5 Ways To Remove Your Garbage Disposal Bad Smell (Explained)

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Garbage disposals do smell. Not because you are not clean enough or you are careless, but because of the rotting of the food remains that takes place after the garbage has drained.

You can control the smell by cleaning the garbage disposal regularly such that there is less bacterial activity in the garbage disposal. So, how can you remove garbage disposal’s bad smell?

There are different ways you can use to eliminate the garbage disposals’ foul smell. These include using natural solutions like ice, salt, baking soda, citrus, etc., and chemical alternatives available in the market, which all work effectively to eliminate the bad odor.

Garbage Disposal under the modern sink, waste chopper concept

Think of the last time you weren’t home all weekend, and on coming back, the garbage disposal smelled awful. That’s what happens when you leave the garbage disposal unattended for several days. You’ll need to clean it rigorously in order to get rid of the smell. This article discussed five ways you can remove the bad smell from your garbage disposal.

Why Does Garbage Disposal Smell Bad?

Garbage disposals are incredibly useful because of their ability to grind food remains into small particles that easily flow through the drain. This is an effective way of getting rid of the food waste without making the environment stink.

However, with time, the garbage disposal may begin to exude a foul smell all over your kitchen. Worse still, this smell can spread through the house if you have an open kitchen. That’s why you must understand what causes the smell and deal with it.

The garbage disposal works have propeller blades that rotate when the motor is turned on. In this rotation, they slice the food remains into tiny particles which are easily flushed in the drain.

However, some food particles remain held up in the blades and end up rotting there. The rotten food emits a foul smell and makes the garbage disposal stingy.

This could have happened if you used little water to flush the drain because it’s not enough to sweep out all the food particles, especially those that remain stuck on the propeller blades.

Always ensure that you flush your garbage disposal with a lot of water any time you use it.

Water has a strong push on the food remains so that they don’t remain on the garbage disposal and rot.

Another reason your garbage disposal could smell bad is if there is a clog inside. You may notice the clog if the wastewater flows slower than usual or doesn’t flow at all.

The clog could result from insufficient flushing water, foreign materials in the drain system, or any waxy substances like grease in the garbage disposal.

A clog prevents the wastewater from flowing through, and it build-ups in the drain system and produces a foul smell. The only way to go about this is to remove the clog so that the water can flow again smoothly and then clean the drain system with the appropriate products.

There are different ways to unclog the garbage disposal depending on the size of the clog and the damage already caused within the drain system. You can choose to use organic methods that are environmentally friendly or use chemical-based products to unclog it.

Whichever your choice is, you’ll need first to identify where the problem is and then determine the best way to approach and solve it.

Also, if you notice some foul smell that doesn’t go away even after you clean, check for possible leaks along with the drainage system where some of the waste could be leaking and rotting outside the drain. This will save you a lot of headaches trying to clean the drain over and over again.

Once you find the leaking area, you can replace the pipe, and it will be easy to clean the drain.

Ice on brightblue background

5 Ways To Remove Your Garbage Disposal Bad Smell

As mentioned earlier, you can use natural methods and chemical methods to get rid of the foul smell in your garbage disposal.

However, this article explains how you can use natural methods to clean your garbage disposal and get rid of the bad smell.

Chemical methods are not friendly to you, to your environment, and even to the garbage disposal. The products are made of powerful chemicals that react vigorously with the disposal system and end up weakening it.

Some of the ways you can use to clean your garbage disposal and get rid of the smell include:

Use hot water and dishwashing soap

Hot water works perfectly in clearing any bad smell from your drain because of its ability to dislodge food particles and flash down any bacteria build-up. When you combine it with soap, the impact becomes much larger because the soap is a disinfectant.

For an effective hot water wash, you have to mix the hot water with enough soap. Pick up a drain stopper (rubber or steel) and use it to block the sink drain. Pour hot water into the sink and then add some liquid dishwashing soap into it.

