Posted on: May 24, 2008 Posted by: Nicole Harding Comments: 5

Almost any kitchen today has a garbage disposal unit or “garburator”. A simple, electrically-powered device, this is often seen under kitchen sinks, between the drain and the trap. A garbage disposal unit works by shredding food waste into tiny pieces, allowing them to pass through the plumbing without any difficulty.

Garbage disposal units eliminate garbage, but what if it’s the one that’s actually causing the problem? Sometimes, these mechanisms emit an unpleasant odor that can spread throughout the kitchen. The smell comes from old food that gets trapped on the splash guard or in the crevices, allowing odor-causing bacteria to form.

No matter how clean your kitchen is, it becomes unpleasant and unbearable if your garbage disposal unit stinks. Don’t worry, though, because there are ways how you can rid your kitchen of the annoying garbage disposal odor.

The Most Basic Tactic: Use Running Water

The most basic solution is the one most neglected by many people. The odor problem caused by garbage disposal units, stems from food residue that hasn’t been washed down properly. To solve this dilemma, always keep the water running, so the tiny bits of garbage will still go down properly. Even after the disposal has finished it’s job and turned off, allow the water to run for at least 30 seconds more. Continue doing this, and you’ll soon realize the smell is nothing but a thing of the past.

Here’s another running water tactic you can try: every month, fill the sink’s disposer with hot water, along with 1/8 cup of grease-cutting dishwashing liquid. When the sink is full, release the stopper, and turn the disposal on while allowing the hot water to continue running. This method will clean away the grime and grease, as well as clean the pipes out.

Clean Your Garbage Disposal Unit

The main reason why you have a smelly disposal unit is you fail to maintain it properly. Just because it eliminates garbage doesn’t mean it doesn’t need cleaning. In fact, that purpose makes cleaning this device more important. It’s pretty easy to clean a garbage disposal unit, as long as you know the proper tactics.



  1. Check the black rubber cover that you see fitted in the disposal. Usually, garbage bits form under this flap, creating the smell.
  2. If necessary, clean out this rubber cover. Most garbage disposal unit have those that can be lifted out. Take the cover out and use warm, soapy water and scrub brush to clean it.
  3. In some designs, the flap is installed permanently. To clean it, lift up each flap, and use the old toothbrush and soapy water.

A few tips to keep in mind:

  • Make sure the circuit breaker or the unit’s switch is turned off before you start working on the garbage disposal unit.
  • Don’t clear debris from the garbage disposal using a chemical drain cleaner. This might cause the gaskets and other parts to be damaged.
  • Prevent jams from happening by covering the disposal’s opening with a rubber strainer, especially when not being used.

Once you’ve finished cleaning, it’s now time to deodorize the whole unit. You can do this using the tips below.

Work With Deodorizers

If you want to use a commercial product for your garbage disposal, you can buy a deodorizing agent or deodorizer. These chemicals are specifically made to target various cleaning and deodorizing problems. Popular examples include Nature’s Miracle, Proclean, Bane-Clean and Renuzit. Use them according to the directions specified on their packaging.

The only drawback of these products is they can be pricey. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money for deodorizing your disposal, then opt for cheaper, around-the-house remedies instead.

Use Vinegar

Vinegar’s deodorizing property for various housecleaning tasks is well-known among many people. It can eliminate bacteria well, and remove unpleasant odor. Vinegar is also a safe product, so you won’t have any problems using it. Here are two ways how you can use vinegar to clean and deodorize your garbage disposal.

  • Vinegar And Baking Soda
    Get some baking soda and sprinkle it in your garbage disposal, enough for the inside of the drain to be covered. Pour half a cup of vinegar into the disposal, but don’t let the disposal run yet. Let it sit for an hour. Afterwards, let cold water run down the drain, while running the disposal. When the vinegar smell disappears, the foul odor will be gone too.
  • Vinegar And Ice
    Ice and vinegar may seem like an odd combo, but they work wonders in eliminating garbage disposal smell. Get an ice tray, fill it up with water and white vinegar, and allow it to freeze. While running cold water down the unit, put down the ice there as well. While the vinegar deodorizes the garbage disposal, the ice sharpens its blades. Make it a habit to make vinegar ice every other week, so your unit stays fresh and clean all the time. Label the tray, though, so no one will accidentally use the ice.

Citrus Peel For A Citrus-y Scent

If you’ve just finished cleaning your garbage disposal unit, but you realize there’s still a lingering smell left in it, this is one tactic you can turn to. Citrus peel lets you save money that you should have spent on expensive deodorizer chemicals. Just toss a few orange, lime or lemon peels into the unit, to give it a fresh citrus aroma. Try to do this every two weeks, along with proper cleaning. Your unit will never develop a bad odor.

Another effective method is to use borax with citrus. Get your choice of citrus, and slice half of it into small pieces. Let the water run while dropping the pieces one at a time. This should take at least 40 to 60 seconds. When you’ve sent all the pieces down, disinfect the area by using ¼ cup of Borax to flush it down. Do this method every other week.

Bleach Detergent Works

This is another all-around cleaning material that can be useful for your garbage disposal dilemma. Bleach works well for removing stains, but it’s also great as a cleaning and deodorizing agent. First, plug your drain, and fill the tub with water, along with a small amount of bleach. Get your rubber gloves, and start mixing the water and bleach around. Pull the stopper out of your drain afterwards. The disposal will be flushed out, along with the nasty odors.

A nasty smell coming from your garbage disposal is always a no-no. It gives your kitchen an unkempt feeling. When you get a whiff of these nasty smells, try the tactics above. You’ll make your disposal unit more efficient and bring back your kitchen’s sweet and homey atmosphere. If you liked this article, you’ll surely like how to clean your house the green way.

5 People reacted on this

  1. For my Garbage Disposal I have been using a product called “Spring Again” that I found at WalMart (I’ve also spotted it in Target as well). It’s about $3 for a bottle that contains 12 uses. It works amazingly well and it only takes about 20 seconds to apply. Give it a shot.

  2. A friend of mine suggested “POOR BOBS KITCHEN SOAP” so Iwent to Odortech and ordered some and it worked like a charm. It also removes “SOUR SPONGE smell from my sink sponge. To my delight it also removes onion ,garlis,fish and seafood odors from hands and surfaces

  3. The absolutely simplest and best solution to the unpleasent smells in your garbage disposal is to fill it with ice cubes, and turn it on. It will throw the cubes around inside, grinding until the ground up cubes stick to the sides of the unit. Then turn it back on while adding cold running water from the tap. Keep the unit running until clear of ice. It should purr like a kitten (unless some hard foreign object is inside). Ice also works extremely well to remove broken glass fragments that have stopped the disposal from spinning. First make sure the switch is set to off. Clear out any visible glass fragments, which can be very hard to see – vacuuming it out will help. Then using the hand crank, turn the motor until it breaks free, and will spin with a crunching sound. then, vacuum it once more. Next, push the reset button, unless the disposal was still humming when you turned it off. Otherwise, it has likely tripped the built-in reset curcuit-breaker that protects the motor, when the unit is jambed. (The reset button is usually a red button on the bottom of the unit.) Add ice as above, and turn the disposal on with the cold water already running slowly. Again the result should be a purring sound, and no vibrations present.

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