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Cleaning a Garbage Disposal

Category Kitchen
With all the food and other waste that gets run through a garbage disposal it definitely needs to be cleaned occasionally. Regular cleaning will help the performance and extend the life of your garbage disposal also. This is a guide about cleaning a garbage disposal.


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January 17, 2008

Some people don't know, but there is a garbage disposal cleaner that should be used at least monthly to rid odors. It is a small paper package, that when inserted into the disposal with a trickle of water, it produces a blue foam with cleans the pipes, and if you have two sinks, will come up and clean the second system pipes too. My husband cleans fresh fish a lot, and this seems to help odors.


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By 2 found this helpful
September 13, 2011

I use baking soda. Make sure the power is off. Pour into the garbage disposal, then take a scratchy sponge and put your hand in there. Clean the walls and under the rubber flaps.

In between doing this, I use denture tablet cleansers. Put one in the disposal, but don't turn it on. Let the water and the tablet do the work. If you do this quite often, it takes less than a minute to clean it by hand.

One other tip is to use baking soda and cheap white vinegar. While it foams, it deodorizes and cleans.

By hopeful from Salem, OR

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By 1 found this helpful
August 26, 2011

To clean my garbage disposal, I slice one lemon in half and toss them into the disposal along with 4 or 5 ice cubes. I turn on the disposal and the cold water. Voila, the disposal is cleaned and freshened all at the same time.


Source: I do not know where I read this solution. I did not think of it myself, but I have been using it for years.

By Sandra B. from Jefferson, OH

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August 7, 20170 found this helpful

Running ice cubes through your garbage disposal will help clean off the blades. This is a guide about putting ice cubes in garbage disposal.

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By 0 found this helpful
November 5, 2013

My garbage disposal got clogged after I drained cooked rice into it. I tried to use a plunger to clear the clog but it did not work. While browsing Google for an answer, I came across ThriftyFun and the advice to use vinegar, baking soda with hot water. It worked like a miracle. In less than 5 minutes, it was cleared with plunging 2-3x. Thanks a lot.


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August 16, 20130 found this helpful

This is a guide about keeping garbage disposal smelling fresh. All of that food waste going down your garbage disposal can result in a smelly unit.

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By 0 found this helpful
August 25, 2011

One of the best ways that I know of is to turn the water on at a trickle and turn your disposal on while empty. Then push about two quarts of ice cubes down into the disposal. That's ice, not fingers! This cleans the blades. With clean blades, there will be no smell. The ice actually cleans the whole mechanism. You can use lemon down the disposal to help with odors, but this is totally optional.


If the disposal is really dirty, the crushed ice may back up into the sink. Don't worry, let it run and it will all go down. When the disposal runs empty, you are done. I cleaned apartments for many years, and you learn to work smart not harder than you need to.

By Zoek from Grand Junction, CO

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By 0 found this helpful
August 24, 2011

Fill the disposal with ice cubes and let stand for a good ten minutes. Then flush with cold water, while running the disposal for ten seconds or so. This method hardens all the gunk on the blades, causing it to break up. It cleans and sharpens the blades.

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
January 31, 2010

How do I clean my garbage disposal? There's a musty smell coming from the drain.

By Pat L. from Phoenix, AZ



January 31, 20100 found this helpful

They do sell a garbage disposal cleaner packet. It foams up in the drain. some hardware stores sell it. you can buy it online, too. http://www.alic  products/1264478

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February 3, 20100 found this helpful

This is an easy one. 1/2 cup baking soda followed by 1/2 cup of white vinegar let sit for 20 or 30 minuets then add 2 cups of very hot water. If your hot water is set for a dishwasher your hot water may be hot enough if not boiling water will work fine. If you still have a smell. The next time you zest any citrus add the left over peel to the garbage disposer. This will freshen your disposal.

