Recently, someone in my family (not going to name names or say that it was my son who recently got into cooking) thought it was appropriate to put eggshells down the garbage disposal. And of course, no one knew until eventually, a strong stench lingered in the kitchen. While seemingly harmless, there are simply some items that shouldn’t be put down the garbage disposal. Not only because their material makes it difficult to get crushed up by the disposal, but because they have a tendency to get stuck in the area, clogging up your drain or breaking down the garbage disposal until you’re in need of repairs or a new disposal altogether. So, here is how to clean a smelly garbage disposal and tips on how to properly use your garbage disposal — to avoid the issue again in the future.

How To Clean A Smelly Garbage Disposal

FIRST and foremost, get rid of anything physical you can see. If the smell is strong, these might not be at the root of the issue but it’s important to clear the space as much as you can before getting into the nitty-gritty. Even if there’s nothing visibly ‘gross’, clean up your entire sink to ensure you’re covering all your bases.

The next step in how you can clean a smell garbage disposal is simply running the garbage disposal. Make sure your garbage disposal has the chance to do its job before looking into our other DIY options. You want to run the faucet while running the garbage disposal, so you and ensure that everything is properly disposed of where it needs to be. Along with water we recommend a few items be flushed alongside the water (or first before running the water). When looking to clean a smelly garbage disposal, these are the type of things you want to put down your garbage disposal.

  • Ice cubes and rock salt: The ice cubes are ideal for clearing stuff off your grinder. This is ideal if you have food particles stuck against the grinder or walls of the garbage disposal. The rock salts offer the same benefit of removing food particles but to a much smaller level, scrubbing away all facets of the garbage disposal. Additionally, it provides the benefit of removing anything slimy that your food might have left behind. We recommend ice cubes first and then rock salts.
  • Boiling Salt Water: It is not enough to get rid of the smell (which we will, of course, get more info soon), you need to make sure that the seemingly hidden stuff (grease, oil, and other mystery ‘leftovers’) are gone so you can make sure no surprise smells come back soon. You should add a cup of salt for every two cups of water and pour the boiling content down the drain. Similar to the ice cubes and rock salts, this should help scrub away everything stuck to the blades or walls of the garbage disposal. As you pour, make sure to turn on the disposal to dislodge any particles that might get stuck. To ensure everything is properly disposed of, run the disposal for 2-3 seconds longer than you typically might.

How To Get The Smell Out of The Garbage Disposal

Now that your garbage disposal is clean, you are ready to take steps to remove the smells. By now, the root of the issue should have dissipated, but the smell might still linger. Here are tips on cleaning out the smell.

  • Baking Soda and Vinegar: The reaction between the two within the garbage disposal should help remove strong odors stuck in your home. Alternatively, you can freeze vinegar into ice cubes to pour into the garbage disposal. You should run the disposals for a quick second to crush the ice a little. Next, pour room-temperature water down until the ice dissolves.
  • Lemons: Chop up a few slices of lemons (skin, innards, and all) and drop them in the disposal and let your disposal do what it’s literally meant to do. If lemons are not available, anything citrus will help clean a smelly garbage disposal.
  • Soapy Water: Once you completed the above steps, you will want to plug up your sink and fill it with a few inches of water. Depending on the strength of your soap, you will want to leverage the amount you use in your water. Once the smell is pretty strong, you are ready to pour the contents down the disposals while the blades are running.

What Can You Put Down A Garbage Disposal

Now that you solved the issue with a smelly garbage disposal, you will want to consider what steps you can take in the future to prevent the stench from reappearing for a long time.

Here’s a list of things you should avoid altogether:

  • Eggshells
  • Bones
  • Celery
  • All Types Of Shells
  • Coffee Grounds
  • Eggshells
  • Oatmeal
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Eggshells
  • Onion Skin
  • Trash
  • Banana Peels
  • Fruit Pits
  • Grease
  • Eggshells
  • Corn Husks
  • Oil
  • Starchy Products (potatoes and pasta)
  • Have We Mentioned Eggshells?

Additionally, avoid dumping large products down the garbage disposal. Either chop the items before pouring them in or go for the trash. You will want to run the faucet while using the disposal to make sure nothing gets trapped in the process. A good tip to follow is that after it sounds like the trash disposal has done its job and cleared the food chunks, let the water and trash disposal run for 4-5 more seconds afterward to really clear out the peskiest of items. After all, those are the ones at the root of future issues. Finally, making running the trash disposal a weekly ritual. Even if there seem to be no major issues getting in the way week by week, it’s always best to catch issues as they start rather than when they attack.