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  • Writer's pictureJoe Ortiz

The Best (and Worst) Things to Put Down Your Garbage Disposal

Updated: May 29, 2023

Learn the stinky truth about garbage disposals—and how to keep your kitchen smelling fresh and clean.

Kitchen Sink Garbage Disposal

We've all been there. You're standing in your kitchen, minding your own business when suddenly a putrid smell hits you like a ton of bricks. You think to yourself, "What on earth is that smell?" And then it dawns on you: it's coming from your garbage disposal.

If you're a homeowner, chances are you have a garbage disposal. And if you have a garbage disposal, chances are you're no stranger to the occasional (or not-so-occasional) foul odor that can emanate from it. But what causes these smells? And more importantly, how can you get rid of them?

Why does my Garbage Disposal Stink?

The smell is a result of a combination of different factors, including food waste, bacteria, and built-up grease and grime. When these substances mix together, they create an incredibly foul-smelling concoction that can easily take over your entire kitchen—and maybe even your whole house!

How to Keep Your Garbage Disposal Smelling Fresh

Use Citrus Peels:

Citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, and grapefruits have a fresh, clean scent that can help mask any unpleasant smells coming from your garbage disposal. Simply toss a few peels down the drain and let the disposal run for a few seconds to release the fragrance. You can do this every week or as needed.

Pour in Baking Soda and Ice Cubes:

Simply pour a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by a bag of ice cubes. Baking soda is a natural odor absorber and can help eliminate bad smells coming from your garbage disposal. Turn on the garbage disposal and let it run for a few minutes. The baking soda will help to break down any smelly substances, while the ice cubes will sharpen the blades.

Run the Disposal with Vinegar:

Vinegar is another natural odor eliminator and can also help remove any built-up grime or grease in your disposal. Just pour half a cup of vinegar down the drain and let the disposal run for a few seconds. You can do this once a week to keep bad smells at bay.

Clean the Disposal Regularly:

Over time, your garbage disposal can become filled with food waste, bacteria, and built-up grease and grime—all of which contribute to bad odors. To keep it clean and fresh smelling, scrub it with a stiff brush every week or so.

What Not to Put Down the Garbage Disposal

There are a few things you should avoid putting down your garbage disposal to prevent clogs and bad odors, including:

  • Food waste: Avoid putting any food waste down the disposal, including bones, coffee grounds, eggshells, fruit pits, and more. These items can easily get caught in the blades and cause clogs.

  • Grease and oil: Grease and oil can solidify in your pipes and cause clogs. Pour any grease or oil into a container and dispose of it in the trash instead of down the drain.

  • Fibrous foods: Avoid putting fibrous foods like celery, corn husks, onion skins, and more down the disposal. These items can tangle around the blades and cause clogs.

  • Chemical cleaners: Avoid using chemical cleaners like drain cleaners, bleach, and more as they can damage your disposal and pipes. Stick to natural cleaners like baking soda, vinegar, and lemon peels instead.

  • Rice: Rice can easily expand in water and cause clogs. Avoid putting cooked or uncooked rice down the disposal.

When to Call a Plumber for Help

If you're dealing with a particularly stubborn smell, you may need to call Hoffman Plumbing to clean your garbage disposal for you. We have the tools and knowledge necessary to get rid of even the toughest odors.

Nobody wants smelly garbage disposal, by following the tips above, you can help to keep your garbage disposal smelling fresh—and your kitchen smelling clean.


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