The care and maintenance surrounding garbage disposals is a controversial topic. Some experts swear by specific methods, whereas others argue against those same methods. One of the debates that arise from the swirling debate pool is that of ice in the garbage disposal.
Some folks argue that ice cleans the disposal while simultaneously sharpening the blades. Others caution against using ice in the garbage disposal, saying it’ll wreak the appliance. So, who’s right? Technically, both of these viewpoints are right to some degree, but we’ll get into that in detail later on.
How Should You Clean A Garbage Disposal?
Like everything else in your home, your garbage disposal requires cleaning every now and again. If you don’t clean it regularly, you’ll probably notice an unpleasant odor wafting from the drain. This is usually due to decomposing food particles that might remain in the disposal.
So, cleaning your garbage disposal is essential. Here are a few ways to go about cleaning the appliance.
Over time, the parts in your garbage disposal might become slimy and smelly. So, before you proceed with the following methods for cleaning the interior of the garbage disposal, scrub the exterior parts.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Dish soap
- Rubber gloves (as needed)
Start by turning off the power to the garbage disposal. This first part requires cleaning the baffle and the top of the grinding chamber, so cut the power to the disposal to stay on the safe side. Once the power is off, don your rubber cleaning gloves (if you’d like).
Next, saturate an abrasive sponge with warm water and a few drops of dish soap. Scrub the rubber baffle in the drain (black rubber piece at the top of the drain). Rinse the sponge frequently to get rid of the buildup.
Once you clean the baffle, move to the top of the grinding chamber. This is the area just below the baffle. Again, rinse the sponge frequently to wash away the gunk. Continue cleaning until the sponge doesn’t bring up more gunk.
Baking Soda And Vinegar
Aside from middle school science experiments, baking soda and vinegar are helpful tools in various cleaning projects. The combination of the two creates a reaction that bubbles and fizzes, loosening stuck-on gunk. The beauty of this method is its inherent simplicity.
Here’s what you need:
- Baking soda
- White vinegar
Start by pouring half a cup of baking soda down the drain. Follow up with a cup of white vinegar, then allow it to sit for ten minutes. The mixture will bubble and fizz, but let it do its thing. After ten minutes, turn on the garbage disposal while running hot water.
The hot water whisks away the baking soda residue in the canister, leaving you with a deodorized, clean garbage disposal.
After you eat or bake/cook with lemons or oranges, don’t throw away the peels. Instead, use them to freshen and deodorize your garbage disposal. You can’t toss long peels into the disposal, but chopped-up citrus peels work wonders.
Pour the chopped-up peels into the disposal, then turn it on while cold water runs. The peels release oil that leaves the disposal smelling fresh and clean. On top of that, your kitchen will have a lovely, fresh, and citrusy smell.
Ice is another option for cleaning your garbage disposal. Although adding ice to your garbage disposal is a somewhat controversial topic, experts say you can safely add ice to the disposal without any issues. You don’t need tons of ice; a medium-sized bowl of ice cubes should do the trick.
The ground ice chips are abrasive enough to act as tiny scrubbers that can reach the hard-to-clean areas of the disposal’s interior. However, ice won’t cut sharp odors by itself since it’s just frozen water.
This method works best when you add a gentle cleaning agent with the ice cubes, like a few chopped lemon peels, dish soap, baking soda, or lemon juice. Simply add a few drops of dish soap, a sprinkle of baking soda, or a ¼ cup of lemon juice with the ice, then run the disposal while you run cold water.
If you want to sanitize the disposal, freeze white vinegar in an ice cube tray. Pour the vinegar cubes into the drain, then follow the same steps. The vinegar will work as a sanitizer to remove odor-causing bacteria, leaving you with a clean garbage disposal.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Does Ice Sharpen The Garbage Disposal Blades?
No, ice won’t sharpen garbage disposal blades. Contrary to popular belief, ice doesn’t magically sharpen the blades. In fact, that isn’t how a garbage disposal works. Instead of sharp blades whipping around in the disposal to shred food, these appliances feature impellers.
The impellers are more blunt than sharp, so instead of chopping food like a blending, they crush and grind the food waste into tiny particles. So, ice won’t help that aspect of the disposal. While the cubes won’t sharpen the blades, they work wonderfully (alongside a deodorizing addition) to clean the disposal.
Can I Use Bleach To Clean My Garbage Disposal?
As a general rule of thumb, you should avoid pouring bleach down your drain, especially concentrated solutions. Bleach is a harsh mixture that can damage the blades and the following plumbing.
Instead of bleach, or almost any other chemical drain cleaner, use a more natural solution. Vinegar and baking soda are great alternatives to chemical drain cleaners and bleach. They’ll deodorize the unit and help loosen stuck, dried-on food left in the disposal.
However, if the disposal is particularly smelly and these methods don’t work, you can use diluted bleach. Use two parts of warm water to one part of bleach, but don’t use more than ⅓ cup of bleach. So, if you want to use the maximum amount of bleach, mix ⅓ cup of bleach with ⅔ cup of water.
Pour the mixture down the drain, then follow up with warm water. Run the disposal for 30 seconds while the warm (not hot) water runs.
How Do I Deodorize My Garbage Disposal?
Deodorizing your garbage disposal is simple. There’s no need to pour caustic chemical drain cleaners into the drain. Citrus peels are a great way to freshen the disposal naturally, but vinegar and baking soda are ideal if you want to deodorize and sanitize the disposal simultaneously.
Follow one of the methods we listed above to quickly and easily clean and deodorize your disposal without running to the store for a drain cleaner.