How to Clean a Smelly Garbage Disposal

A smelly garbage disposal can quickly become a source of frustration and embarrassment in your kitchen. The combination of food scraps, grease, and residue that accumulates over time can lead to unpleasant odors emanating from this essential appliance. However, fear not! With a few simple steps and some readily available household items, you can banish those foul smells and keep your garbage disposal smelling fresh. In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of cleaning a smelly garbage disposal effectively.

Gather Your Supplies

Before you begin, make sure you have the following supplies on hand:

  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Ice cubes
  • Lemon or orange peels (optional)
  • A scrub brush or an old toothbrush
  • A small bowl
  • Boiling water

Turn Off the Garbage Disposal

For safety reasons, start by turning off the garbage disposal. Locate the switch or circuit breaker that controls power to the disposal unit and make sure it’s switched off. This step is crucial to prevent any accidents while cleaning.

Remove Visible Debris

Use tongs or a fork to remove any visible food debris or foreign objects that may be stuck in the disposal. Never put your hand down the disposal to avoid injury.

Sprinkle Baking Soda

Next, sprinkle about 1/2 cup of baking soda into the garbage disposal. Baking soda is an excellent odor-neutralizer and will help break down and remove any stuck-on residue.

Pour Vinegar

Pour about a cup of white vinegar into the disposal on top of the baking soda. The vinegar and baking soda will react, creating a foaming action that helps break down grime and eliminate odors.

Let It Sit

Allow the mixture of baking soda and vinegar to sit in the disposal for at least 10-15 minutes. During this time, you can prepare some ice cubes if you haven’t already.

Ice Cube Treatment

Drop a handful of ice cubes into the disposal. The ice cubes help clean the grinding components of the disposal by dislodging any buildup. Turn the disposal on and run cold water while the ice cubes are being ground up. This will also help sharpen the blades.

Citrus Freshness (Optional)

For a refreshing citrus scent, you can add some lemon or orange peels to the disposal. Run the disposal again to grind them up. This not only adds a pleasant fragrance but also helps clean and sanitize the unit.

Scrub the Rubber Flaps

Using a scrub brush or an old toothbrush, gently clean the rubber flaps or baffle at the opening of the disposal. This area can accumulate residue and contribute to foul odors.

Rinse with Boiling Water

To flush away any remaining residue and odors, carefully pour a kettle of boiling water down the disposal. Be cautious when handling boiling water.

Turn the Power Back On

Once you’ve completed all the steps and are satisfied with the cleanliness and freshness of your garbage disposal, turn the power back on to the unit.


A smelly garbage disposal doesn’t have to be a constant nuisance in your kitchen. With a little effort and the right cleaning routine, you can keep it smelling fresh and operating efficiently. Regularly performing these cleaning steps, ideally once a month, will help prevent odors from returning and extend the life of your garbage disposal. A clean and odor-free disposal is not only more pleasant but also more hygienic, ensuring a healthier kitchen environment for you and your family.

First Choice Appliance, Sandpoint

Smelly Garbage Disposal fix, First Choice Appliance