Sewer Smell Coming from a Garbage Disposal?

September 17, 2004

Garbage DisposalI would like to know how to get rid of the awful odor that comes up through the garbage disposal. It smells like the sewer. I asked a plumber about it, and he said to grind up a quarter of a lime without using water every so often in the disposal. It didn't work for me. Any suggestions?


Carolyn from KS


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September 17, 20040 found this helpful
Best Answer

Hi Carolyn,
I'd try some baking soda (about 1/2 cup) and then pour white vinegar down it until it stops fizzing. Then run the disposal with the water running. There is probably something stuck in the pipes below or below the blades that is smelling. This should help clean it out. I do this periodically with mine and it keeps it clean.
- Susan

By Pat (Guest Post)
September 17, 20040 found this helpful
Best Answer

Hi, When my garbage disposal smells I use 1-2 chopped up lemons (after I have used the juice for cooking) and I let the cold water run until the lemons have disappeared.

By Suze (Guest Post)
September 20, 20040 found this helpful
Best Answer

HI I had some problems with that and found taking off the rubber ring in the drain and turning it over---there is a lot of goop in there and cleaning that. Also I tried putting several cups of icecubes in there and running the disposal worked well and last the bleach plus the icecubes did the trick at the end.


I did try all of the other methods suggested but the ones I listed worked on my stinky disposal.

By Amanda A. (Guest Post)
October 14, 20040 found this helpful
Best Answer

Take a whole lemon and cut in half, take a cup of baking soda and pour into garbage diposal and add only 1/2 cup warm water to it, let sit for half an hour or more if smell is bad. Then turn disposal on and run hot water down disposal put in half lemon and wait til all chopped then add other half while still running hot water. That should take care of the smell. We use this method at my restaurant and it works wonders.

By sarah_bellum (Guest Post)
October 27, 20040 found this helpful
Best Answer

I have used the lemon and ice cube trick and when I am feeling lazy or in a hurry I stick one of my Electrasol tabs in it and turn it on. This also seems to help!

November 19, 20160 found this helpful
Best Answer

We were going nuts trying all of the suggested cleaning tricks on our disposer with no permanent solution.. smell kept coming back. I had even disconnected the dishwasher hose from the disposer knockout and reconnected to a small trap I installed in the waste line. It seemed to work for a few weeks but the stench came back.


The fix was to take out the disposer, dismantle and clean the rubber parts and surfaces thoroughly as well as the stem going from the disposer to the drain pipe. You'll find lots of gross residue on everything and it smells exactly like the stench.

September 20, 20040 found this helpful

I bought a toilet brush just for my disposal and use it whenever I notice a smell along with grinding lemons and oranges, I never seem to have too big a problem with odor.

By Diana Sanchez (Guest Post)
September 20, 20040 found this helpful

I grind up a whole lemon about once a week, and that really seems to help. I was having a lot of trouble with a "stinky garbage disposal." Hope this helps.

By beachers (Guest Post)
November 25, 20050 found this helpful

I had the same smell. the plumber came out and went under the kitchen. he found the pipe had rotted away and every thing I was putting down the garbage disposal was sitting on the ground rotting, hence the awful smell not to mention the rats that feast on it.


he replaced the pipe and cleaned up the mess poor guy, then he sprinkled a lot of lime powder on the ground to nutrilize the exisiting smell. problem solved thank god. i was sure to thank him

By Bob (Guest Post)
January 13, 20060 found this helpful

Always good to know you're not alone. We live in a less-than-a-year old new condo, and have recently noticed that when we turn on the tap and flush water down the garbage disposal, an awful, musty, sewer-like oder rises up out of the disposal cavity. We're going to try all the remedies and hints on this page, and hope that something works. Otherwise, it's a call to the contractor or plumber and who knows what that will lead to. Thanks, everybody.

January 13, 20060 found this helpful

I also use baking soda and vinegar in my disposal. It works pretty well especially after grinding up onions and garlic leftovers. I read that you can mix up white vinegar with a little water, freeze it in an ice cube tray and once a week, toss a couple of cubes in the disposal.


The ice sharpens the blades and of course the vinegar takes care of smells.

June 11, 20070 found this helpful

I had the same problem today with my disposal. I tried the suggestion from Susan and poured baking soda and white vinegar down until it stopped fizzing then let water run down the disposal. this worked great! I have tried other ways before but this worked instantly. Thank you Susan!

By Rosa (Guest Post)
July 4, 20070 found this helpful

We recently bought a house that is ten years old. The disposal is probably as old as the house. I noticed that ODOR coming from it. I poured a box of baking soda down but still have the odor. Then something fell down the sink. I took a long handled spoon and reached in to try to retreive it.


Well what I got out was a spoon with lots of black looking gunk on it. I couldn't believe how filthy this disposal was. I am going to try some of these ideas and if they don't work, out it goes. It doesn't look like it has ever been cleaned.