Stir the mixture until the soap is properly mixed with the water, and lift the drain stopper to allow the water to flow.

Ensure that the garbage disposal motor is turned on so that the propeller then increases the speed of the hot water in the garbage disposal.

This will make sure that the rotten food debris that had remained in the drain can be removed.

The concept of using hot water and dishwashing soap is culled from the washing of utensils. If you can effectively clean plates with soap and water, then it can clean the garbage disposal drain.

Use baking soda and vinegar.

Baking soda is an all-purpose ingredient in every sense. It is one of the oldest disinfectants as you can use it to clean different things.

The addition of vinegar makes it even more effective because vinegar helps kill bacteria and deodorize the garbage disposal.

To give your garbage disposal a good clean, you’ll need half a cup of vinegar and half a cup of soda. Start with the baking soda and pour it into the drain. Then you can pour the vinegar into the drain and wait for about 15 minutes.

The waiting time will allow the baking soda and the vinegar to work on the dirt in the garbage disposal.

After 15 minutes, turn on the garbage disposal motor and allow it to run as you pour hot water through it. If possible, let the water flow through the garbage disposal for at least 30 seconds. This time is enough to flush out the dislodged dirt and clear any bad smell.

Vinegar is acidic, and so has an intense scouring effect. That’s what makes it so effective. However, vinegar contributes to the weakening of the garbage disposal and could lead to leakages with time. T

herefore, you must be careful not to use vinegar too often so that your disposal can last longer without getting damaged.

Use ice cubes and salt.

Ice cubes are sharp and strong. Therefore when used in the garbage disposal bin, they act as small scrubbing agents in the drain. On the other hand, salt disinfects the drain and helps to clear the bad smell.

First, drop some ice cubes into the garbage disposal; a few handfuls would be enough. Then, add a handful of salt into the drain.

Rock salt works better because of its larger pieces. However, if you don’t have rock salt, table salt can work well too. You can use what you have within your reach.

After adding the salt and the ice cubes, turn on the garbage disposal and leave it to run for a few seconds until no noise comes from the rotating blades.

As the propeller blades rotate, they break down the ice cubes into tiny pieces and throw them against the garbage disposal walls. This continuous movement scrubs out the dirt and removes any clogs that would have formed in the drain.

After the scrubbing is complete, you can then pour water into the drain to help flush out all the remains. This method is effective and works perfectly to remove any bad odor. However, if the smell doesn’t go away, you can try using deodorizers to help get rid of it.

Close up of some oranges in a basket over a wooden surface

Use any citrus fruit.

Citrus fruits like lemon and oranges have a strong fruity scent that works best in replacing the bad odor from the garbage disposal. Who wouldn’t want their kitchen smelling like sweet citrus fruits?

Even though this method has been around for a long time now, it still works effectively and gives a good result.

First, you’ll need to cut the citrus fruit of your choice (lemon is the most preferred) into small pieces and toss them into the garbage disposal. Turn on the disposal and allow it to run while shredding the lemon pieces you tossed in.

The lemon washes away any dirt in the garbage disposal and expels the foul smell. This method is a pleasant one, and you can use it to effectively get rid of any bad smell in the garbage disposal.

Scrub the garbage disposal manually.

In the first four ways discussed in this article, you only need to pour in the cleaning agent and wait for a few minutes, and the cleaning will take place by itself. However, in this method, you will have to do the scrubbing by yourself.

Remove the rubber flap and the rubber stopper around the disposal drain and give them a thorough cleaning.

They are notorious places where dirt accumulates and cause a foul smell. Then, you can use a stiff nylon kitchen brush to scrub the dirt from the walls and the propeller blades of the garbage disposal.

Opening up the drain will also allow you to clean thoroughly around it where some dirt may have settled. It will do your kitchen a lot of good.

Combine different methods of cleaning and use them together

You may have tried one method, but it doesn’t seem to work. The best approach is to use different cleaning methods so that you can increase their effectiveness.

