How to Clean a Kitchen Garbage Disposal?

A garbage disposal is like any other appliance in your kitchen. Thus, you must clean it regularly to ensure that it runs well at all times.

Failure to keep it clean can result in clogs and a buildup of harmful bacteria or mold. You could put your and your family’s life at risk because of negligence.

Therefore, here’s a comprehensive guide on how to clean a kitchen garbage disposal.

The guide also includes some tips on using your garbage disposal so that you can extend the appliance’s life.

Understanding Your Kitchen Garbage Disposal

A garbage disposal is a useful appliance in your kitchen sink that helps to grind food waste and make it suitable for your plumbing system.

Garbage disposals, like those offered by the popular brand InSinkErator, are designed to simplify the waste management process and keep your kitchen clean and odor-free.

The main components of a garbage disposal include the motor, grinding chamber, and impellers. The motor powers the system by rotating the impellers, which are small metal fins housed within the grinding chamber.

These impellers act to break down food waste into smaller particles that can flow easily through your sink’s drain and plumbing.

When you need to clean your kitchen garbage disposal, it is essential to understand how it works and how to do so safely.

Steps on How to Clean a Kitchen Garbage Disposal

Deep cleaning your kitchen garbage disposal is a relatively simple process. You won’t need specialized equipment or cleaning materials for the process.

You most likely have the natural ingredients (vinegar, baking soda, table salt, ice, and lemon peels) you need at home.

Avoid using chemical cleaners on your garbage disposal. Continued use of such harsh cleaners can corrode the metal parts.

Step 1. Cut Off the Power to the Garbage Disposal

It is vital that you cut off the power to the garbage disposal before doing anything else.

Turn off the switch and remove the plug from the outlet. The outlet is most likely under the sink.

You could also cut off the power by putting the correct circuit off in the breaker box.

Check if you turned off the correct circuit by trying to turn the garbage disposal on. If it turns on, then locate the correct switch.

As a result of this step, you won’t risk getting a terrible electrical shock while cleaning.

Also, if it turns on while working, it could cause severe injury. Moreover, inform your family not to turn on the breaker until you say so.

Step 2. Remove the Rubber Splash Guard

Remove the rubber splash guard (which is also called a baffle or a gasket) from the drain. The splash guard tends to collect grease and a lot of small food particles under it.

This is because the splash guard has many crevices and grooves. Therefore you will have to clean the rubber splash guard.

Step 3. Clean the Rubber Splash Guard

After the rubber splash guard is out, you will need to clean it thoroughly. You will need a scrubbing brush or a toothbrush and dish detergent for this process.

Avoid using a brush with metal bristles because that might damage the splash guard. Any small soft brush with nylon bristles will do.

Scrub the Splash Guard with the Brush

Srub the rubber splash guard well with the brush of your choice.

Make sure to focus on cleaning the underside of the splash guard thoroughly. That is where most of the slime and food particles tend to collect.

Step 4. Inspect the Garbage Disposal for Food Particles

After removing the splash guard, you will be able to inspect the garbage disposal.

Use a flashlight to get a good look at your disposal. You are likely to find some food particles that did not reach the grinder.

Step 5. Remove the Food Particles in the Garbage Disposal

Grab a pair of pliers or tongs and use that to remove any food particles visible in your garbage disposal.

Throw those food particles in the trash after removal.

Make sure not to use your fingers for this process, even if you’re struggling to reach some parts with your pliers.

The blades are sharp and will cut your hand even when it’s powered off and not moving.

Step 6. Measure Baking Soda and Dump It into the Garbage Disposal

You will need to measure the baking soda using a cup. Dump about a half cup of baking soda into the garbage disposal.

Leave the Baking Soda for It to Work

Let the baking soda sit for about 30 minutes. Baking soda removes any odors that may be present in your garbage disposal.

Step 7. Measure the Vinegar and Pour It into the Garbage Disposal

Measure about a cup of vinegar. Next, pour the vinegar into the garbage disposal. If there’s any baking soda left in the sink, pour the vinegar on those parts so nothing is wasted.

As soon as you pour the vinegar, it will react with the baking soda.

Therefore, there will be a foamy and bubbly liquid rising from the garbage disposal. This is normal, so let the reaction occur as is.

Don’t do anything to the liquid for at least 3 minutes. During this time, the mixture will remove food gunk present in areas you cannot reach.

Step 8. Flush the Mixture with Hot Water

After waiting, turn on your tap with the hot water on and flush the mixture.

The hot water will remove all traces of baking soda and vinegar from the garbage disposal.

If your kitchen does not have hot water in the tap, set a pot of water to boil on the stove. Carefully empty this pot of water into the garbage disposal.

Step 9. Use Ice and Salt to Scrub the Garbage Disposal

You won’t be able to clean the garbage disposal blades with your hands or any other tool.

So, you will have to rely on ice cubes and salt to take care of that.

Put the Garbage Disposal Together Again

You will need to restore the garbage disposal to full functionality to clean the blades.

Therefore, install the rubber splash guard in the correct position. Next, restore the power to the garbage disposal.