July 22, 20070 found this helpful

One of the problems is the garbage is thrown back up and it sticks around the sides and under the rubber gasket, the best thing is to take a small brush and scrub out the inside. not all rubber gaskets come off, ( be careful not to flip the mock in your face) and don't forget to run a lot of hot water in the opposite drain , food particles can backup in there and rot.

September 17, 20070 found this helpful

All these suggestions are good news for cleaning the disposal unit. Many thanks for all. Wish I could find a way to print just a few.Miriam Null

By (Guest Post)
November 29, 20070 found this helpful

I had an awful smell coming from my garbage disposal. I thought somehow the septic tank was backing up into the kitchen plumbing. Nothing seemed to work until I stuck a dish scrub brush down the disposal to scrub and found that awful 'stuff' had indeed collected under the rubber gasket. I almost gagged the smell was so horrific, but after scrubbing the gasket and flushing with vinegar the smell has subsided. THANK YOU!

By Jack (Guest Post)
December 29, 20070 found this helpful

I had a drainage problem on my property so I had someone dig a French drain and lay a vapor barrier in the crawl space. One of the workers unwittingly bumped into the garbage disposal drain pipe, and for about three years everything coming out of the disposal went straight to the crawl space. It rotted, smelled awful, and I had to spend $8,000 to remedy the damage done underneath the house. It's worth checking out - that smell may be your house, not the disposal!

By Gary W. (Guest Post)
September 23, 20080 found this helpful

First make sure you have the drain from the disposal going into a trap (U bend under the sink or under the floor) if not you will have nothing to stop the sewer smell if it is straight piped. Next try baking soda, gring a lemon usually helps also try grinding ice.

By Jeffery (Guest Post)
January 11, 20090 found this helpful

Personally, I make sure that when I use the disposal that I run alot of water down after I turn the disposal off to make sure that any gunk is flushed down. I also fill sink part ways with stopper and then remove the stopper so that the disposal is flooded with water. Sometimes your water running isn't strong enough.

I also use some lemon Comet and a toothbrush about once a week. I just pour a little comet in there and stick the brush down past the rubber filter and scrub around. When I first moved into my new place it was coated with black gunk but since I keep it clean there is rarely anything in it.


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January 4, 20100 found this helpful

When a garbage disposal is old and the rubber blades are worn, it doesn't grind everything like it should. Food gets stuck on the rubber and rots. Nothing helps. My daughter got a new disposal and the odor was gone. Complain to the apartment manager and insist they solve the problem.

March 10, 20152 found this helpful

We had the problem for a long time. Tried all those cleaning things, but nothing worked ... until one day the dishwasher decided to display slimy residue on the inside of its door. My wife suggested cleaning the filter. I shrugged it off, but she dug out the dishwasher's book and found a section on cleaning the filters. Those two filters that I did not know existed had never been touched n the three years since its installation. They were NASTY! Cleaning them fixed the disposer stink. That's logical because our dishwasher drains through an air-gap and directly into the disposer's main chamber. Once the whole works, including the drain tubing, was cleaned, no more stink. Tip: Rinse your dishes prior to sticking them in the dishwasher, regardless of what the experts say. And clean the dishwasher filter(s) routinely. We're doing it once a month nowadays.

April 28, 20160 found this helpful

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April 28, 20160 found this helpful

We live in an apartment and don't have the manual for our dishwasher, but believe me, I'll find it and take your advice. I've tried everything with our garbage disposal, including the lemons and ice and baking soda and bleach .. bleach goes in there several times a day. We even had a brand new garbage disposal installed, and still get the smell, especially if there's a couple of inches of water in the sink before it drains. I thought it might be a missing or defective backflow device further down the line. Your recommendation makes so much sense, and I'll try it asap. Thank you for the excellent instructions. !!!

August 5, 20160 found this helpful

This is why there are sink traps. The smell is likely from a lack of water in the sink trap, so the gas flows upward from the local sewer into your house. The lines to the dishwasher are most likely responsible. There should be a dip in the pipes which can hold water to prevent the gas from coming through.

January 4, 20170 found this helpful

I'm a chemist and when you mix vinegar and baking soda all you do is create a salt (sodium acetate) water and carbon dioxide gas (that is why it fizzes). Uses either one separately.

September 15, 20170 found this helpful

I have tried ice, baking soda, salt, bleach, grinding up peels, etc. Nothing works and it only started doing this in the last 6 months. For 15 years I had no problem with it. Didn't know if perhaps it was coming from the sewer but I only smell it our of the disposal. I thought maybe the disposal needs replaced but it works great at grinding up food waste. Any input would be appreciated.


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October 1, 20170 found this helpful

Every morning I boil a whole teakettle of water for my tea. After I pour the water in the mug for the tea I pour the rest of it down the garbage disposer. I only use my dishwasher once a week, but before I turn it on I turn on the disposer and run hot water through it. About once a month I take off the rubber ring and scrub it off and use a bottle brush and hot water to scrub out the interior of the disposer. My lemon tree is a great producer so about once a week I cut up a couple of lemons and put them through the disposer with cold water.
I NEVER put meat scraps or grease in the disposer.
This has worked for me for the last 25 years.

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