Professional Cleaning Services Call Now SLC (801) 485-7040 or PC (435) 640-4391
Professional Cleaning Services Call Now SLC (801) 485-7040 or PC (435) 640-4391

How to Deal with a Smelly Garbage Disposal

Blog Highlight:

  • Most bad odors in the kitchen are caused by a dirty garbage disposal
  • Almost all garbage disposals work the same way
  • Garbage disposal does not have knife-like blades, the have impeller blades instead
  • The garbage disposal needs a lot of water to function properly
  • You can use ice cubes and small chunks of lemon to clean and deodorize your garbage disposal

If your kitchen stinks, it’s probably not because someone is cooking something smelly.

There is a good chance that these odors are coming from the garbage disposal. This is simply because most people don’t even think about cleaning it until they start to smell something foul and sour in the kitchen.

Knowing how it works

Almost all garbage disposals work the same way. These appliances have an upper hopper chamber where food, debris, and water from the dishwasher go down to. It also has a lower hopper chamber where the water and the slurry of food and debris get pushed into the drain.

What most people fail to understand is that the garbage disposal does not actually have knife-like blades that chop-up the food and debris. Instead of having blades, the garbage disposal has a flywheel or plate that has slits in it. At the top of this plate is where little impeller blades are located. These blades mash the debris and allow the slurry to go through its holes or slits. While a propeller pushes, an impeller works by pulling things through it.

As soon as the food and debris gets liquefied and mashed, it goes through the slits where it collects into the bottom hopper so that it can go down the drain. This action is done with the help of the pull of gravity as well as with the help of the impeller working properly.

This is the main reason why it is very important for homeowners to never put anything in the garbage disposal that will not dissolve or breakup easily. Many fibrous items like celery and banana peels, as well as things that clump easily like potato peels or rice should never be put into the disposal.

How should it be cleaned?

Cleaning the garbage disposal can be very easy. Here’s how you can do it:

1.  Turn it on and let the faucet run cold water.

2. Get 2-4 trays of ice and empty it directly into the sink. Let the disposal process the ice as quickly as possible. Doing so will freeze debris and it will cause chunks of it to go into the impeller blades and out of it slits.

3. As soon as the last cube of ice has been processed by the disposal, turn on the water for a full minute.

4. If the disposal still smells bad, you can chop up a lemon and feed it into the disposal. Just make sure that the lemon has been chopped properly. Most impeller blades can easily process small chunks of tough lemon peel without any trouble.

5. After feeding small chunks of lemon into the disposal, you can use a biodegradable drain cleaning product to get rid of the strong odors that still linger. Never use drain cleaners that are made of fine sand and bleach, these and other caustic products can corrode your garbage disposal and cut its life in half.

What to do with disposal jams?

The first thing you need to do if your disposal gets clogged is to check if you can spin it freely.

You can use an Allen wrench on the flywheel hole at the bottom of the unit. This is where the reset button of the disposal is located.
If the unit can spin freely and the disposal side of the sink is clogged, but the opposite side is able to drain, then the clog is probably located in the pipes immediately below the sink where it connects with the disposal. The pipes need to be removed and cleaned thoroughly.
It is also very important to remember that garbage disposals need lots of water to function properly. You should run the water before, during, and after feeding food and debris into the disposal.

Most professional plumbers say that garbage disposals rarely get clogged when they are used properly. It is even possible for homeowners to extend their life for years through maintenance.

The moment you start to smell something foul from your kitchen, try to smell your sink first so that you will be able to check if there is a problem with your garbage disposal unit.

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