No matter how much you scrub, disinfect, and clean your kitchen, few things can spoil your efforts like a garbage disposal that, let’s be honest, doesn’t get cleaned or sanitized nearly often enough.
It may be tempting to overlook this kitchen workhorse, or throw a couple of tabs of commercial garbage disposal cleaner in and call it a day, but take caution – as your disposal churns, it can spray bacteria or harsh chemical cleaners out into your kitchen, undoing all of the careful work you’ve done cleaning and disinfecting your sink and countertops. But let a garbage disposal sit without being cleaned for too long, and before you know it there’s a rank, dank smell hovering over your sink.
So what’s to be done? Thankfully, cleaning your garbage disposal in a safe, sanitary, eco-friendly way is not only possible, it’s easy – and once you’re done, your kitchen will not only smell cleaner, it will be cleaner.
Let’s explore a few simple and environmentally friendly tips for getting the funk out of your garbage disposal in no time:
When using any of these methods, please always remember to put your safety first! Before placing your hand or any other object in a garbage disposal, make sure it is fully disconnected from its power source – either unplug the disposal or turn off the relevant circuit. Safely remove your hands and any objects, and then check to make sure the power is disconnected by hitting the switch that turns your disposal on. Avoid wearing jewelry or loose-fitting clothing.
1.) Ice, Ice, Baby: Using Ice and Salt to Clear Your Garbage Disposal
Ice – combined with rock salt, if you have it – will provide an abrasive assist in clearing food particles or other debris from the blades and sides of your garbage disposal.
First, clear your drain by plugging the disposal and filling your sink with about two inches of water. Then, unplug the sink, let the water flow down, and run the disposal until all the water has been drained. Cut power to the unit, and ensure that there are no large impediments lodged in your disposal by checking manually or using a flashlight to take a look at the disposal itself. A pair of needle nosed pliers or tongs and a flashlight should help you clear any large debris. Remember – make sure your garbage disposal is fully unplugged and deactivated before attempting any of this!
Once that’s done, restore power to the unit and place about a dozen ice cubes and half a cup of rock salt in the disposal, turn on a steady flow of warm water, and run the disposal until the ice and salt has been pulverized and cleared from the disposal. Use a flashlight to ensure that the blades and sides of the disposal are free of visible debris.
2.) Environmentally Friendly Cleaning Starts with Natural, Environmentally Friendly Cleaning Products
In addition to ice, there are plenty of other ways to clean out your garbage disposal with all-natural, green cleaning standbys – no harsh, dangerous chemicals required!
Vinegar and Baking Soda
Vinegar and baking soda don’t just make for a spectacular fourth-grade science project. Skip the food coloring, and you can use a mixture of white vinegar and baking soda to restore your disposal to pristine, odor-free working order.
Add about half a cup of baking soda and one cup of vinegar to your disposal, and leave the mixture to foam and do its work for about 15 minutes. This formula will kill any bacteria residing in the nooks and crannies of your disposal, leaving it not only cleaned, but sanitized. After 15 minutes, thoroughly rinse the disposal by plugging the drain, filling the sink about halfway with warm water, adding about a tablespoon of dishwashing liquid to the water, and running the disposal while the water drains out.
DIY Garbage Disposal “Bombs”
For in-between cleaning, when you don’t want to spend 15 minutes waiting for the vinegar and baking soda mixture to do its thing, having handy disposal-cleaning “bombs” on hand can make a quick disposal refresh a snap.
You can make your own disposal-cleaning tabs at home, and keep them on hand for quick cleaning any time the rising smell from your disposal lets you know that it needs a refresh.
For one easy solution, mix about one cup of baking soda, 1/2 cup of salt, a tablespoon of dishwashing liquid, and enough water to make a mixture about the texture and consistency of wet sand. Add whatever scent you prefer to maximize the deodorizing power of the tabs; one go-to method is to add some lemon zest, but you can add a few drops of your favorite essential oils or some dried crushed leaves of lavender or eucalyptus.
Once the ingredients have been thoroughly combined, scoop them out and shape them with a measuring spoon on a piece of parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet. Dry overnight, and store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Place one or two of these tabs in and run the disposal with water any time the disposal starts to smell a bit funky for a whole-room deodorizer that also cleans and sanitizes.
If you don’t want to go through the trouble of mixing and creating your own cleaner, there are plenty of environmentally friendly, effective cleaning solutions on the market. When shopping for a disposal cleaner, be sure to check the label to ensure that you’re purchasing a product that is environmentally friendly, and avoid products that contain acidic compounds or phosphates, which can damage your disposal or plumbing.
When you’re in a pinch, an environmentally friendly standby beloved by generations is to use citrus peels to deodorize the garbage disposal. Simply stuff a few frozen or fresh citrus peels into the garbage disposal; you could use the peel of one large lemon, a few small limes,, or even the skin of a grapefruit.
Grind the peel with some cold water from the faucet. The oils in the peels will release their fruity scent all over the interior of your disposal. However, be aware that this is best used in combination with other cleaning methods, as it may not fully break down all the slimy spots that have built up in the disposal. You should also use your best judgment as to whether your disposal blades will be up to the task of pulverizing those peels fully and effectively.
3.) Don’t Neglect the Exterior Pieces
While your favorite eco-friendly solution is working away inside your disposal, you’ll have an opportunity to clean the outside rim, rubber baffle, and your drain plug, all of which can harbor odor-causing bacteria.
Using a small bowl, mix just enough baking soda and vinegar to create a thick paste. Using a small cleaning brush (a toothbrush dedicated to the purpose works great), apply the paste and scrub any visible parts of the drain, baffle (you can pull the baffle inside-out to make sure you’re scrubbing both sides), and drain-stopper. Allow the mixture to sit on these parts for at least 5-10 minutes, before filling the sink with water as outlined above. You can also wipe down the sides of your garbage disposal unit with a clean cloth and your favorite all-purpose cleanser.
Looking for Hands-On Kitchen Cleaning Help? We’re Here for You
The kitchen is no doubt one of the trickiest areas of the home, and the room where it’s most important to get safe, effective cleaning right. You don’t have to tackle this project alone! The professionals at Sweeping Dimensions bring old school professionalism and customer service alongside new school cleaning techniques, so you always get the best possible results for your Chicago home!
At SDCS, we train our cleaning crews to the highest possible standards. We’re known throughout the city and suburbs for our care, professionalism, and attention to detail. Our teams offer flexible time windows, unparalleled customer service, and our signature guarantee — if you don’t like any aspect of our service the first time, we’ll tackle your job again, no questions asked.
We’ve got every aspect of your kitchen and whole-home cleaning covered! We bring all of the products needed to refresh your space, with a focus on green, environmentally sound cleaning supplies. We know that the more people we can bring together in our mission for a greener world, the better off all of us will be! So, if you ever have a question about comparing cleaning products, or making a green switch in your home, don’t hesitate to get in touch – I am always happy to talk shop! At SDCS, we are sincerely passionate about these issues, dedicated to finding real solutions, and always eager to keep the conversation going.
Ready to get in touch? Curious just what sets Sweeping Dimensions apart? I’m here to chat! Contact us today for your FREE service estimate!