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Deodorize the Garbage Disposal with Lemon Rinds

May 25, 2024

Deodorize the Garbage Disposal with Lemon Rinds

Tackling the Garbage Disposal Horror

If I had to write a culinary-themed horror movie, the plot would revolve around a garbage disposal. You know, that black mysterious hole in your sink that screams at you every time you turn it on. I get it’s great at making food scraps disappear, but for the first six months of having one in my apartment, I was terrified of gashing a finger. So needless to say, I never learned how to clean the garbage disposal either.

According to the pros, this is bad kitchen etiquette. A feral garbage disposal filled with lingering scraps and food residue can create undesirable smells, says Aurielle Sayeh, founder of Moody Maids, a cleaning company operating in New York City and Atlanta. Cleaning a garbage disposal is also important to keep it working effectively, says Jennifer Rodriguez, the chief hygiene officer at Pro Housekeepers, which serves cities throughout the US. “A properly cleaned garbage disposal can last for years.”

Garbage Disposal Cleaning Methods

It turns out that the whole process is less intimidating than I thought. Here are some simple and effective ways to keep that disposal sparkling clean:

The Ice Cube Method

Eric Schultz, director of product management at InSinkErator, uses a cocktail of simple ingredients. Pack 2 cups ice cubes, 1 Tbsp. baking soda, and 1 lemon slice into your garbage disposal and grind with cold running water until it’s all gone. It may fizz a little at first from the baking soda and lemon, but you don’t have to stress about ice chips flying about (those little garbage disposal flaps keep everything contained). The ice cubes help break up any food that might be stuck onto your disposal, the baking soda provides some scrubbing power, and the citrus peels help deodorize everything.

The Lemon-Only Method

Rodriguez prefers to just use lemons. “The acidity of lemon juice can cut through grease and grime, and it has antibacterial properties that fight odors,” she says. Take 1 lemon and cut it into wedges, including the lemon peels. Run your cold tap and then start the garbage disposal. Feed each wedge into the disposal, one piece at a time—until you hear the grinding stop. This method might be loud, Rodriguez says, but “the extra work of the blades going through the rind will even help clean them, leaving your garbage disposal smelling fresh and lemony.”

The Vinegar Method

Meanwhile, the Moody Maids team uses an apple cider vinegar and baking soda combo (though any cheap vinegar like white vinegar could do the trick here). For this route, pour ½ cup baking soda and 1 cup vinegar into the disposal and let it sit for 10 minutes. Run hot water from your faucet, then turn on the garbage disposal until the mixture and food particles have washed away.

The Power Flush

When just soapy water and dish soap won’t cut it, like after the Thanksgiving dinner cleanup, Schultz also suggests you “power flush” your garbage disposal to give it a deep clean. To do this, plug your kitchen sink, add cold water until it’s three-quarters full. Then pull the plug, turn on the disposal, and let it run until the water has cleared out. “This will typically do an excellent job of cleaning out the disposer grind chamber, along with several feet of the downstream drain pipe,” he says.

The Right Way to Use a Garbage Disposal

Whichever option you choose, Sayeh recommends cleaning your garbage disposal once a month. But to keep gunk and odor buildup to a minimum in between, Schultz says how you use a garbage disposal also matters.

It’s essential that you always run cold water while using it (so fats stay congealed and can get chopped up), he says, and feed food waste into the disposal gradually. Once it’s finished grinding, Schultz also recommends letting water run for an extra 10 seconds before shutting it off.

What you put down the sink drain can make a difference to its cleanliness and functionality too. “Some foods could clog the machine, while others can cause damage to the pipes and wastewater,” says Rodriguez. She suggests avoiding oils and hot grease, seafood shells, corn husks, potatoes, banana peels, and artichokes. “And no bones!” adds Sayeh.

A Happy Ending

I’ve been following these tips for a while now, and let me just say: plot twist. My garbage disposal horror movie actually has a happy ending. By using a combination of lemon peels, baking soda, and vinegar, I’ve been able to keep my disposal clean, fresh-smelling, and in top working condition.

And the best part? It’s all-natural, inexpensive, and takes minimal effort. No more terror, just a sparkling sink and a gleaming garbage disposal that’s ready to take on any food scraps I throw its way.

If you’re in the Nottingham, UK area and need a reliable cleaning service that can keep your kitchen in pristine condition, be sure to check out Adam Cleaning. They’re the experts when it comes to all things kitchen cleanliness, from the sink to the stove and everything in between.

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