How To Clean Your Garbage Disposal

The garbage disposal is often one of the hardest working appliances in the kitchen, but can easily be forgotten about in terms of maintenance and cleaning. If you don’t regularly clean your disposal, it can get backed up after too much junk goes down the sink over time.

You really want to clean it to prevent a stinky mess or slimy build-up. Like anything in your home, the cleaner it is, the more likely it will last you for a long time. But, how do you clean it exactly? Here’s a step-by-step guide to cleaning your garbage disposal, however works best for you.

Clean With Soap

Take a soapy sponge, and clean the top area that doesn’t hit the actual blade. If you have a two-part disposal, take the top part out and clean the underneath area that collects all the junk. If not, use a soap sponge, and clean the top area right under the runner (making sure that the disposal is not on and will not be turned on).

Clean With Baking Soda

Baking soda and vinegar will also do the trick. Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda into the garbage disposal, then pour 1/2 cup of vinegar into the disposal. It will start to bubble and fizz—let this continue for a few minutes. Then rinse with hot water while running the disposal.

Clean With Ice and Vinegar

Instead of baking soda and vinegar, you can also use ice and vinegar. Fill the disposal with ice cubes, then pour one cup of vinegar into the disposal. Run the disposal with the water turned on, so the ice gets all around in there and dislodges any buildup.


Many people think grinding citrus peels helps clean the disposal, but the jury is still out on that. The oil in the citrus peel definitely deodorizes and adds a nice smell, but it probably doesn’t dislodge any of the gunk down there.

Be Careful What You Throw Out

Don’t put just anything down the disposal. Generally, fruit and vegetable scraps are fine to throw down. But don’t load the disposal with starchy items, like pasta, rice or beans, produce pits, egg shells, coffee grinds, or seafood shells. Those can lead to more clogs and a mess.

Avoid non-food items or super greasy foods, too. The extra grease from making gravy, bacon, and ground beef doesn’t belong down the garbage disposal. This substance may be liquid when it’s hot, but as it cools it solidifies into a gelatinous glob. As you can imagine, this is bad news for your plumbing. To properly dispose of grease or oil, pour it into an old can or jar and throw it in the trash.

Never put anything you wouldn’t eat down the drain, either. This includes twist ties, rubber bands, string, cigarette butts, and plant clippings. These items don’t break down in the disposal, allowing them to clog the sink. The same goes for hard materials, which the disposal blades can’t handle, including turkey bones and fruit pits.

Lastly, be careful with cleaners. Drain opener, lye, and other chemical cleaners are not appropriate for the kitchen sink. If the drain becomes clogged and the disposal isn’t helping, call a plumber for professional assistance.

Maintenance Tips

  1. Use cold water when grinding food waste. If you have any grease or fat, the cold water will cause it to solidify so it can be ground up and disposed of safely. If you use hot water, it will liquefy it and wash it down into the drain where it will then solidify again and possibly block your drain. The cold water can also help the motor from overheating.
  2. Always have the water running when the motor is on. When grinding is complete, turn off the garbage disposal and let the water run for at least another 15 seconds to flush out any remaining particles
  3. Clean your disposal regularly. If you use it often, we suggest cleaning at least every other week or once per month.
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