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How to Clean a Garbage Disposal: Ultimate Cleaning Guide

October 16, 2023

Garbage disposals may be convenient but they can quickly turn into a collection spot for grime. Not only is it unhygienic but it can also cause unpleasant odors in the kitchen.

Fortunately, there are several ways to clean the appliance – from DIY options to commercial products.

What should you use? How do you properly clean a garbage disposal? For the answers, be sure to keep scrolling. We’ll be going over everything that you need to know in our “how to clean garbage disposal” guide below!

The Role and Function of a Garbage Disposal

the role of a garbage disposal

A garbage disposal unit is designed to break down food waste into tiny particles so that they can be flushed away. This eliminates potential problems associated with throwing away certain types of foods, where they can attract pests or create unpleasant smells.

Having a garbage disposal isn’t without its challenges though. For one thing, they’re not meant for all types of foods. For example, you should never throw fibrous vegetables, bones, grease or oil into the unit as they can cause issues such as clogs or jams.

Importance of Regular Cleaning

Why is it important to clean a garbage disposal? The answer is simple – it’ll keep it from smelling and boost its efficiency and longevity.

Because let’s face it – food particles can and will get stuck in the splash guard and grinding chamber. That’s why it’s so important to clean it regularly – it’ll keep your garbage disposal smelling fresh and running smothly.

Neglecting Garbage Disposal Cleaning – Potential Consequences

Leftover residue or food debris in the grinding chamber isn’t just unsightly; it also poses serious health risks. Remember, contaminants love dark, damp spaces.

That’s not all, food residue in the garbage disposal can also slow it down over time and affect its performance.

The Value of Deep Cleaning

A deep clean goes beyond using a scrub brush or old toothbrush and pouring white vinegar down the drain. For one thing, you’ll want manually remove small pieces that are trapped under the splash guard.

It’s also a good idea to clean teh unit with dish soap and cold water. More specifically, you want to run the soapy water for a while before flushing with cold water.

Garbage Disposal Cleaning: DIY Methods

You can clean your garbage disposal with various household products, which we’ll be going over below.

diy methods to clean garbage disposal

Using Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits such as lemons are acidic and can be used to clean a garbage disposal – including the splash guard. Just cut the fruit into small pieces and drop them down the drain. For example, you can use lemon peels. Alternatively, you can pour lemon juice down the drain.

The citric acid from these fruits will help break down the bits of food that are stuck inside the disposal unit. Not only that but they’ll also leave behind a fruity scent that beats any air freshener.

Baking Soda and Vinegar Method

Pour one cup of baking soda followed by one cup of vinegar into the garbage disposal. Once they’re in, turn on the faucet and run hot water for at least 15 minutes. You can also use boiling water.

This method is basically chemistry at work in your kitchen sink. The baking soda and vinegar will create a bubbling action that will scrub the hard-to-reach areas inside the unit such as the grinding chamber.

Not only that but it’ll also clean the garbage disposal splash guard.

Ice Cubes and Rock Salt Method

Believe it or not but you can also clean your garbage disposal with ice cubes or ice chips and rock salt. Just pour the ice and salt down the sink and run warm water. If anything, it’s quite effective at removing build-up grime.

The abrasive texture of all the ice and rock salt will help remove any leftover food particles that are stuck on the blades.

Cleaning Your Garbage Disposal with ACTIVE Disposal Cleaner

DIY methods may be effective but they may not be enough if your disposal is excessively dirty or clogged. In cases like that, you’ll want to use a dedicated disposal cleaning product like ACTIVE Disposal Cleaner.

Choosing the Right Disposal Cleaner

Active Disposal Tablets 1Garbage disposal cleaning products are more effective in that they’re specifically designed to tackle built-up grime, food debris, and other gunk.

Some commercial disposal cleaners have drawbacks like containing harsh chemicals, which may damage your disposal over time. Not only that but depending on what you get, they may also be more expensive compared to home remedies (e.g. the white vinegar method).

However ACTIVE Disposal Cleaner is made from safe ingredients that will not damage your appliance from long-term use. Our product is also affordable with a year supply of 24 tablets in a single package.

Why ACTIVE Garbage Disposal Cleaner is the Best Solution

ACTIVE Garbage Disposal Cleaner is the ideal product for several reasons. For starters, the tablets are specifically formulated to eliminate odors. In addition to that, they’re capable of breaking down any food particles stuck in the grinding chamber. That way, it’ll save you some elbow grease.

Not only will the cleaner keep your disposal smelling fresh, but it’ll also maintain the machine by reducing unusual noises caused by stubborn residue buildup inside the disposal unit.

How to Clean Garbage Disposal the Right Way

Before beginning to clean your garbage disposal, be sure the power source and or circuit breaker is turned off.

Cleaning the Rubber Splash Guard

To deep clean the rubber splash guard, you want to use dish soap with warm or hot water. While wearing rubber gloves, carefully reach under the part to remove leftover gunk that can lead to bad odors.

Rinse thoroughly by running water afterward.

Eliminating Odors

We mentioned this earlier but citrus fruits such as lemons are excellent for odor removal.

Simply grind small pieces of lemon and toss the citrus peels in the drain opening or sink drain.

If lemons or other citrus fruits aren’t available or if you’re looking for more methods, you can try the baking soda and vinegar combo. Pour half a cup of baking soda followed by half a cup of vinegar into the drain. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes before flushing with hot water.

How to Keep Your Garbage Disposal Smelling Fresh

There are several things that you can do to prevent your garbage disposal unit from running into issues.

Properly Dispose of Your Food Scraps

dispose your food scraps properly

Not all food deposits should go down the drain. Hard or fibrous foods, for example, can cause clogs and blockages.

Pasta and rice are two other examples – they swell when they come into contact with water, and can potentially cause backups. Other food scraps that are better off in the compost bin include: coffee grounds, eggshells, potato peels, corn husks, and banana peels.

Maintaining Regular Cleaning Routines

A dirty disposal is often a smelly one. Cleaning your garbage disposal regularly will help keep odors at bay while ensuring smooth operation of your disposal unit.

How to Clean a Garbage Disposal – FAQs

How do I get rid of buildup in my garbage disposal?

using active garbage disposal cleanerYou can try using a mix of baking soda and vinegar. This combo will fizzle away grime without damaging your disposal. Other DIY methods include using ice cubes and rock salt.

For excessively dirty disposal units, however, we recommend using professional drain cleaners such as ACTIVE Garbage Disposal Cleaner tablets.

Does a smelly garbage disposal need to be cleaned out?

Yes. Regular cleaning will prevent residue from developing and that will help minimize unpleasant odors.

Can you clean the garbage disposal with bleach?

Bleach and other harsh chemicals are generally not recommended as they can damage the pipes and blades.

And there you have it – a guide on how to clean a garbage disposal. As you can see, there are several ways that you can go about it, from using household items to commercial products such as ACTIVE Garbage Disposal Cleaner tablets.

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Picture of Ethan Clarke

Ethan Clarke

Ethan Clarke is a seasoned expert in appliances and household waste systems. Referencing his extensive experience as an appliance repairman, Ethan shares his invaluable knowledge through detailed maintenance & troubleshooting manuals. Ethan’s insights help homeowners understand and maintain their appliances efficiently, ensuring longevity and optimal performance. He’s here to provide practical, easy-to-follow advice for all your appliance needs.

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