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The Home Depot

How to Clean a Garbage Disposal

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Plumbing > How to Clean a Garbage Disposal
How to Clean a Garbage Disposal

There is never a good reason to put your hand or any living thing in a garbage disposal. Used correctly, it grinds up small, thin pieces of organic material. Sticking your fingers in a garbage disposal is bad, stupid and could really make you wish you had a Wayback Machine to visit yourself when you still had a hand

  1. A great way to make the whole area smell fresh is to take some orange or grapefruit peels and run them through the disposal.

    1. Daily Maintenance

    Performing daily maintenance is no guarantee that when you flick it on it will never be blocked. But having a schedule that you use day-to-day will make sure that you start fresh whenever you use your garbage disposal. By doing this you will keep things running well, help eliminate odors and slow down the need for radical cleanings.


    What you will need are things you already have in your kitchen:


    • Small scrub brush

    • Dish detergent

    • Hot water


    Plug and fill your sink with hot water. Don’t make it so hot that you can’t reach in and pull out the stopper. Put in a little bit of detergent, enough to create suds. Take out the plug and crank-up the disposal. This should shake-off most of the debris left in the unit. Turn-off the disposal, take out the small brush (the kind that has around an 8-inch long handle) and begin scrubbing the inside of the garbage disposal. After you’re finished with the brush, put it aside. Turn on the cold water. Turn on the disposal. Let it run for a minute. That’s it for the daily maintenance.

  2. 2.Deep Cleanings

    This is something you want to do every couple of weeks. Not only will this freshen things up, but it will also slightly sharpen the blades in the garbage disposal.


    What you will need, you probably have around the house:


    • Large pot

    • Old toothbrush

    • Vinegar

    • Baking soda

    • Ice cubes

    • Water


    Flush away any stuff that may still be in the unit. Toss in a few ice cubes while the disposal is running. This is the part that sharpens the blades. It also helps break-up any materials which remain in the disposal. As it’s running, pour a 1/2 cup of baking soda into the unit.


    Get ready for some fun. You’re now going to slowly drop in a cup of vinegar to the baking soda. Here comes the fizz. Slap on the plug. You’re creating a pressure situation that can effectively blow-out and organics that may be lodged in the pipes. Allow this to set, stopper on, for about 5-minutes.


    As the chemical reaction is occurring, fill the large pot with water and bring it to a boil. Now that the H2O is simmering, take out the plug, slowly and safely pour the boiling water into the drain. Turn the unit on to further remove any materials left behind.


    If you can remove the splash guard, the black rubber cover, scrub the underside with the old toothbrush. Can’t remove the splash guard? Lift up what you can and give it a good once-over with the toothbrush. Underneath the rubber cover is where build-up remains. This is what causes odors. By cleaning this area, you will be able to eliminate the stink.


    A great way to make the whole area smell fresh is to take some orange or grapefruit peels and run them through the disposal. Both methods will keep this valuable kitchen gadget from dying before its time. And it will definitely make things a lot more appetizing. A nice smelling, working disposal beats the alternative.

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