For example, if you have tried using baking soda and vinegar and the smell didn’t go away completely, you can bring in the lemon pieces, which will remove the bad odor and replace it with a sweet citrus smell.

You can also try using hot water and soap after using another method because soap is great at killing the bacteria that cause the bad smell. By combining several cleaning methods, you’ll have your garbage disposal smelling fresh in no time.

All these methods discussed in this section are effective and do a great job in eliminating the bad odor in your garbage disposal. However, with time nasty smell may become more persistent such that the simple smell doesn’t get rid of it anymore.

If you notice that these methods are no longer effective, then it could be time to call a professional to check it or install a new garbage disposal. You may also want to try chemical solutions like bleach to get rid of the smell.

However, you must be very careful with chemical solutions because they are not safe for you and your garbage disposal. The bleach has strong, active ingredients that can burn your skin if it comes into contact with you.

The active chemical ingredients also react vigorously within the garbage disposal, releasing a lot of heat. This heat causes the drain to weaken and break with time.

Can You Permanently Remove Bad Smell From Garbage Disposal?

The foul smell in the garbage disposal builds up over time. That means you can keep it clean all through and avoid bacteria growth that causes the bad smell.

After you thoroughly clean your garbage disposal and get rid of the smell or replace the garbage disposal with a new one, you have to employ some practices that will keep your garbage disposal smelling fresh for longer.

Some of these practices include;

Flush the garbage disposal drain with a lot of water each time you use it.

As you already know, water is a key factor in keeping the garbage disposal fresh because it helps to wash away the waste food and stop it from clogging the drain. Therefore, every time you dispose of your garbage, make sure you follow it with water.

If you’re washing utensils, the soapy water will also help in cleaning the garbage disposal.

You can also pour hot water occasionally into the disposal as a systematic way to clean the garbage disposal.

Conduct routine cleaning procedures for the garbage disposal

You don’t have to wait until the garbage disposal begins to stink before you clean it up. You can conduct routing cleaning after every disposal or after a couple of disposals so that it can always be clean.

You can choose any of the methods discussed in this article for your routine cleaning.

The most common and effective method is using white vinegar and baking soda. You can also use other methods effectively and keep the foul smell at bay.

Waste disposal leak under a sink, broken garbage chopper

Inspect the garbage disposal regularly to ensure that there are no leaks

If there is a leak somewhere along the drain, you may have a stinky kitchen yet don’t know where the problem is.

It can be quite irritating to clean the kitchen sink and the garbage disposal thoroughly and still have a persistent foul smell.

A routine check on the entire drainage system will help you mitigate this problem immediately you find a leak. Fixing the leak will ensure that you have no more nasty smells in your kitchen.

Avoid disposing of materials that can clog the drain

A clogged drain will cause the garbage disposal to smell because of the decomposing stagnant waste.

Different materials can cause clogging in the drain, and you’ll need to know them so that you can avoid them.

They include hard materials like silverware, stones, etc., and some pasty food remains like banana peels and potato peels.

The garbage disposal has propeller blades that break down food remains. If the waste you dispose of in the garbage disposal cannot be broken down, then it clogs and begins to decompose.

Therefore, you must check the nature of the waste you dispose of and remove any that may cause blockage. If the drain doesn’t clog, then there will be lower chances of it smelling.

Check the garbage disposal for any electrical failure

Garbage disposal is electrically powered so that it can easily break down the food particles with its rotating propeller.

However, if it has an electrical fault, it might not rotate, and so the waste clogs the drain and doesn’t flow.

Any electrical fault will require you to bring in a professional familiar with how the brain works and can fix it easily. A professional will ensure that the disposal drain is properly fixed and can last for some time before needing repairs.


A sticky garbage disposal can be a major turn-off in the kitchen. It’s also embarrassing and unwelcome, especially when you have guests.

However, it doesn’t have to be too much of a problem if you know different ways to fix it and dispel the bad odor.

You’ll only need to choose one that works best for you and use it to clean your garbage disposal.