How to Get Rid of Garbage Disposal Odor

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Garbage disposal is the main responsible part to keeping your kitchen clean and smell free.

Cleaning chemicals are used when needed and you can't really go wrong with using those, so we consider them being a less important part since they need less of your focus and energy than the garbage disposal.

The main point of a garbage disposal machine is to shred food into smaller pieces so that it doesn't clog the pipes and cause water to overflow. Taking care of this machine will lead to it doing its job for you well.

Anything that isn't biodegradable shouldn't be put in it, but people often make this mistake anyway. Your pipe system needs to be able to run smoothly in order for it to have water flowing without any nuisance for you. If it encounters a blockage, you will definitely know by the smell.

Over time, bacteria and leftover food culminate causing for the garbage disposal to emit a certain odor. This will happen eventually so when it does, don't worry. It's perfectly normal and we'll guide you through solving this problem.

How to Get Rid of Garbage Disposal Odor

Why does this happen?

To know why this happens first we need to shed some light on how garbage disposing machines work.

To understand how this machine works you need to know that the majority are constructed by two major parts - the upper and lower hopper chamber. The upper part is of course where food and water go to. The lower part is where food is sent out of the drains.

Impeller blades are the ones who are slicing and dicing the food, and then the food goes through the openings, further down the drain.

Please keep in mind that although it might not look like it, the blades are very sharp so do take precautions to ensure safety.

When you sense an unpleasant smell in your kitchen, before you blame yourself for poor cooking skills, consider that it might be coming from the garbage disposal.


The smell is a consequence of normal wear and tear, as food can get stuck in the blades or under the lid and rot if not taken care of. It can come from items that have a strong scent (for example garlic or onion).

What's important is that the smell is neutralized quickly, before it spreads to other rooms of your home.

The best way of going about your garbage is to compost it. This way fertilizer is created that improve your soil and can be used in your garden. It doesn't take that much time and energy. All you need is a compost container and you'll show how much you care for our planet.

How to get rid of garbage disposal odor?

Once you've noticed the odor appeared, there are numerous ways of going about solving this issue. The following tips vary in difficulty, choose one depending on how experienced you are and what you can find in your house as a tool.

Clean the lid

For sure this is with what you should start. Never over-complicate a problem that could be simple. In other words, the stench can be on the surface, so there would be no need for you to dig deeper.

Grab a brush, put some soap and water onto it and remove food particles that are on the surface. An obvious solution that shouldn't be neglected, many people's problems with odor can be solved by doing just this.

Brush it

A brush comes in handy when attempting to reach below the surface and into the pipes. Before doing anything with the machine, unplug it and turn off the power. It's recommended that you disconnect the entire unit to ensure your safety.


Use lemon

The citrus from lemon (you can even use oranges instead) gets rid of stenches. Pour lemon juice in the garbage disposal and wait for it to do its work.

There might be a scent from citrus now, but it sure is more comfortable than the previous odor. This is an inexpensive way of solving your issue so be sure to give it a go.

Do it with ice cubes

It is proven that ice helps with removing the smell from the pipes. It won't leave another scent behind it like citrus or other cleaning chemicals. It even goes the extra mile for you, ice can sharpen the blades of the unit and help it run better in the future.

Mix baking soda and vinegar

First, make sure the garbage disposal is turned on.

Second, put baking soda in it and wait a minute or two.

Finally, put vinegar on top of it all. Leave it be and after a while check if the odor is neutralized. If you can't find baking soda can just mix vinegar with cold water and pour the mix.

baking soda

Use Bleach

This is a solution good not only for removing stenches but with dislodging trapped food particles. Bleach can be from mild to scented, depending on your preference. Pour it down the drain along with cold water and watch it do magic by removing odor quickly.

Also, see here for the best drain cleaners for garbage disposal.

What shouldn't be put in the garbage disposal?

The rule is - if it can't be broken into tiny pieces or it can't completely dissolve, it shouldn't go in the drain. Some things are logically not meant to go there, but it's always best to double check, so here's a list of things that you should definitely avoid letting go down the garbage disposal.

  • Banana peels - better toss them in the compost instead.
  • Fruit pits - these are very difficult to break into tiny pieces.
  • Grease - over time it creates a mass that clogs the pipes and collects food particles.
  • Bones - for obvious reasons, bones shouldn't be put in the garbage disposal either.
  • Eggshells - these are better left for the compost pile.
  • Pasta - it quickly expands in pipes, collecting food particles and creating clogs.
  • Rice - the same as with pasta is applied to rice.
  • Potato peels - starchy and very difficult to break into smaller components.
  • Onion skins - these things have a foul smell on their own, so best to throw them directly in the garbage can.
  • Nuts - just paint a picture in your head of a nut in the garbage disposal that is supposed to shred it. Not a good idea.
  • Broken glass - logical, but often times people make this mistake. Be sure not to repeat it yourself.
  • Cigarette buds - they don't smell to well do they?

What can go in the garbage disposal?

  • Citrus rounds - natural and safe for the drain. They will also clean the pipes for you.
  • Small bones - as long as they are not very hard to crack, they shouldn't pose an issue for the blades.
  • Fruit - if any fruit makes its way down the drain, don't worry, it's safe for it to be there.
  • Vegetables - other than the ones mentioned above, vegetables are safe to put in the garbage disposal since they are not hard to crumble up.
  • Dish soap - rarely anyone pours soap into their garbage disposal, but this helps it clean and prevent clogs, so pour some soap along with cold water down this drain from time to time.

Final Thoughts: On Getting Rid of Garbage Disposal Odor

We recommend that you check with your garbage disposal manufacturer to see the appliance's compatibility before trying these tips. We say this because it's much easier to check first than to create a whole other problem that is more difficult to solve than the odor.

Hopefully by reading and applying some solution mentioned above you've successfully removed odor from your kitchen. 

Just like your fridge which emits an odor from expired food, your garbage disposal creates smell from food that has been there for a while.

No one wants their kitchen to smell like rotten eggs and ruin their appetite, so people with garbage disposals should pay an extra amount of attention to using that machine right and keeping it running smoothly.

You can always be your own handyman and we will always be here to provide you with new solutions to do so!