How To Make A Garbage Disposal Smell Better

Although garbage disposals are handy appliances that help minimize food waste going to the landfill, they can become the root of a smelly problem. Perhaps you’ve noticed a rancid odor lingering in your kitchen, and even though you’ve emptied the trash and cleaned the kitchen, the smell persists. 

If the smell seems to waft from your kitchen sink, there’s a good chance it’s your garbage disposal. Eliminating these unpleasant odors isn’t tricky; all it’ll take is a bit of extra cleaning. Here’s how to tackle a stinky garbage disposal. 

Why Does My Garbage Disposal Stink?

The root cause of a stinky garbage disposal usually lies in the bottom of the canister or the drainpipes beneath the system. Although these systems do a great job of grinding food waste into tiny particles and shipping it out via your plumbing system, there are times when food can get caught. 

When food gets stuck in the bottom of the canister or drainpipes, it will eventually decompose. It can develop a pungent odor that wafts from your kitchen sink drain as it rots and decays. If left unchecked, food scraps clinging to the drain pipes or canister can build up to the point they become a problem. 

They can catch extra scraps as they whiz by, eventually causing the pipe or canister to become obstructed. Once the clog develops, addressing the issue can be trickier. So, it’s best to address the problem sooner rather than later so you can catch it before it becomes a larger issue.  

How Do You Deodorize A Garbage Disposal?

Deodorizing a smelly garbage disposal is a relatively simple process that usually takes a few minutes. You can choose to use a natural method or skip those options for the convenience of a pre-made cleaner. Here are a few of the most popular ways to eliminate offensive odors in your garbage disposal:

Baking Soda And Vinegar

These two common household ingredients create a powerful reaction that can address the toughest odors lingering in your drain. On top of that, this method is a natural solution to the problem, so if you prefer to avoid caustic cleaners, try this option. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar

Start by pouring ¼ cup of baking soda into the drain above the garbage disposal. After pouring the baking soda into the drain, follow with one cup of white vinegar. The combination of the two will create a bubbly reaction that helps rid the canister and drainpipes of the offensive odor. 

Let the reaction work for a few minutes, then run cold water through the garbage disposal. 

Salt And Ice

If you don’t have baking soda or vinegar on hand, use salt and ice. This method is quick and easy and helps scrape caked-on gunk that could be causing the issue from the sides of the garbage disposal canister. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Ice cubes
  • Rock salt or kosher salt

Pour a large cup of ice cubes into the garbage disposal canister, then turn it on. As it runs, add roughly ½ cup of kosher or rock salt. The combination is abrasive enough to scrub gunk from the sides of the canister. 

Let the disposal run until it grinds the ice, then rinse it with cool water for about a minute to ensure it is clear.

Citrus Peels

Citrus fruits, such as lemons, grapefruits, limes, and oranges, can help deodorize your garbage disposal and replace the powerful odor with a lovely citrus scent. The peels of these fruits are naturally acidic and contain antibacterial and antifungal oils, so they work great for dealing with unpleasant odors. Here’s what you’ll need for this method:

  • Oranges, grapefruits, lemons, or limes
  • Cutting board and knife or peeler

Peel the citrus fruit of your choice to remove the rind. If you’d like, you can use the fruit juices for something else first, then peel the rind off the fruit. Once you peel the rind off the fruit, chop it into smaller chunks on a cutting board. It’s important not to put long, curled peels in the garbage disposal, as they could get caught on the disposal’s impellers. 

After chopping the peels into smaller pieces, toss them into the garbage disposal. If you’d like, you can chop the fruit into chunks and throw the entire thing into the garbage disposal. Turn the disposal on while running cool water to ensure everything runs smoothly. 

Once the system finishes grinding the peels/fruit, turn it off. 


Although using concentrated bleach in your drain isn’t the best idea, diluted bleach can remove tough odors. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Bleach 
  • Water


  • Garbage disposal safe product with bleach

Dilute a few tablespoons of regular bleach in a few cups of water, then pour the mixture into the drain. Turn the disposal on and run cool water. If you decide to use a product containing bleach, ensure it’s safe to use on your garbage disposal. Then, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use. 

Prevention Is Key

Garbage disposals are designed for everyday use, but if you don’t properly maintain and clean them, you might encounter issues. So, to avoid troublesome problems like clogs or unpleasant odors, ensure you clean the disposal regularly and avoid foods that could cause a blockage. 

Clean the garbage disposal weekly or more often, depending on how often you use the appliance. Avoid tossing certain foods into the garbage disposal, as they can cause clogs. These foods include:

  • Fibrous fruits and vegetables, such as onions, corn husks, pumpkin innards, celery, banana peels, etc.
  • Meat scraps, cooked or uncooked
  • Oils and fats
  • Eggshells
  • Coffee grounds

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