A garbage disposal is a convenient appliance and helps keep your kitchen clean. But the unit itself must be cleaned from time to time. Otherwise, it can get clogged and become a haven for mold and bacteria. Ground up food may seem to magically disappear. But tiny particles do get stuck in the chamber, build up, and start decaying, at which point you’ll have a smelly situation and home full of hungry flies.
Here, we’ll explain how to clean a garbage disposal in a few easy steps, including some helpful tips to keeping it clog- and odor-free.
Unplug the Disposal
You don’t want to accidentally turn the system on while working near the grinding chamber. Turning off the power must be the first step. Either unplug the disposal from an outlet under the sink or turn off the circuit breaker that powers the unit. Then switch the disposal on to make sure it’s not connected.
Clean Off the Baffle/Splash Guard
The rubber gasket has grooves and crevices that food and grease can collect in. Use an abrasive kitchen sponge and apply dish soap to it, or you can alternatively use a scrubbing brush or old toothbrush. Start at the top with the baffle still on the drain. Pull it out to reach the underside. Vigorous scrubbing and rinsing the sponge/brush frequently will help get the splash guard clean.
Examine the Disposal
Using a flashlight, illuminate the interior of the unit and check for any food particles. If you see any buildup, reach in with pliers or tongs to remove it. Do not reach into the garbage disposal with your hand, as the blades are quite sharp.
Clean the Grinding Chamber
Cleaning chemicals should never be used with a garbage disposal. Baking soda and vinegar will do; just be careful not to use too much vinegar, as it’s acidic enough to wear out the system’s rubber parts. First, pour ½ cup of baking soda into the unit. After about a half an hour,
slowly pour in a cup of vinegar. A natural chemical reaction will remove any remaining gunk in a few minutes. You can then pour a pot of boiling water into the drain or run the hot water tap to finish the job.
Clean Up the Blades
While you don’t want to attempt cleaning the blades by hand, ice and salt will do the trick and effectively scrub the mechanism clean. Put about two cups of ice, with the power back on, and add a cup of salt. With the cold water running, switch the disposal on and continue until it grounds up the ice.
Deodorize the Disposal
Citrus fruit does a great job of creating a nice, fresh smell. Most people opt for lemon peel. To freshen up the smell, place the lemon peel inside, run cold tap water, and turn on the device. Your sink should smell just fine afterward.
Alternatives include grinding ice cubes with citrus peels. This works because the peels by themselves won’t do much cleaning. If using bleach, make sure to use a diluted solution with 2 parts warm water to 1 part bleach. Pour it down the drain while running warm water. The solution will flush through the drain.
Keeping the Disposal Clean During Use
In between cleanings, you can care for your garbage disposal by:
- Grinding only 1 cup of food at a time.
- Not putting stringy vegetables, coffee grounds, or bones into it.
- Not pouring cooking grease or oil that can clog the unit.
- Run the tap to ensure food waste is flushed down the drain.
- Run the system until a few seconds after you don’t hear food grinding.
We hope these steps for how to clean a garbage disposal help keep your system running without problems.
Need Garbage Disposal Help? Contact Air Stars
Our experienced Oregon plumbers can help maintain, repair, and replace your garbage disposal. Fully licensed and trained, they respond quickly and arrive ready and equipped to resolve any issues you’re having. They can prevent future problems as well and provide a full range of plumbing services. To request garbage disposal service, book your appointment online or call 503-897-9292 today.