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Natural Solutions for Cleaning and Deodorizing Your Garbage Disposal

Posted January 21, 2023 by Mike Lewis under Tips

Natural Solutions for Cleaning and Deodorizing Your Garbage Disposal

Why Keeping Your Disposal Clean is Important

Kitchen garbage disposals are incredibly convenient for getting rid of food scraps, but they can easily get dirty and start to smell bad. Keeping your disposal clean and deodorized is important for several reasons:

  • Prevents clogs: Allowing food buildup in the disposal can lead to clogs that prevent the unit from working properly. Regular cleaning helps break up grease and grime.

  • Limits bacterial growth: Wet food scraps are a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. Cleaning the disposal limits bacteria growth and the chance of cross-contamination when you use the sink.

  • Reduces odors: Old food debris causes unpleasant odors to come up from the drain. Cleaning removes the source of the smell.

  • Improves performance: Grease and grime can negatively impact the components in the disposal. Keeping it clean allows your unit to run more efficiently.

  • Extends lifespan: Regular cleaning and maintenance helps prevent costly repairs and replacements down the road. A well-maintained disposal will last longer.

Safe Natural Cleaners for Disposals

Harsh chemical cleaners can damage the components in your garbage disposal. Fortunately, there are several effective natural cleaners that can dissolve clogs and neutralize odors safely:

Baking Soda

Baking soda is mildly abrasive so it can dislodge gunk, and it also deodorizes. Here’s how to use it:

  • Pour 1⁄2 cup of baking soda down the drain.

  • Add 1⁄2 cup of vinegar and let fizz for a few minutes to clean.

  • Run hot water for 60 seconds to rinse.

White Vinegar

The acidic properties of vinegar break down fatty oils and dissolve stubborn food deposits. To clean with vinegar:

  • Pour 1 cup of vinegar down the drain.

  • Let sit for 10 minutes.

  • Run hot water for 60 seconds.

Lemon Juice

Like vinegar, lemon juice removes grease and grime with its acidity. Try this:

  • Cut a lemon into wedges and stick down the disposal.

  • Turn on the disposal and let it grind up the lemon pieces.

  • Run water for 30 seconds afterwards.


Salt works as an abrasive to scrub the disposal walls. Here’s how to use it:

  • Pour 1⁄2 cup of salt down the drain.

  • Grind a few ice cubes to scrub the inside.

  • Rinse by running the disposal with hot water.

Tips for Regular Maintenance

To keep unpleasant odors at bay and prevent buildup, make these tips part of your regular disposal maintenance routine:

  • Run hot water for 60 seconds before and after using the disposal to rinse away debris.

  • Grind citrus rinds to help deodorize – lemon, lime, and orange peels work great.

  • Use ice cubes to scour the walls and break up grease.

  • Clean with baking soda once a week to inhibit bacteria growth.

  • Unclog drains by pouring 1⁄2 cup baking soda and 1⁄2 cup vinegar down the drain monthly.

  • Inspect for jams. If your disposal starts making loud noises, it may be jammed. Unplug and use tongs to remove the obstruction.

  • Replace worn blades to improve grinding. Blades should be replaced every 2-5 years.

With consistent care and cleaning, your garbage disposal can provide years of stench-free performance. Following these natural solutions will keep odors at bay.

When to Call a Professional

While regular maintenance keeps most disposals running smoothly, sometimes professional service is needed. Call a plumber if:

  • You experience frequent jams or clogs
  • The motor hums but the disposal doesn’t grind
  • Leaks develop from the unit
  • You notice a burning smell

A technician can inspect the blades, seals, and motor for issues. If repairs are needed, replacement parts can be installed to get your disposal working properly again.

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