Make the Mixture of Ice and Salt

Fill two cups with ice cubes and pour the ice down the garbage disposal. Right after that, dump a cup of salt down the garbage disposal.

The salt will give the ice an abrasive texture needed to clean the blades well.

Turn on the Garbage Disposal

Let some cold water run from your tap so that the salt can reach the ice cubes in the garbage disposal.

Next, switch on the garbage disposal. When it grinds the ice cubes and salt, it will clean the blades too.

Step 10. Put Some Lemon Peels for a Fresh Scent

The last thing you’d want is for your kitchen to smell bad because of the garbage disposal. So, you can use lemon peels to create a fresh scent.

Any citrus fruit’s peels will suffice, but lemons are the most common choice.

All you have to do is cut up some lemon peels so that they’re nice and thin.

Next, put them in the garbage disposal and run some cold water. After that, turn the device on. The fresh scent will stay when it cuts up the peels.

Your kitchen garbage disposal will be clean and smelling fresh after this step.

Garbage Disposal Usage Tips to Ensure it Stays Clean and in Good Condition

Following a few practices when using your garbage disposal can keep it clean and in condition.

As a result, you won’t have to clean it frequently, and you can save money on repairs and replacements.

Run Water When Using the Garbage Disposal

You should run water before, during, and after turning on the garbage disposal.

The water helps flush the food particles, reducing the chances of food getting stuck in the disposal or the pipes.

Make sure to turn on cold water before you dump food in the disposal. Let the water keep running while the garbage disposal is grinding food.

Also, allow the water to continue running about 7 to 10 seconds after the disposal stops grinding.

Don’t Dump Coffee Grounds in the Garbage Disposal

Coffee grounds can block or damage your kitchen garbage disposal.

Therefore, do not dump the grounds in the garbage disposal. Instead, put your coffee grounds in a compost pile.

Don’t Put Fats, Oil, or Grease Into the Garbage Disposal

Fats, oil, or grease (FOG) can block your garbage disposal.

Therefore, don’t dump these foods into the garbage disposal. You should cool such foods first and then dispose of them in the trash.

These foods include coconut oil, peanut butter, butter, or bacon grease.

Avoid Using Chemical Drain Cleaners

You should not use any chemical drain cleaners or lye for cleaning your kitchen garbage disposal.

These cleaning materials can damage the metal parts in the garbage disposal.

Dump Ice Cubes and Salt Once to Twice a Week

You can keep your kitchen garbage disposal clean by simply following step 9 in the guide above.

By dumping ice cubes and salt, you’ll keep the blades clean, removing food debris from latching onto them.

In the long term, this practice will keep harmful bacteria from rotting food away from your kitchen.

Also, you won’t have to deep clean your garbage disposal frequently.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to eliminate garbage disposal odors?

To eliminate garbage disposal odors, you can use a combination of ice, baking soda, and lemon slices. Add ice cubes to the chamber, followed by baking soda and thin lemon slices.

Turn on the disposal and let it run for a minute or two. The ice, baking soda, and lemon will work together to break down food particles and neutralize unpleasant odors. 

What is the best way to unclog a disposal?

The best way to unclog a disposal is to first turn off the power and use a flashlight to inspect the drain for any visible obstructions. If the clog is within reach, use pliers or tongs to carefully remove the stuck item.

If the clog is further down, you may need to use a plumber’s snake or consult a professional plumber. Never use chemical drain cleaners, as they can damage your disposal.

How to use ice and baking soda for cleaning?

Using ice and baking soda for cleaning your garbage disposal is simple. First, turn off the disposal and faucet. Place six ice cubes in the chamber, followed by 1 tablespoon of baking soda.

Turn on the disposal while running cold water, and allow it to grind the ice and baking soda mixture. This procedure helps remove food particles and grime, while the baking soda deodorizes your disposal. 

How frequently should garbage disposals be cleaned?

Garbage disposals should be cleaned at least once a month, or more frequently if you notice unpleasant odors or poor performance. Regular cleaning helps maintain the effectiveness of your disposal and prevents buildup that could lead to clogs or damage.

What are effective garbage disposal cleaning pods?

Effective disposal cleaning pods are small, pre-measured packets that usually contain a blend of cleaning agents and fresheners. To use these pods, simply place one in your garbage disposal, turn on the water, and activate the disposal.

The pod will dissolve and clean your disposal while releasing a fresh scent. Some popular cleaning pods include Glisten Disposer Care and Plink Garbage Disposal Cleaner.

How to deep clean a disposal without removing it?

To deep clean your disposal without removing it, you can use a combination of methods. Start by running ice and baking soda through the disposal to break up any grime.

Then, lift the splash guard flaps and use an old toothbrush dipped in grease-cutting kitchen cleaner to scrub the inner surfaces. Rinse with cold water after you’ve finished scrubbing.

Last Few Words

A kitchen garbage disposal can last anywhere between 8 to 10 years.

However, you will have to take good care of it by cleaning it often and watching what foods you dump into it.

Also, stick to natural cleaners instead of chemical ones for better longevity.

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