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How to Clean a Garbage Disposal Properly

How to Clean a Garbage Disposal Properly

A well-maintained garbage disposal can last up to 15 years. This lifespan can be extended by adopting regular cleaning habits and avoiding common pitfalls that lead to wear and tear.  If you’re wondering how to clean a garbage disposal effectively, and what are the best practices to ensure its longevity, keep reading. You’ll learn some tips for keeping your garbage disposal in top condition, ensuring it serves you well for years to come.

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Signs It’s Time to Clean Your Garbage Disposal

Several telltale signs indicate it’s time for a thorough clean:

  • Bad Odor: This is often the first sign that your garbage disposal needs attention. Over time, food particles can get trapped and start to decompose, leading to unpleasant smells emanating from your sink.
  • Leaks: If you notice moisture or leaks under your sink, it could be a sign that your garbage disposal is clogged or not functioning properly, necessitating a clean-up.
  • Not Grinding Food (Clogged): A clear indication that your garbage disposal requires cleaning is when it struggles to grind food or seems clogged. This is often due to food build-up inside the disposal.
  • Buildup of Mold or Mildew: Visible signs of mold or mildew around the garbage disposal are a red flag. This not only affects the unit’s performance but also poses health risks.

Cleaning Your Garbage Disposal With Ice

Cleaning your garbage disposal with ice is a simple and effective method. This technique is beneficial for dislodging and scrubbing away stubborn food residue and sharpening the blades.


  • Effectively Removes Debris: The hard texture of ice helps knock off food particles and grime from the blades and grinding chamber.
  • Non-toxic and Safe: Ice is a chemical-free method, making it safe for your disposal and plumbing system.


  • Limited Deep Cleaning Ability: While ice effectively removes larger debris, it may not thoroughly clean smaller particles or eliminate bacteria and odor.

Equipment/Supplies Needed:

  • Ice cubes (preferably a few cups)
  • Optional: Rock salt or vinegar for enhanced cleaning

Here’s the process to clean garbage disposal with ice

  1. Fill the Disposal: Put a generous amount of ice cubes into the garbage disposal. Adding rock salt or vinegar to the ice can boost the cleaning potency.
  2. Run Cold Water and the Disposal: Turn on the cold water and run the garbage disposal. The cold water solidifies grease or oils, making them easier to grind.
  3. Let it Grind: Allow the disposal to run until the ice is completely ground up. The grinding action of the ice against the blades and walls of the disposal helps to scrub off residue.
  4. Final Rinse: Once the ice is fully crushed and the disposal sounds clear, turn off the disposal and let the water run for another minute to rinse away any remaining debris.

Cleaning Your Garbage Disposal With Baking Soda

Cleaning your garbage disposal with baking soda is a popular method known for its simplicity and effectiveness. Baking soda, a common household item, is a versatile cleaner well-suited for cleaning garbage disposals.

The advantages of baking soda include its non-toxic nature and ability to neutralize odors. Baking soda is also abrasive enough to clean without damaging the disposal’s components. This method is safe for most septic systems and plumbing.

However, the disadvantages are that it may not be as effective in removing grease and may require additional cleaning agents or steps for thorough cleaning.

To clean your garbage disposal with baking soda, you will need:

  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar (optional for enhanced cleaning)
  • Boiling water

Here’s the process to clean garbage disposal with baking soda:

  1. Pour Baking Soda: Start by pouring a half cup of baking soda directly into the garbage disposal.
  2. Add Vinegar (Optional): Add a cup of vinegar to the baking soda for a deeper clean. This creates a fizzy reaction that helps loosen grime and buildup.
  3. Flush with Boiling Water: After letting the mixture sit for a few minutes, flush the disposal with boiling water. This helps to remove any loosened debris and clears the disposal.
  4. Run the Disposal: Turn on the disposal and let it run for a minute with hot water to flush out all residue.

clean garbage disposal

Garbage Disposal Maintenance Tips

  1. It’s recommended to clean your garbage disposal at least once a month. Regular cleaning prevents food debris buildup and reduces the risk of clogs and odors.
  2. When using your disposal, use cold water. Cold water solidifies fats or oils, making them easier to grind and flush away. Hot water, conversely, can liquefy these substances, leading to clogs.
  3. Be mindful of the types of foods you put into your disposal. Avoid fibrous materials like celery, banana peels, coffee grounds, and hard items like bones, which can damage the blades. 
  4. Also, avoid pouring grease or oil into the disposal as they can solidify and cause blockages.
  5. Regular use of the garbage disposal is recommended. Even when not disposing of food waste, run it regularly with cold water to prevent rust and corrosion.
  6. Grind citrus peels in the disposal to eliminate bad odor. The natural oils and acidity help clean the blades and leave a fresh scent.

Garbage Disposal Services With Hutchinson

When addressing any garbage disposal repair, installation, or replacement issues, Hutchinson stands out as a reliable and proficient choice. Choosing us for your garbage disposal, drain cleaning, and other plumbing needs ensures you receive expert service backed by years of experience in the field.

We serve a diverse clientele across New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. This means we can bring our expertise to a larger community, ensuring that quality plumbing services are accessible to more people. Regardless of location within these states, you can count on Hutchinson for timely and reliable service.