If there has been a funky smell going on in your kitchen that you haven’t been able to place, chances are that it’s coming from your garbage disposal.
A lot of people have the idea that garburators are magically “self-cleaning”. Dish soap goes down there all the time, right?
Nothing could be further from the truth as, along with that soap, all manner of food, waste and other kitchen materials make their way through the mechanism of a garbage disposal, deliberately or not. And if you’re not cleaning it—the right way—regularly, all that debris and bacteria is collecting into a stinky build-up. In fact, you should be cleaning it once a week to ensure it is sanitized and working the best that it can.
And, no, squeezing some dish soap down the hole and running it with hot water will not suffice. There actually is a right way to clean a garbage disposal.
What not to do
Before talking about how to clean your garbage disposal, let’s talk about what you shouldn’t be putting into it under any circumstance. Coffee grounds, bones, eggshells, peach and avocado pits can wear down and even damage the teeth of your garburator. Add grease and oil to the mix, and you’ll be dealing with huge clogs, calls to the plumber, and purchasing a new unit long before it’s reached its end-by date.
Also, never put bleaches and other corrosives into your garbage disposal as it can damage the parts and corrode the metal.
To prevent costly clogs, damage and bad smells, here’s the right way—well, two ways—to clean a garbage disposal.
Get it bubblin’
Remember that science project back in eighth grade when you made a volcano out of baking soda and vinegar? Same thing.
Start by heating up a cup of vinegar in the microwave until it’s hot. Pour it into your drain while also adding half a cup of baking soda. Watch the volcano for a few minutes while it works its bubbly magic, eating away all the debris and buildup. Then, pour a kettle full of hot water down the drain to rinse it all out. Repeat if your garburator is particularly smelly.
Got a slow draining drain? Here’s why and what to do about it.
Rough it up
Alternatively, pouring an icy mix of rock salt, cold water and ice down your drain while running the garburator will keep it clean as well (But it’s not as fun as a volcano).
The power of the peel
To combat a stinky sink between cleaning, you can also use the leftover peels of any citrus fruit, such as lemon, orange or grapefruit, to zest things up.
While running your garburator, throw in the pieces bit by bit while also running the cold water. The oils from the citrus will naturally clean and deodorize your disposal, and the roughness of the peels themselves will gently clean buildup off of the blades.
By practicing these few simple cleaning steps, you can lengthen the life of your garbage disposal and keep it in smooth running order.