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How to Get Rid of Nasty Garbage Disposal Odors

How to Get Rid of Nasty Garbage Disposal Odors

If your kitchen is beginning to smell like the local landfill but you just can’t figure out why, it could be the garbage disposal. An often overlooked source of unpleasant kitchen odors, the garbage disposal can collect food and waste that rot and cause nasty smells. The following tips can help you clean out the garbage disposal and eliminate garbage disposal odor.

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The Basic Approach: Soap and Water

Once a month or so, plug the sink with the stopper and fill the basin with hot water and about 1/8 cup of grease-cutting dish soap. Take out the stopper when the sink is full and run the garbage disposal as the water and soap drain. This should not only remove trapped waste but will also help clean out the pipes for a fresher smelling sink.

The Commercial Approach: Disposal Deodorizer

There are several different garbage disposal deodorizers on the market. You’ll find these chemicals > usually in liquid, gel, or dissolvable tablet form > at most supermarkets and home improvement stores. They can be costly, but if used regularly as directed they can help clean out the garbage disposal and prevent odor build-up.

Tips and Insights: What Types of Food Cannot Go In a Garbage Disposal?

The Natural Approach: Vinegar and Citrus

Vinegar is a powerful and effective cleaning agent that’s been used around the house for decades. It’s a great deodorizer despite its pungent odor and also has some antibacterial properties. There are two ways to use vinegar to remove odors from your garbage disposal:

  • Vinegar and Ice: Fill an ordinary ice tray with a 50/50 mixture of water and plain white vinegar (use more vinegar if your drain is particularly smelly). When the cubes freeze, run cold water into the sink and run the ice through the garbage disposal. The vinegar will eliminate bad smells and the ice will help sharpen the garbage disposal blades. Use this method two or three times a month and be sure to clearly label the ice tray so no one accidentally uses a vinegar cube in their drink.
  • Vinegar and Baking Soda: Cover the inside of the drain with baking soda and pour in a half cup of white vinegar. Let the mixture sit for at least an hour. When time’s up, run cold water down the drain as you run the garbage disposal. Once the vinegar smell is gone, the nasty smells should disappear, too.

Another natural way to freshen your garbage disposal is with citrus fruit. Orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit > choose the scent you prefer, drop the peels into the drain, and run the disposal. Citrus juice or pieces of the fruit would work, too. Just be sure to cut the fruit or peels into small pieces so they don’t damage the garbage disposal blades.

How to Get Rid of Nasty Garbage Disposal Odors

The Classic Approach: Bleach

Household bleach is another great all-around garbage disposal cleaning agent. Simply plug the sink and fill the basin with a mixture of water and a little bit of bleach. Slosh everything around with a plastic spoon or your hand (wear rubber gloves!). Let the mixture sit for about half an hour, and then unplug the drain. The bleach will clean and deodorize the garbage disposal, eliminating any bad smells.


NEVER put your hand or fingers down the garbage disposal unit. Even if the switch is off, it could easily flip on and your hand or fingers could be sliced or mashed. If you have food or other items stuck down in the garbage disposal, try to remove with prongs or pliers. If you cannot remove the items, call the plumbing and drain pros at Horizon Services; we’ll quickly and safely remove the object.


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