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How to Clean and Maintain Your Garbage Disposal

When you have food scraps on your plate, the easiest way to get rid of them is to dump them down the garbage disposal. However, it’s important to recognize that your disposal isn’t immune to complications. Food particles can get lodged in the disposal over time, creating a frustrating (and foul-smelling) problem.

Fortunately, learning how to clean and maintain your garbage disposal isn’t as difficult as you might think! You will need a few supplies, but fortunately, you likely have many of them sitting in your pantry.

Let’s go over some of the best garbage disposal maintenance tips below.

Reasons to Clean Your Garbage Disposal

Before we can discuss how to clean and maintain your garbage disposal, it’s important to know how important regular cleanings are. First and foremost, dirty and clogged garbage disposals are known for harboring bacteria. Additionally, if food gets trapped in the disposal, it can eventually pose many issues for you and your family — namely, a repulsive, pungent smell.

As a homeowner, you also might think that you can throw anything and everything down the disposal. After all, its primary job is to grind food waste. However — this is certainly not the case. You’ll want to avoid putting many types of food scraps down the disposal, including:

  • Coffee grounds
  • Fibrous foods, such as celery and onion skins
  • Potato peels
  • Eggshells
  • Bones and other hard foods
  • Expandable foods, like pasta, rice, and oatmeal

If you’ve dumped any of these food particles down the drain, you’ll likely want to clean your garbage disposal much sooner than later.

How to Clean Your Garbage Disposal

There are various methods you can use to clean your garbage disposal. Some of the tips below will require supplies, such as a toothbrush, vinegar, and baking soda, so make sure you have those on hand before you get started.

Of course, it’s always important to put your safety first. You’ll need to shut off the power to the disposal before you attempt any of the garbage disposal maintenance tips we’re going to discuss. You can either unplug the disposal or shut off the power at the circuit breaker.

A close-up of a drain and the garbage disposal splash guard.

Remove the Splash Guard

When learning how to clean and maintain your garbage disposal, keep in mind that you’ll want to start from the top and work your way down. Namely, you should start by cleaning the splash guard. The splash guard is the rubber flange that prevents water from splashing up and out into the sink when the disposal is running.

You can remove the splash guard quickly and easily. Once you’ve done this, you’ll want to thoroughly clean it with a toothbrush. Smaller pieces of food can stick to the underside of the guard, so check to make sure you don’t accidentally miss any food scraps.

While you have the splash guard disconnected, you can use a pair of tongs to remove any larger pieces of food from the disposal. You should never use your bare hands during this step for safety reasons.

A container of baking soda and a bottle of vinegar placed next to each other on a table.

Combine Vinegar & Baking Soda

Baking soda can work wonders for removing odors and eliminating waste from your garbage disposal. In fact, this combination of ingredients is known for its ability to remove all kinds of blockages from drains.

Pour one-half cup of baking soda down the disposal, quickly followed by one cup of vinegar. Let the mixture sit for an hour or longer. Flush the disposal with hot water from the tap.

This is one of the easiest and most convenient garbage disposal maintenance tips because there’s a good chance you have these ingredients waiting in your kitchen. If not, all that’s required is a quick trip to the grocery store!

A hand placing salt into a drain with a spoon.

Use Ice Cubes & Salt

Have you attempted the methods above but still think there’s food debris in the disposal? There’s no reason to worry. When learning how to clean and maintain your garbage disposal, it’s crucial to note that you may need to try various methods to see the best results.

Place a cup of rock salt and a generous amount of ice cubes in the disposal. Run the disposal with cold water for up to a minute; this should remove any leftover food particles, if there are any, and sharpen the blades at the same time.

Clopped lemons sitting on a pan. There is a knife on the pan.

Address Persistent Odors

If your disposal still has a strange, unpleasant smell, you might want to consider grinding up citrus peels. You can choose to chop up lemons or limes for this quick and easy trick. Of course, you won’t want to overload your disposal all at once. Place a few peels in the disposal at a time, and when you’re finished, run cold water to flush it clean.

Keep Your Drains Running Smoothly With Pure Plumbing & Air

It can be incredibly helpful to know how to clean and maintain your garbage disposal. This way, you can avoid a frustrating clog or smelly kitchen. Of course, there are many components of your kitchen plumbing system you should keep up-to-date with — including the sink drain. If you encounter a drain clog, don’t hesitate to contact Pure Plumbing & Air.

Our plumbing experts offer a wide range of services, which means we can assist you with everything from drain cleaning to a water heater installation in Las Vegas. Although you should avoid putting certain foods down your garbage disposal and drain, there may come a time when a problem appears unexpectedly. If that time comes, we’ll be ready to help.

Contact us today to learn about our Las Vegas drain cleaning services and more!