3 Do-It-Yourself methods to clean your garbage disposal

Garbage disposal cleaners (also called “breath mints” and “deodorizers”) have become popular lately. For $3 to $5 you can pick up a pack of pellets that you just drop into your disposal. While many of these products are labeled as cleaners, they mostly just provide a burst of fresh smell.

Below are a few recommendations for methods that actually clean your disposal and freshen the smell as well. Chances are good that you have these items on hand, too.

Remember: Never put your hand into a disposal that is still plugged in. Always remove the power cable from the wall first (typically found under the sink).

Baking soda and vinegar
We recently recommend this mix for cleaning a clogged drain, and the combination can also be beneficial in cleaning your garbage disposal. To use this method, pour very hot water down the drain first to loosen up any food waste. Then pour about half a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by about a cup of vinegar and a cup of hot water. Put the drain plug in, and if you have a dual basin, cover the other side, too.

Bleach and water
Be sure to read this section in its entirety before trying! You can clean your disposal by mixing bleach and water, however, it’s important to note that bleach can cause grease in your drains to solidify. It’s crucial that you use a small amount and flush thoroughly. Combine one gallon of water with a tablespoon of liquid chlorine bleach, and slowly pour the solution down the drain. Wait about five minutes, then pour hot water into the disposal. Do NOT use cold water with this method, as it can solidify your grease with the combination of bleach.

Citrus peel and cubed ice
Run cold water into your sink basin, and begin pouring a mix of cubed ice and citrus peel into your disposal. A cup or two of ice can really loosen up chunks in your disposal. You can use orange, lemon or lime peels, whatever suits your sniffer. This method will not remove as much of the bacteria buildup in your sink, but does help to flush your disposal of chunks of food, clean your blades and provide that fresh scent. Try this combination with one of the options above for best results.

For all of these methods, it’s a good idea to flush your disposal with about a gallon of near-boiling water one more time. Do not run your disposal when you pour hot water (always run your disposal with cold water). The hot water simply flushes any remaining residue. If you’ve tried these methods and your disposal is still not performing well, give us a call. Whether you need a plumber in Lexington or Louisville, we’re available 24/7 for a free, honest quote.