melt, it will also clean the drain and flush out any decaying food particles. Repeat this process monthly to keep bad smells away from your disposal.

🧰 Baking Soda and Vinegar

Baking soda and vinegar are another effective method to clean a smelly garbage disposal. First, pour a half cup of baking soda into the disposal unit, followed by a cup of vinegar, preferably distilled white vinegar.

The mixture will begin to fizz, demonstrating that a chemical reaction is actively breaking down and dissolving any grime and buildup. As the fizzing subsides, turn on the disposal and let it grind the mixture for a few seconds.

Afterward, run hot water down the drain for approximately 30 seconds to flush out any remaining debris. This baking soda combo will eliminate odors and disinfect and sanitize the disposal, leaving it free from foul smells. Repeat this process once a month for optimal results.

🧰 Dish Soap

Dish soap is another effective tool for dealing with garbage disposal smells. First, run hot water into the kitchen sink and add a few drops of dish soap directly into the disposal unit.

Then, turn on the disposal and let it run for a few seconds, allowing the soapy water to work around the blades and into the disposal chamber. Afterward, rinse the disposal with hot water for half a minute to flush out the lingering debris. Dish soap is an excellent cleaning agent that gently removes grime and buildup.

However, caution should be taken when using dish soap in a garbage disposal as using too much can cause suds to form, damaging your garbage disposal.

🧰 Store-Bought Products

Store-bought products such as specialized cleaners can also effectively tackle garbage disposal smells. These cleaners typically contain natural enzymes and bacteria that break down and eliminate any built-up organic matter in the disposal. Some models may also include surfactants for added cleaning power.

However, it is important to note that not all store-bought products are created equal. For example, some may contain harsh chemicals that can corrode or damage the garbage disposal. Therefore, it is essential to carefully read the labels and choose a product that is safe for the type of garbage disposal you have.

Users should follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, wearing rubber gloves and eye protection where recommended.

🧰 Clean Your Splash Guard

Garbage disposal kitchen sink

A splash guard is an essential component of garbage disposal, as it prevents food particles and debris from splashing out during operation. However, the splash guard can become clogged with organic materials like food particles and coffee grounds over time, leading to a foul odor. Cleaning the splash guard regularly can help to keep clogs from forming in the unit.

To clean the splash guard, first unplug the disposal and use a screwdriver to remove the guard from the unit. Next, soak the guard in a mixture of hot water and dish soap for several minutes to loosen any buildup. Scrub the guard with a soft-bristled scrub brush or an old toothbrush (or a new one if you have a score to settle with someone) to remove any remaining food waste or debris.

Rinse the guard thoroughly under running water and reattach it to the disposal.

⭐ Preventing Garbage Disposal Smells In The Future

cleaning kitchen

Preventing problems with smelly garbage disposals in the future is crucial to maintaining a clean and healthy kitchen environment. One of the most effective ways to prevent odor buildup is to be mindful of what you put down the disposal.

Avoid putting fibrous, starchy, greasy food scraps and coffee grounds into the unit, as these can quickly get stuck and create blockages. Additionally, running cold water before and after using the disposal can help to flush out any debris and keep the blades clean.

Regular cleaning and maintenance also play a vital role in preventing unpleasant smells from lingering in the kitchen.

⭐ Final Words On What To Do If Your Garbage Disposal Smells Bad

Phyxter Approved Logo on Service Truck

In conclusion, a smelly garbage disposal can be easily avoided with proper cleaning and maintenance techniques. By avoiding putting fibrous, starchy foods, or greasy foods into the unit, running cold water before and after using it, regularly cleaning the splash guard, and following manufacturer instructions carefully when using store-bought products, you can keep your garbage disposal from bad smells.

If you encounter any problems with your garbage disposal that you feel are beyond your abilities, don’t hesitate to contact Phyxter Plumbing Services. Our expert technicians will quickly have your system clean and smelling great in no time! Having any other problems around the house? We’ve got the advice you need. Check out our other articles.

📗 Related Reading: 

Russell Jones

Russell, a native Australian and VP of Operations at Phyxter Home Services, is also part-owner of Vernon Air Conditioning, Plumbing, and Electrical Services. When he's not busy with work projects and renovations, Russell enjoys putting his vast knowledge of home improvement to good use by sharing his tips and tricks.

About our blog

Phyxter (pronounced Fix-ter) is a national home services brand specializing in Residential HVAC, Electrical and Plumbing solutions.

Phyxter is laser-focused on writing the best articles and guides to empower homeowners to get the best out of their homes.

We hope you enjoy it!

Looking for something?

Join our Newsletter!