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Why Your Garbage Disposal Smells

Plus, Tips to Help Your Garbage Disposal Stay Fresh

Once you’ve experienced a nasty odor emitting from your sink, you’ll never want to go through it again. Depending on what the source is, it can smell like something died inside your pipes. But don’t let a stinky sink prevent you from using the convenience that garbage disposals bring. One of the best parts about having them is easy cleanup in the kitchen. And it’s nice not having to let things sit in a garbage can to fester or get picked through by pests.

But it only makes sense that something used so often for scraps of trash will eventually build up some non-enticing scents.

Fortunately, there are several options you can try at home to safely clean.

Keep your disposal fresh with:

Baking Soda & Vinegar

Bring back your old-school science experiments by sprinkling half a cup of baking soda into the disposal and pouring in vinegar to create a fizzy volcanic eruption that deodorizes and cleans. Let the solution sit for at least a few minutes before running hot water.


Sprinkling a few tablespoons, up to half a cup, of Borax into the disposal, letting it sit for ten to fifteen minutes, and then flushing with hot water will help the sink stay odor-free.

Salt ‘N Ice

Not the iconic Salt ‘N Pepa hip hop group, but it’ll do you a lot better when it comes to your garbage disposal. Simply take two cups of ice, one cup of salt, and dump everything into the disposal. Run cold water and turn on the disposal for several seconds at a time to grind the ice.

Pro tip: Try making vinegar ice cubes instead of plain water.


As you’re gargling before bed, pour a bit of mouthwash down the disposal. Rinse and repeat as necessary. Originally, the germ-killing liquid was useful in sterilizing surgical tools. Now, it kills germs in our mouths and even our garbage disposals. Perhaps a little outside the box, but multiple uses for the win!


The antibacterial oils in citrus fruits work wonders on a stinky sink. Take some peelings from an orange, grapefruit, lemon, or lime and toss them into the disposal for a much fresher scent of your choice.

An Old Toothbrush

Your garbage disposal has splash guards which are flexible enough to lift in sections. Mix some hot, soapy water up, put on some gloves, and start scrubbing the underside of the splash guard with a toothbrush. Be sure to rinse the brush as you clean to avoid spreading bacteria around.

Keep These Items Out of Garbage Disposals – They Cause Stinky Problems

As much as we may wish, not everything should go into a garbage disposal. Some items dull the blades, leave residue to build up over time and cause frustrating clogs. Plus, there are many of the culprits that are responsible for foul smells you experience:


Whether it’s fats, grease, or another substance, oils build up along your pipes. Rather than pouring them down the drain, seal them into a container to throw away.


Clean paint brushes and rollers in buckets of water rather than directly in the sink where paint can dry up and harden onto pipes.

Coffee Grounds

Grounds tend to clump up, which can cause you a massive headache down the line. Use them as fertilizer for your plants instead!

Banana Peels

Any stringy types of fruits and vegetables can wrap around the blades, creating problems for the blades and leaving gunk behind to smell. Think celery, corn husks, asparagus, pumpkin, etc.

Potato Peels

When you have something too thin that you’re trying to grind up and dispose of it can slip past the blades and get caught farther down, trapping items as it goes. Other thin foods can be eggshells and onion skins (each has a very thin membrane that can do the same thing as a potato peel).


Some pasta, like the few scraps left on your plate, can go down fine. But don’t dump leftover servings of pasta down the disposal – pasta expands with water, even if it’s fully cooked. This same concept applies to oats and rice.


Like seafood shells, bones are too hard to grind up. They’ll either spin around and around the disposal blades, get caught in pipes, or break the disposal.


A way that some try to rid unused medication is by grinding them up in the disposal. But this can lead to contaminating a water supply and is, therefore, an unsafe idea.


Unless you’re trying to make sink peanut butter, don’t grind and mash up too many nuts.

Our team is always here to help if you’ve gotten your garbage disposal clogged – dial (310) 889-0506 to let us know when and where we should be.