How to Get Rid of Garbage Disposal Smells

Garbage disposal smell

We’ve all experienced it — after a while, the garbage disposal smells bad. Sometimes it sneaks up over a few days, and other times it hits us like a ton of bricks when we get home from a week-long vacation.

So, why does this happen? Learn about the culprits behind most trash compactor odors and how to make your garbage disposal smell better with this quick guide from Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Oneida.

Garbage disposal smell

Why Does My Garbage Disposal Smell?

Trash compactors are excellent tools for breaking up food waste so it can be disposed of through the drain. Over time, this process can cause an unpleasant smell to develop and linger in your kitchen. This odor is usually the result of decaying bits of food that have escaped the grinding process and gotten stuck in the appliance.

While these machines are very efficient at breaking down food waste, food particles are still often left behind when they get stuck to the machine's blades or inner piping. These particles caught in or around the appliance will begin to rot rapidly, creating an unpleasant smell. Some foods may be more likely to stick or develop a strong odor over time than others.

When leftover food particles accumulate, it may even cause a partial or complete clog. Clogs prevent proper draining, making the odor seem even stronger by allowing mold or mildew to grow and start creating smells of their own.

How to Get Rid of Garbage Disposal Smells

Even if you're not being forced to deal with a clog just yet, you need to know how to get rid of garbage disposal smells. Try one of these five methods to deal with a smelly garbage disposal.

1. Vinegar and Baking Soda

Wondering how to make your garbage disposal smell better? There are several items you can use that you likely already have on hand — such as vinegar and baking soda. Try pouring a cup of dry baking soda down the running disposal. Then, flush out the baking soda by pouring a cup of distilled vinegar down the drain. This should go a long way toward cleaning up your smelly garbage disposal.

2. Ice

Ice is good for two things. First, it helps to clean that nasty smell. And second, it sharpens your garbage disposal's blades. Try this one first, as you probably have plenty of ice to use. Fill your disposal with cubes and then let it rip until all the ice — and hopefully the smell, too — is gone.

3. Citrus

An old standby of garbage disposal cleaning is citrus fruit. Lemons are a popular choice. Simply cut a lemon, lime or orange into small pieces and pitch them into a running garbage disposal. The fruit itself helps to wash away the bad scent, and the resulting citrus juice helps to replace it with a much more pleasant smell.

4. Bleach

You can use bleach if it’s a mild product and the water is running. Try pouring just a little bit of bleach down the disposal as cold water runs, and you’ll find it erases the scent. The bleach also goes to work on dislodging any food particles that may be stuck in your pipes.

5. Specialty Products

If your garbage disposal still smells bad, you can often find specialty garbage disposal cleaning products at the grocery store. These products are designed for garbage disposal, and they all incorporate different ingredients to attack smells and get your disposal back into fighting shape again.

Some scents are tougher than others, and sometimes you can get stumped by a particularly nasty smell. If you need professional help in cleaning out your disposal and ridding it of odors, call on the pros at Mr. Rooter Plumbing. We know garbage disposals inside and out and can quickly identify the issues you're experiencing — and then deliver the solution.

How Often Should You Deodorize Your Garbage Disposal?

If you use your garbage disposal often, it is a good idea to clean it about once a week or every two weeks. Once a month would work too, but that might be pushing it. Choose a period of time that reflects how often you use your disposal and add it to your cleaning schedule. 

The goal is consistency. If you consistently clean your disposal once a week, once every two weeks or even once a month, you can avoid being surprised one day by the terrible smell that can emanate from it. Frequent cleaning prevents the buildup that creates a bad smell. 

It also makes your kitchen smell good. For many people, the smell of citrus in the sink creates a sense of welcome, calm and the feeling of a job well done. 

Why Does My Garbage Disposal Smell Even After Cleaning?

You may need to try multiple ways of cleaning your garbage disposal to completely clear out the smell. The stink comes from old food that gets stuck in nooks and crannies in your disposal. Sometimes, the first cleaning method you try will not dislodge everything that is causing the smell. 

Another reason your disposal smells after cleaning could be because you have poured grease or fat down the drain. While they are hot, these foods will pour away just fine. However, once they cool, they harden and can coat the pipes leading out of your sink. You might need to try a cleaning method multiple times to wash all of this away.

How to Prevent a Smelly Garbage Disposal

While eliminating funky odors from your garbage disposal is straightforward, the best remedy is prevention. You can take a few simple measures to keep your appliance fresh and ensure it operates as it should.

Using your unit only for its intended purpose goes a long way toward preventing odor from developing. Follow the guidelines below to help maintain your garbage disposal's condition and cleanliness:

Grind only organic materials: Garbage disposals should only be used to dispose of organic food waste. Avoid grinding any manufactured materials to keep your appliance in peak condition.

Avoid grinding fibrous vegetables or starchy foods: Certain foods, such as celery, potatoes, or coffee grinds, should not go through your unit. These substances are more likely to clog your appliance.

Keep the disposal running for at least 30 seconds at a time: Let the compactor run for at least 30 seconds every time you use it to ensure you thoroughly break down the food, making it less likely that any particles will be left behind.

Grind eggshells and small fruit pits on occasion: These items pass through a trash compactor safely and can help clean any lingering debris off the blades.

How to Get Rid of Garbage Disposal Smells

Contact Mr. Rooter Plumbing for Garbage Disposal Repair

Like all household appliances, garbage disposals occasionally need maintenance and repair. Reach out to Mr. Rooter Plumbing for garbage disposal maintenance and repair services. Request an estimate today.