Tips to Keep Your Garbage Disposal Running Efficiently

Jun 20 , 2017

Tips to Keep Your Garbage Disposal Running Efficiently

Garbage disposals help keep your kitchen clean and running efficiently by grinding up food scraps into small enough pieces to wash down your drain without causing clogs. This handy appliance reduces trash and pests associated with food scraps.

Consider features like a powerful motor for a bigger family or one that makes less noise if you have young ones you don’t want to wake. Most importantly, find one that fits under your sink properly.

Most household garbage disposals have one speed to dispose of food waste. Disposals can quickly and efficiently grind most everyday food wastes, including leftover meats, vegetables, and fruits.

To make sure the blades of the garbage disposal are operating smoothly, keep them sharp. Sharpening the garbage disposal blades can be done by placing a handful of ice cubes in the disposal while it is off, and then dropping slices of lemon, lime, or orange with the skin still attached and run the cold water and the disposal for at least one minute.

You’ll get the best performance out of your appliance if you follow a few simple steps when using it to keep it clean and smelling fresh.

Simple Steps for Use

Run a steady stream of cool water into the sink before turning on the garbage disposal. Don’t use hot water while grinding food. You can run hot water down the drain after you’ve finished grinding food particles.

Turn it on before placing any food waste into the appliance. Avoid filling the disposal with too much food waste at one time. Instead, feed waste into the disposal gradually.

Most importantly, never place any fats, oils or grease down the disposal. Those particles can collect inside the pipes and cause plumbing issues. Once grinding is complete, turn off the disposal and let the water run for 10-15 seconds to flush the drain pipe.

Keep It Clean with a Schedule

A dark, wet environment with scraps of food hanging around is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Keeping bacteria away from your sink and food prep area is vital to protect your family’s health. A garbage disposal is mostly self-cleaning if you follow some simple operating instructions and give it a quick scrub occasionally. Avoid harsh cleaners that can damage the unit and keep it spic and span and environmentally friendly with just a few common cleaners from your pantry. Use this handy guide to schedule recurring dates on your calendar to give it a good scrub.


Once a Week

The place to start cleaning is the black rubber splashguard that sits in the collar of the disposal. Pull it out, spray it with some vinegar or dish soap, scrub the underneath and the sink collar with a stiff brush or sponge, and rinse it clean of any residue. The vinegar decontaminates the baffle without damaging the rubber, like bleach might. Do this once a week to make sure the food particles don’t grow into a bacterial soup.

Every Two Weeks

Throw a few ice cubes in and grind them up while running cold water to clean the grinder. The ice will melt as it cleans the grind chamber and will help flush any remaining food waste. Adding a little rock salt to the cubes as they’re grinding will give the ice cubes a bit more scrubbing power.

Every Four Weeks

For a more thorough cleaning, you have a legitimate excuse for a fun chemistry experiment.
Sprinkle a half-cup of baking soda into the disposal, then add one cup of white vinegar. Let the mixture bubble up like a volcano in a science experiment and then sit for fifteen minutes. Leaving it longer won’t clean it any more thoroughly. Pour boiling water into the unit to loosen stubborn particles. Finish it off by running a strong stream of cold water, then turn on the disposal to clear the unit and flush the drain.

For a one-stop solution, you can purchase a commercial disposal cleaning packet. Pour the contents of the packet in the disposal, turn on the cold water, and run the disposal. The foaming cleanser is gentle but effective at scrubbing away any food or build-up.

Banish Bad Smells


If your garbage disposal has a bad odor, you can neutralize the smell by grinding a section of a lemon, lime, or orange. Simply cut the fruit into wedges, turn the disposal on, and put the wedges down, one at a time, along with a steady stream of cool water. The fruit rinds will help to clean the grind components while the citrus scent will provide a fresh smell. This technique keeps the grinding area smelling fresh, and the natural acidity helps suppress the bacterial growth associated with odors.

For Tougher Stubborn Smells

Hot water and dish soap can be remarkably effective at getting rid of stubborn smells. Stop up the sink with the plug stopper, add a generous squirt of dish soap, and run hot water into the sink until half full. Pull the sink stopper to release the soap and water mixture, and turn on the disposal. The entire sink will fill the unit as it drains and will reach the upper portions of the unit, which don’t often get cleaned by other methods. It also flushes the disposal drain line of any food residue or odor-causing bacteria.


No matter how much you invest in your garbage disposal, it’s important to keep it clean so your kitchen is free of foodborne hazards. Treat the appliance well when you use it, and it will remain sparkling clean and odor-free. With proper care, most garbage disposals have a lifespan of about seven years.