How To Control Garbage Disposal Odors

Garbage disposal units in kitchen sinks were meant to make life more convenient. They let you just wash away, without worrying about clearing debris off your plates (small bits, anyway) first. However, one common mistake that homeowners commit is using the garbage disposal unit without properly cleaning it. That is, until some malodorous concoction gets stuck underneath the sink, and starts stinking up the kitchen, or even the entire house.

Controlling garbage disposal odors involves a two step process that includes cleaning the garbage disposal unit and applying deodorizing solutions.

What you need

  • Dishwashing liquid (get the degreasing type)
  • Hot water
  • Kitchen cleaner or powdered cleanser
  • Bleach
  • Lemon (lime and orange work, too)
  • Baking soda
  • Mint extract
  • Vinegar ice

Clean the garbage disposal unit. Don’t try to deodorize your garbage disposal unit without first cleaning. Doing so, you will only be masking the odors, and you might end up with an even worse combination of malodor and deodorizer.

Garbage disposal odors are often caused by debris stuck inside the grinding mechanism or the splash guard. Before manually checking the garbage disposal for debris, be sure to turn off the main switch or circuit breaker where it is connected. Use a flashlight to check for debris. You can manually feel for any foodstuff stuck in the splashguard, and throw these into the trash can, if any. Wipe a mixture of water and bleach on the underside of the rubber splash guard, in case bacteria from old food have accumulated. This could be the source of the bad odors.

After manually removing any debris, plug the garbage disposal back in (or turn on the circuit breaker). Insert the stopper and fill the sink with a mixture of hot water and 1/8 cup of degreaser or degreasing dishwashing liquid. Once the sink is nearly full, remove the stopper and let the  water drain while the garbage disposal is turned on. Leave the garbage disposal on while the hot water runs for about five minutes.

Deodorize with natural ingredients.

You can purchase commercial deodorizing solutions, but if you have lemons, lime and oranges at home, you can use these to effectively deodorize your garbage disposal unit. Any citrus fruit will do—citrus is acidic, and acts as a disinfectant. Slice the fruit in half, and  squeeze the juice into a mixture with baking soda. Pour this into the sink, turn on cold water and then activate the garbage disposal. This will leave your sink smelling citrusy and clean. For good measure, you can even toss in the lemon, lime or orange peel while the garbage disposal unit is working. The combination of lemon juice and baking soda will help disinfect the blades and also the drainage.

Aside from citrus, you can also freeze a mixture of vinegar and water in ice trays. You can then drop the vinegar ice cubes into your garbage disposal unit and turn the machine on. The grinder will sharpen itself while crushing the ice, and the vinegar’s acid will help disinfect the garbage disposal.

Still, it’s best not to be totally lulled by the convenience that a garbage disposal unit allows you. If you have large-sized leftovers like bones and meat, it’s still best to throw these into the trash bin. Let the garbage disposal deal with small foodstuffs, but don’t abuse the machine. Also make it a habit to clean, disinfect and deodorize the garbage disposal every two weeks or so, to prevent horrific smells from building up.


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