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February 3, 20100 found this helpful

I swear by lemons. Grab a lemon slice off a few slices and drop in disposal side of the drain. Turn on disposal and reap the smell of fresh lemons. Save remaining lemon in fridge for the next week. This always works for me. Good luck

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February 4, 20100 found this helpful

Cut up a lemon or orange (any citrus fruits work well) put down the disposal and run as usual. It really helps with any odor and it is supposed to help clean it. If you want to clean it well, you can purchase garbage disposal pads at the larger chain stores and put one down into the disposal and turn on it actually foams up and really cleans it well but they're kind of expensive. Hope this helps!

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February 4, 20100 found this helpful

I agree with the lemon.
When you use your disposal, always leave the water running for @ 30 seconds after you shut if off. Your disposal won't smell at all.

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February 6, 20100 found this helpful

The 'citrus' trick is what I use, but I just toss any citrus piece, never have to cut a piece specifically for the disposal, just use a lemon wedge from my iced tea, right into the drain. The disposal always stays nice and fresh, because it takes a few days to get rid of the rind.

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By 0 found this helpful
May 1, 2012

I saw a solution for cleaning the sink disposal with ice and vinegar. I did try it at the time and it really worked well. I cannot find this information now. Think it was on Thrifty Fun.

By Edie C

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

January 31, 20100 found this helpful

What is the most efficient way to keep a garbage disposal clean? I would like to know if there is a product I can buy, but after looking in some stores I have not found any for this specific use.

Judy from Riverside, CA


Cleaning a Garbage Disposal

I only had a garbage disposal once, and I ground up lemons in it. (02/23/2009)

By Carol L.

Cleaning a Garbage Disposal

Wow, lots of great information. I do 3 different things to keep my garbage disposal clean.

  1. Make sure your disposal is off, take 1/2 cup of bleach and pour it into the disposal, this will kill off any bacteria that could be growing inside, now, if you feel that the bleach won't get into the areas properly, use an old rag, dip it into the bleach, then reach in and wash around the sides, etc. When finished pour the rest of the bleach into the drain.

  2. Use ice to help keep the blades nice and sharp, you will find that by putting about a cup or so of ice into the disposal does a great job.

  3. Last but not least to give it a refreshing smell and again to help the blades, cut up a lemon and toss it in, then run the disposal. It will be nice and aromatic, but also be clean. The acids from the lemon also help to kill off bacteria

By TxBluEyes

Cleaning a Garbage Disposal

When I use my garbage disposal, after I shut the disposal off I always leave the water running for approximately 30 seconds. This keeps it clean. (02/25/2009)


Cleaning a Garbage Disposal

I just did this. It's a helpful hint I read somewhere. I don't use hot water when doing dishes. No matter how hot it is, if your dishes are not being boiled for at least 5 minutes, it does no good to run the hot water and do your dishes with it. Hot water also melts that grease from food down your drain and pipes and it ends up clogging your pipes, then you end up calling the plumber. I had a plumber tell me, that I would be very bad for his livelihood.

I use a good amount of Dawn dish soap and some water softener, like Calgon or White King D and soak, scrub, and rinse well. Well, my disposer got really disgusting lately and I poured down about 1 cup of baking soda and poured, slowly, vinegar until the soda was almost down the drain and let it foam for a few minutes. Then run cold water for a few minutes. It worked really well and deodorized the drain and pipes. (02/25/2009)

By C.Thayer

Cleaning a Garbage Disposal

Just cut up some lemons and put down the disposal. They clean and deodorize.

Janette (02/25/2009)

By Ashley

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February 23, 20090 found this helpful

What is the best way to clean and sanitize a garbage disposal?

Debbie52 from IL


Unclogging disposal w/ baking soda & vinegar

I found the baking soda/vinegar trick on this site while checking Google this morning for "how to clear plugged garbage disposal". I tried it this morning, and it worked!

I had dumped a large container of cooked pasta into it last night and plugged it up. I'm always careful about not putting grease and fibrous junk into it, but I'd never heard the warning about starch before. The blades would turn, but water wouldn't drain at all. When I turned it on, everything spewed out in a mess.

As directed, I put a half box of baking soda into the drain, right through the standing water, then 1 cup vinegar, then a 2nd cup of vinegar, and followed that up with a pot of boiling water. I could see a few little bubbles coming up, so then I used a plunger, and it opened right up.

