How To Clean & Deodorize A Garbage Disposal

Last week I cleaned my porcelain kitchen sink and when I was done it looked almost brand new again! The only problem was that the little rubber gasket on the drain was still kinda gross, and the garbage disposal was smelling a bit. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to clean a garbage disposal and deodorize it; it only took me about ten minutes and some cleaning supplies I already had in my kitchen!

How to clean and deodorize your garbage disposal with baking soda, vinegar, ice, and lemon

I clean the sink all the time because porcelain sinks tend to get scuffs and stains pretty easily, but it never really occurs to me to clean the garbage disposal until it starts to smell. Once I actually started cleaning, I was horrified at all the gunk I found trapped in the gasket and disposal, GROSS! So if you have a garbage disposal and you haven’t cleaned it recently, I definitely recommend cleaning it, even it if hasn’t started to smell yet!

How To Clean & Deodorize A Garbage Disposal

Here’s what you need:

  • ½ C baking soda
  • 1 C white vinegar
  • a lemon
  • ice cubes
  • an old toothbrush
  • dish soap
  • sink stopper (optional)

Here’s what the kitchen sink drain looked like before. You can see some gunk on top of the rubber gasket in this photo, but the really gross part is lurking underneath, out of sight. So if you look at your sink and think “Oh mine is just fine, not gross at all!”, think again! If you’ve ever run your garbage disposal, there’s probably some gunk built up under the gasket. 🙂

How to clean and deodorize your garbage disposal - clean a dirty garbage disposal

Step 1: Loosen up the gunk and deodorize

The first step is to loosen up the grime and gunk in the drain and garbage disposal, and kill some of the odors lurking in there. Dump the baking soda down the drain, but don’t turn the water on to flush it down. If a bunch of it gets caught on the rubber gasket, use your fingers or a spoon to try to push most of it down into the actual garbage disposal.

How to clean and deodorize your garbage disposal - pour baking soda into garbage disposal

If you have a sink stopper, grab it and have it handy for this next part. Pour the vinegar down the drain, and immediately stopper up the sink with the sink stopper. Vinegar and baking soda react with each other and fizz all over the place (remember those volcanoes you made as a kid?!), and the reaction will help loosen up the gunk in the disposal, so you want to contain it in the actual disposal itself if you can, rather than let it bubble back up into the sink basin.

How to clean and deodorize your garbage disposal - add vinegar and baking soda to garbage disposal

Vinegar and baking soda will help eliminate odors as well, so once you’ve stoppered up the sink, just walk away and leave everything to sit for about ten minutes. Once ten minutes has passed, come back and remove the sink stopper.

Step 2: Clean out all the gunk

The next part is the SUPER gross part, so wear gloves if you don’t want to get your hands messy!

Take an old toothbrush and start scrubbing the rubber gasket and drain. Scrub all the parts you can see, then reach into the drain, lift up the gasket, and scrub the underside of the gasket and the surrounding drain parts under the gasket.

How to clean and deodorize your garbage disposal - clean gunk with an old toothbrush

Every once in a while, rinse off the toothbrush and run some water down the drain to wash away the gunk. Keep scrubbing until the toothbrush comes back mostly clean. Then put a bit of dish soap onto the toothbrush and give the whole area one more scrub, making sure the soap lathers up everywhere (on top of the gasket, under the gasket, and in the metal parts of the drain and disposal itself). Once you’re done, give everything another rinse to wash away all the soap.

Step 3: Sharpen the garbage disposal blades and freshen

Now that everything is all clean, all that’s left to do is to sharpen the blades and freshen everything up!

Cut up a lemon into eighths and put the chunks of lemon and a bunch of ice cubes down the drain and into the disposal.

How to clean and deodorize your garbage disposal - put lemons and ice down the drain to sharpen the blades and freshen the scent

Turn the garbage disposal on and let it run for a minute or so. Keep putting the lemon pieces down the drain with more ice cubes until the lemon is all gone. The ice will help sharpen the blades on the garbage disposal, and the lemon will make everything smell fresh and clean! (NOTE: You don’t have to use a whole lemon for this project. I juiced the entire lemon for a recipe we were making for dinner, and then just cut up what was left over; you can even just cut up a lemon rind if you’ve used the entire lemon for something else.)

Now your garbage disposal is totally clean and ready to go!

Learn how to clean and deodorize your garbage disposal with baking soda, vinegar, ice, and lemon

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Jessi Wohlwend

I believe that anyone can do crafts and DIY projects, regardless of skill or experience. I love sharing simple craft ideas, step by step DIY project tutorials, cleaning hacks, and other tips and tricks all with one goal in mind: giving you the tools you need to “do it yourself”, complete fun projects, and make awesome things!

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Reader Interactions

  1. Audrey says

    7 years ago

    Wow! This garbage disposal cleaning thing was definitely overdue at my house! Worked great!

  2. Vicki Betz says

    8 years ago

    Thank you so much for all these ideas gona try this microwave in morning.

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