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Get Rid of the Smell and Deodorize Your Garbage Disposal

It happens in every kitchen, sooner or later – one morning you walk in for a much-needed cup of coffee and instead encounter a disgusting mystery odor coming from your garbage disposal.

cut_up_some_citrusIt’s understandable, considering all of the food waste we throw down there on a daily basis, but fear not – deodorizing a disposal is simple! Here are five easy ways to get rid of the funk.

1) The Simplest Solution

The first thing to try is a simple hot water flush. Plug up the disposal with a rubber stopper, then fill the sink with hot water and a couple of drops of dish detergent.

Then, use rubber gloves or kitchen tongs to pull up the rubber stopper carefully (don’t burn yourself!).

The rush of hot water will hopefully remove any bits of smelly food stuck to the sides of the disposal. For better results, you can repeat this method a few times in a row, as well as daily to keep the stinky smells at bay.

2) Use Natural Remedies

Many things around your home can be cleaned with simple baking soda and vinegar, and the garbage disposal is no exception! Simply pour a cup of vinegar down a running disposal with cool water, or sprinkle in half a cup of baking soda. Either one will work well on by itself, but for the toughest jobs, you can combine them for extra cleaning power.

Take one cup of vinegar, and half a cup of baking soda, as before, but don’t mix them yet! Sprinkle in the baking soda first, then pour the vinegar on top. They will react to form a natural foaming cleanser and deodorizer. Leave it to set for about five minutes, then finish with a hot water run of the disposal.

3) The Ice Method

Toss some ice cubes down the disposal – anywhere from a handful to a whole tray will work – and pour in a little of your favorite cleaning solution. Turn on the cold water faucet, and run the disposal. As the ice gets crushed up, it will scrape away all of the old food particles, giving the disposal a good deep cleaning.

avoid-a-garbage-disposal-leakThis can be done once a week for ongoing maintenance, more than that will eventually dull the blades. You can also substitute kosher salt for the cleaning solution if you prefer a more natural method, as the salt will provide abrasive scrubbing as well as kill any smell-causing bacteria.

4) The Power of Citrus

There’s a reason many cleaners are fragranced with citrus oil – it smells fresh and clean! An easy way to deodorize your garbage disposal is to peel any citrus fruit – lemons, limes, oranges, even grapefruits – and throw the peels into the disposal (eating the fruit is optional). Remember to only add the peels, being especially careful to remove any pits, seeds or cores as they will harm the disposal.

Run cold water as you turn on the disposal, and in just a few seconds a lovely citrus scent will replace the bad odor. You can do this anytime you think about it to keep the disposal smelling fresh and clean.

5) Prevention is the Cure

Ideally, it would be best to avoid a smelly garbage disposal altogether. Fortunately, there are some simple things that can be done in just a few minutes every day to prevent bad odors, such as:

  • Always use cold water when running the garbage disposal. Though hot water is great when trying to clean it, cold water will help prevent buildup from melted grease and oils.
  • If you are cooking with eggs or citrus, save the eggshells and fruit peels to run down last. The eggshells will act as an abrasive, scrubbing the grime off the sides of the disposal, while the peels will deodorize and freshen.
  • Always run the disposal an additional 20-30 seconds after you hear that all of the food particles have been pulverized. This allows sufficient water to run through the disposal, effectively rinsing it clean for less chance of lingering odor.
  • Remember to occasionally clean under the rubber seal of the garbage disposal, as gunk will build up there as well. Any easy way is to put a few drops of dish soap or cleaning solution on a handled scrub brush and maneuver it under and through the flaps. In some of the newer disposal models, this is removable, making it even easier to clean once or twice a week.

garbage-disposalAdditionally, there are certain things that you should avoid putting down the garbage disposal, such as:

  • Grease/Oils: while most liquids will go down the drain just fine, avoid pouring any cooking oils or grease down, as they can solidify inside the disposal and create clogs.
  • Coffee grounds: you would think coffee grounds might be a perfect candidate to run through the disposal, but they can get caught in the drain trap and eventually cause problems.
  • Rice and Pasta: these items have the ability to expand in water, thus potentially causing a messy blockage.
  • Bones, seeds, fruit cores, and pits: for the most part, these are too hard for your garbage disposal to handle and may break the blades.
  • Vegetables with fibers, such as celery and artichokes: the fibers in these types of foods can wrap around the edges and damage the garbage disposal.
  • Non-foods items: this might be obvious, but often a bottle cap or straw or even a piece of silverware can slip down the disposal drain accidentally. Before turning the unit on, always check to make sure nothing is down there that shouldn’t be!

If you follow these tips, your garbage disposal should last you many years smelling fresh and clean. However, if you do have a problem with your garbage disposal, do not hesitate to call in a professional.

We here at PHD Mechanical Inc are a reputable repair service in Wayne, NJ with 26 years of experience. Contact us for a consultation today at (973) 492-5931. We would be happy to help!

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