kitchen garbage disposal

How to Clean a Garbage Disposal: Expert Tips for Keeping Your Disposal Clean and Odor-Free

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Is your garbage disposal starting to emit unpleasant odors? Don’t worry, cleaning it is a simple task you can do on your own.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to clean your garbage disposal from the pros at Upstairs Downstairs!

Types of Garbage Disposals

There are two main types of garbage disposals: batch feed disposal systems and continuous feed disposal systems. Each type has its own unique characteristics and maintenance requirements.

Batch Feed

Batch feed disposal systems are designed to be safer because they require a special stopper to activate the grinding mechanism. This reduces the risk of accidental injury. However, batch feed disposals can be more prone to clogs due to their slower operation.

Continuous Feed

Continuous feed disposal systems are more common and convenient. They allow for continuous operation, meaning you can keep adding food waste while the disposal is running. This makes them quicker and easier to use.

Continuous feed disposals are less likely to experience clogs, but it’s still important to be mindful of what you put down the drain.

How a Garbage Disposal Works

At the heart of a garbage disposal is a powerful electric motor that drives the grinding mechanism. When you turn on the disposal, it activates a turntable that spins rapidly. This turntable is equipped with impellers or lugs that are responsible for grinding the food waste into a slurry.

how garbage disposal works

As the turntable spins, the food waste is forced against a stationary grind ring that has sharp edges. This grind ring pulverizes the food waste into tiny particles. The resulting slurry is then flushed down the drain, leaving behind a clean and clear disposal.

Having a clear understanding of how a garbage disposal works can help you maintain and troubleshoot any issues that may arise. Remember to always exercise caution and follow the manufacturer’s instructions when dealing with your garbage disposal.

Signs You Should Clean Your Garbage Disposal

If you notice a foul odor coming from your sink or hear unusual noises when the disposal is running, it’s a clear indication that it’s time for some cleaning.

slow or noisy drain

Additionally, if the disposal is draining slowly or you notice an increase in food particles or debris being left behind after grinding, these are also signs that it needs a good cleaning.

Neglecting the maintenance of your garbage disposal can lead to clogs, breakdowns, and even the growth of bacteria. Therefore, it is important to know the warning signs and practice safe sink hygiene to keep everything in good working order.

Steps to Safely Clean Your Garbage Disposal

Your garbage disposal is a hardworking appliance in your kitchen. With a few simple steps, you can safely clean your garbage disposal and keep it running like new. You’ll want a flashlight and some basic cleaning supplies.

1. Turn Off Power

Before you begin cleaning your garbage disposal, it’s important to turn off the power source. You can do this by unplugging it or flipping the circuit breaker. This will prevent dangerous accidents during cleaning.

2. Clean Splash Guard

The rubber splash guard of your garbage disposal can easily become a breeding ground for food residue and grease, as they can get trapped in its grooves and crevices. Simply use a scrub brush or toothbrush with dish soap and warm, soapy water to scrub the splash guard. Don’t forget the underside of the rubber guard.

3. Remove Visible Debris

Using a utensil like a brush or chopstick, carefully dislodge any large food scraps or debris that may be stuck inside the disposal. Be cautious and avoid placing your hand near the blades to prevent injury.

4. Grind Up Salt and Ice

To remove any debris caught deeper in the blades and teeth, you can grind up a generous amount of ice cubes. The ice shards and cold water will help push out stubborn gunk. To increase the effectiveness, cover your ice cubes in regular table salt for extra grit.

Here’s another ice cube cleaning hack!

5. Clean with Natural Solutions

There are many natural solutions you can use to clean your garbage disposal. One effective method is using a mixture of white vinegar and baking soda. Start by pouring half a cup of baking soda into the disposal, followed by half a cup of vinegar. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes to help break down any stubborn food particles.

6. Flush with Hot Water

After the vinegar and baking soda mixture has had time to work, flush the disposal with hot water for a few minutes. This will help to wash away any remaining debris and leave your disposal clean and fresh.

7. Finish with Citrus Peels

For a final touch, you can place a few citrus peels, such as lemon or orange, into the disposal. Turn on the warm water and run the disposal to grind up the peels. This will not only help to freshen up the disposal but also leave a pleasant citrus scent.

By following these steps and performing regular cleaning and maintenance, you can ensure that your garbage disposal remains clean, odor-free, and in good working condition for years to come.

Avoid Putting Some Foods in Your Garbage Disposal

While garbage disposals are super convenient for quickly disposing of lots of leftovers, they aren’t indestructible black holes that can erase anything. Below is a list of food and kitchen items to toss in the trash rather than down the drain:

  • Grains and pasta
  • Coffee grounds
  • Large bones
  • Nuts, seeds, and shells
  • Plant fibers and membranes
  • Egg shells
  • Potato peels
  • Grease, fat, or oil
  • Paper and plastic

Garbage disposal components are tough, but not invincible. They can handle the occasional chicken bone, egg shell, or assorted nut, but don’t make a habit of wearing down your disposal with hard food items. And, of course, avoid dropping utensils or other hard items in the drain with the disposal on.

avoid stringy or sticky food

Additionally, common sense items like bacon grease and paper towel are no safer in a garbage disposal than a regular drain. Cooking byproducts like these and stringy or sticky foods like banana peels or potato peels have a habit of getting stuck to the walls of the drain and even disposal unit, leading to blockages.

Not everything that passes through the disposal gets pulverized completely, and unclogging a drain with a disposal can be even more difficult than a regular one!

Maintenance Tips to Keep Garbage Disposals Clean

It is best not to wait for a problem to arise before cleaning your sink and practicing good plumbing hygiene. If you notice something wrong (like the warning signs above), don’t wait for it to get worse!

Maintenance Tips to Keep Garbage Disposals Clean

Visually inspecting your garbage disposal on a regular basis is also a good idea to catch issues early. Regular cleaning is also never a bad idea to prevent bacteria buildup.

If you want help cleaning your garbage disposal, kitchen, or entire home, the pros at Upstairs Downstairs are only a phone call away!

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