Thank you for keeping me from using drain cleaner. My brother thanks you, too, since he's the one I would have called next. (03/16/2008)

By Sheryl

Cleaning a Garbage Disposal

While buying cleaning supplies at WalMart I came across a product called Spring Again Garbage Disposal Cleaner. It was only about $3 for 12 uses so I figured it was worth a shot. I am happy to report that it worked marvelously and it was really easy to use. (08/12/2008)

By Paul

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September 13, 20060 found this helpful

I need to know how to clean a garbage disposal. I don't remember ever having one before, an easy homemade way. Thank you folks. You have always come to my rescue.

Jamish from Ransom, Kansas


Cleaning a Garbage Disposal

I put the rubber ring in the dishwasher on the top shelf to clean it. (08/14/2006)


Vinegar and Baking Soda

I toss in a handful of baking soda followed by a cup or so of cheap white vinegar. This will foam and fizz. When the fizzing stops, add some more vinegar. Leave it for about 20 min, then flush with very hot water. Easy, homemade and cheap, also non-toxic. (08/14/2006)

By Linda

Cleaning a Garbage Disposal

I use bar keepers friend to clean my sink. It does pretty well on the rubber piece also. Recently, I cut the old flaps away and inserted a new replacement rubber. You can buy these at any hardware store I brought mine at Home Depot under $3 I remember.

I fill my disposal up with ice cubes and turn on the water, hit the switch, and add lemon or lime juice about every four to six months. I don't really use my disposal for grinding food away. I throw most in the garbage. (08/14/2006)

By jjager

Cleaning a Garbage Disposal

I use an old toothbrush to clean the rubber part - oh maybe every 4 weeks or when I notice the grunge building up. Works great. (08/14/2006)



I grow several kinds of mint in my backyard. Every week I will pick a large bunch of mint and grind in the garbage disposal. It removes any odors and residue and makes the kitchen smell the mint is free and is good for the environment. If you decide to grow mint, be sure to plant in an area that you don't care that it will take over a flower bed... (08/15/2006)

By kathyElaine

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May 17, 20060 found this helpful

I put white vinegar, baking soda, hot water, ice cubes, etc. into my kitchen sink garbage disposal. The black rubber "fins" covering the unit get grungy with a greasy, dirty-looking film. I've tried cleaning with a vinegar soaked rag which helps some. Does anyone have an easier way to keep this area of the garbage disposal clean? Thanks for help and for a super website.

Mairmie from Alberta, Canada


Cleaning a Garbage Disposal

It sounds like you've tried just about everything. What works for me is good old "elbow grease!" I pull out the rubber fitting and scrub the grunge with a little bit of dish soap on an old toothbrush. The toothbrush gets down into the ridges quite well.

Hope this helps!! (05/17/2006)

By Proud mom of 4 girls

Cleaning a Garbage Disposal

Try this: cut in half 2 large lemons, put into disposal unit along with half a cup of baking SODA, turn on briefly, just a couple of seconds, turn off and then pour lots of boiling water into the unit put the plug in and turn on for about 5 seconds. Works every time.

Good luck. (05/17/2006)

By Ang

Cleaning a Garbage Disposal

I purchased a brush made to clean the garbage disposal from The Clean Team via the internet. They are based in California, I believe. Also, there is a new product on the market made especially for cleaning the garbage disposal... I'm sorry i cant remember the name, but it has a lemony smell.
Best wishes (05/17/2006)

By Carol in PA

Cleaning a Garbage Disposal

If you can somehow submerge the piece of rubber you are referring to, use very hot water, a small amount of dish soap, and bleach. The bleach does a great job of soaking into the cracks, disinfecting, and cutting through the slimey grime. (05/18/2006)

By Elizabeth

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Repairing a Garbage Disposal (Disposer), Man's hands holding a power screwdriver to a garbage disposal.
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Unclogging a Garbage Disposal
Clean garbage disposal drain.
Keeping Garbage Disposal Smelling Fresh
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