How to Remove Garbage Disposal Odors

Plumber in flannel underneath a kitchen sink holding a wrench

Garbage disposals can be great tools to assist in getting rid of food waste during your daily cleaning routine. However, they can accumulate build up and bacteria and create odors as organics spoil during the decomposition process.
If you’re struggling to eliminate garbage disposal odors, Pipe Spy can help. With our 40+ years of sewer maintenance experience, we can provide the knowledge and services you need to remediate sewer-related problems.

How Garbage Disposals Work

Knowing how garbage disposals work can give you a head-start into how to use and care for them. Their design and quality can help you decide what foods are appropriate in their use and which foods to avoid. Certain foods can cake or clog disposals such as flour or sugar and fibrous vegetables like celery, corn silk or husks and sweet potatoes. Other foods, such as corn cobs, can cause too much resistance within the grinding chamber and burn out your motor. Knowing what you can put through your disposal can also be helpful in the care of your sewer drain line.

Food waste disposer and kitchen scraps, vector isolated illustration

No matter which foods you dispose of through your garbage disposal, build up lodged in and on the parts of your disposal can become smelly. Some of the foods that can cause the worst odors are meats seasoned with garlic, onions, and even greens. As these foods decay, they emit oils and gases that produce sour smells strong enough to make your stomach turn.

Garbage Disposal Care & Maintenance

Adding a good cleaning regimen for your garbage disposal whenever you do a deep clean of your kitchen can save you money on maintenance and repairs in the long run. We’ve put together a few methods for eliminating garbage disposal odors to assist in your routine. Follow one or a few of these methods and you won’t have to worry about your kitchen being taken over by unidentifiable smells.

disposer food waste machine for your kitchen.

• Method one is extremely simple and can get rid of most loose food waste in your garbage disposal. Plug your sink, fill it with hot water and dish soap, and then unplug the sink and run the disposal until the water has fully drained.

• Method two employs ice cubes and kosher salt to get your garbage disposal clean. Running the disposal using the abrasiveness of the salt along with the melting shards of ice can dislodge food waste that has been caked onto the interior of your unit safely without chemicals.

• Method three is also fairly simple using baking soda and vinegar. Take 1/2 cup of baking soda and sprinkle it in the drain opening, and then pour 1/2 cup of vinegar into the drain opening and let the mixture fizz for 10 minutes. Run hot water in the drain while running your garbage disposal for about 45 seconds. The vinegar in the mixture will kill the odor-causing bacteria, but be careful not to use this method too often as the acidic nature of the ingredients could corrode the rubber parts of your unit.

• Method four uses a lemon peel to scent your garbage disposal. Remove the peel from one large lemon and cut it into 1/2 inch strips. Place the strips into the drain opening and run the disposal with cold water. You should get an immediate burst of the citrus scent. Note that this method will not do a deep clean or dislodge stuck-on food waste from your disposal.

• Method five applies bleach to kill the bacteria and aids in a thorough disinfection of your garbage disposal. Pouring a dilution of 1 tbsp of. bleach and 1 cup of hot water in a continuous stream down the drain opening while running cold water for about 60 seconds should not only kill any bacteria but help to remove any grime and build up. Bleach also has the capacity to corrode metals, so be careful to rinse well and use this method only when you really need it. This method will also aide in the care of your drain lines, easing and evening the flow down your sewer lateral.

If you’ve tried all of these methods and you find that your drain opening is still omitting a foul odor, you may be experiencing a deeper issue. There could be a problem with sewer backups; so remember to schedule your bi-annual sewer camera inspection to ensure your connection to the sewer lateral is sound and your sewer line is in good condition.

Unsure about a recurring problem with your drains? Call or contact Pipe Spy for a check-up on your home’s sewer system. We could save you time and money by catching the problem early!