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How to clean your garbage disposal

small flower next to the kitchen sink

We know that homeowners’ most common issue in their kitchens is having food debris build-up, making the kitchen sinks develop a disturbing smell. This is because the garbage disposal has a way of making all the food leftovers disappear down the drain in no time. 

However, we have good news! There are numerous easy ways to clean your garbage disposal in no time, and in this article, we will share some general tips for everyday use that will help you keep all the smells at bay!

What is a garbage disposal?

To put it simply, a garbage disposal unit, also known as a waste disposal unit, is a device installed under a kitchen sink, placed between the sink’s drain and the trap. The garbage disposal unit aims to collect solid food waste in a grinding chamber. 

When you turn on the disposal, a spinning disc (or sometimes an impeller plate) starts to turn quickly, forcing the food waste against the grinding chamber’s outer wall. Usually, after using the disposal, people tend to run hot water down the drain, thinking that it is all needed to keep it clean, but that is wrong! Why? Because most people chuck away not only solid food down the drain but also grease, fat, and other types of fibrous waste into the garbage disposal, making the drain line become plugged. 

How to clean your garbage disposal 

And now let’s get to the fun part, where we talk about our top 5 ways in which you can clean your garbage disposal in no time. 

1. Physically remove lodged food 

When thinking about how to clean your garbage disposal, the first step you need to take is the most crucial one, cutting the power off. Failure to do so might end up with severe consequences! To disconnect the disposal, simply pull the plug or turn off the electricity from the breaker box if you can’t find the plug (typically placed under the sink and connected to an outlet). 

After this crucial step, if large items or food has become lodged in your garbage disposal, you will need to remove them manually before proceeding further. To remove any unwanted objects, you can simply use pliers or tongs, but be careful to avoid damaging the grinder, as well as putting your hands down at the garbage disposal if possible. In case you must use your hands, check that the grinder has been cut from power first, and consider that the blades can be very sharp. 

2. Flush the disposal with water

Flushing out the disposal unit with just water will help remove any loose dirt or grime, but adding a dash of soap and running hot water will be much more efficient. There is no straightforward answer for the best drain cleaner for garbage disposal when it comes to cleaning, but we know that there are numerous options that you can choose from that will do the job perfectly well!

Running the hot water until 2 to 4 inches is sitting in the sink, pulling out the plug, and turning on the kitchen sink garbage disposal will allow the water to flush through. Hot water liquefies any oil or grease in the drain, making it much more effective than cold water. Most people simply run the tap and let it flow, but this is not as efficient as flushing the drain. By flushing the drain, you allow the entire garbage disposal to be rinsed out and purged of any built-up debris. We have a pro tip for you to make a half cup of baking soda and pour it into the garbage disposal. By letting it sit like that for half an hour, it will work its deodorising magic without you having to do anything!

After adding the baking soda, pour in one cup of vinegar to cause a foamy liquid to bubble up. The conclusion is that the chemical reaction will clean away all the gunk in your kitchen disposal for about five minutes, a time when you can rinse with hot water once again or with boiled water from a pot. 

3. Use salt, ice cubes, or citrus fruits

A great way to remove tough debris is to grind ice cubes and salt in your garbage disposal. Just pour two cups of ice into your disposal and one cup of rock salt. Then, turn on the garbage disposal, run cold water, and leave the ice and salt to get crushed by the disposal blades. 

Another great alternative to ice and salt is to freeze vinegar into ice cubes and crush them at the disposal instead. By using the method described, you will have the additional benefit of sharpening the blades of the disposal whilst eliminating all the unwanted odour. You can also freshen up your garbage disposal by using citrus fruits such as lemon peels or oranges. Just stuff the lemon peel into the disposal, leave the cold water run from the tap, and run the power. By doing so, the citrus peel will leave behind a pleasant scent that will refresh your whole kitchen sink. 

4. Scrub thoroughly

Cleaning the inside of your kitchen sink garbage disposal can be done manually using a toothbrush or a scrub brush designed explicitly for garbage disposals. If you can, remove the screen from the top of the drain first, so you can make the cleaning process much more manageable. 

At this point, you can also use bleach, which is very effective at killing germs and quickly freshening up your kitchen sink drain. But don’t use too much of it as it can also harden grease (if present), making it much more challenging to be removed afterwards. Allow the bleach to sit in for a minute or two, and then turn on the hot water from the tap and leave it running for a couple of minutes to flush away all that bleach. 

5.  Maintain your garbage disposal 

When it comes to garbage disposals, the number one rule is to avoid putting anything down there that is not biodegradable. You can simply minimise damage and cut down on your cleaning efforts by avoiding putting down items like: 

  • Fibrous materials (onion skins, corn husks, and celery stalks) 
  • Starchy materials (potato peels and thick paste) 
  • Expandable food (rice, pasta, and coffee grinds) 

However, you can grind up items like eggshells, small fish or chicken bones, as they can end up helping in the cleaning process of your garbage disposal. A widespread mistake most people make is turning off their garbage disposal as soon as the noises stop. Our recommendation is to leave the garbage disposal on with the water running for a couple of seconds after the grinding noises subside. This is because there may still be small particles remaining in the disposal unit which have not yet been cleared away. And the last and easiest tip we have for you is to cut large food items into smaller pieces. This is especially applicable for fruits, vegetables, or anything else that you consider to give your garbage disposal a hard time processing food. 

And there you have it, our quick and easy ways on how to clean your garbage disposal and keep your kitchen smelling fresh at all times. At Ace Cleaning, we have been providing kitchen cleaning services in the Midlands for many years, and our professional cleaning team is fully trained on the latest cleaning techniques whilst focusing on efficiency and safety. 

If you’re considering using a professional kitchen cleaning service or would like a deep kitchen clean, we can help! We can visit your site, assess the best schedule and plan for your cleaning needs, whilst all you have to do is contact us to get a free evaluation, and a member of our friendly team will get back to you as soon as possible. In the meantime, why not look at our articles on 5 questions to ask before hiring a professional cleaning service, and why should you hire a professional cleaning service for more information. 

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