How to Clean and Maintain Your Garbage Disposal

How to Clean and Maintain Your Garbage Disposal - Lee Company

Garbage disposals are one of the most commonly used kitchen appliances, and it’s easy to see why. They make quick work of a dirty job — getting rid of our food waste.

Although they’re pretty simple machines, they still need maintenance. Otherwise, they can easily become dirty, smelly, and clogged. Keep reading for tips on how to clean and maintain your garbage disposal.

What not to put down your garbage disposal

Think your garbage disposal can handle anything? Think again. While this machine is designed for chewing up food scraps, some items can’t be processed.

Putting the wrong things down your garbage disposal can damage it or cause the drain to clog. So before you scrape your plate into the sink, think about what’s happening there.

Here are some common items that you should never put down your garbage disposal:

  • Coffee grounds
  • Pasta noodles
  • Eggshells
  • Grease and oil
  • Fruit pits and seeds
  • Citrus skins and rinds
  • Corn husks
  • Potato peels
  • Seafood shells
  • Bones

If you’re unsure if something should go down the disposal, err on caution and throw it in the trash instead.

How to clean out a garbage disposal

Bad smells coming from your kitchen sink? Chances are, your garbage disposal is to blame. Fortunately, cleaning out a garbage disposal is pretty easy, and there are plenty of natural ways to do it:

Baking soda and vinegar

Pour one cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by one cup of white vinegar. Let it sit for 15 minutes, then flush with hot water while the garbage disposal runs.

Ice cubes and salt

Run cold water and turn on the disposal. Drop in a few ice cubes and let them hit the blades for 30 seconds. Then, shake in coarse salt and let the disposal run for another minute to grind it up. The ice will sharpen the blades, and salt will help clean the inside of the disposal.


If your garbage disposal smells bad, freshen it up with zesty citrus. The acidity in citrus fruits smells great and will help break down any gunk or buildup that’s causing odors. Remove the rind from a lemon, lime, or orange and drop pieces of it down the drain. Let the disposal run for a minute before flushing it with hot water.

With these natural methods, you can keep your garbage disposal running smoothly and smelling fresh! We recommend doing this every 2 weeks or so to prevent build-up and odors.

How to maintain a garbage disposal

In addition to regular cleaning, your garbage disposal needs occasional maintenance to keep it running properly. Fortunately, garbage disposal maintenance is pretty easy — just run it at least once daily. Running it often keeps the blades sharp and prevents rust and corrosion.

Over time the blades can become dull, which makes the appliance less effective at grinding up food scraps. So as we mentioned, you can easily sharpen the blades yourself with a few ice cubes and some coarse salt.

It’s also a good idea to occasionally check the plumbing beneath your sink to ensure everything is secure and there are no leaks.

What to do if your garbage disposal is clogged?

If you do end up with a clogged garbage disposal, don’t panic! It doesn’t always mean you need to call a plumber or replace the appliance. It might just take a little elbow grease to get things flowing again.

Here’s how to fix a garbage disposal that’s clogged

Step 1: Turn off the power to the disposal

You don’t want to get an electrical shock while trying to fix a clog!

Step 2: Check to see if there’s anything blocking the blades.

If you can look into the drain and see what’s causing the clog, try to remove it with a pair of tongs.

Step 3: Use a plunger

Sometimes, all you need is a little suction to dislodge the clog. Splash some water around the sink first to lubricate the plunger. Cover the drain and hold the plunger tight against the sink. Push and pull the plunger up and down to create suction and try to break up the clog.

Step 4: Use a plumber’s snake or wire hanger

If a plunger doesn’t do the trick, you might need to use a plumbing snake or a wire clothes hanger to reach the clog. Be careful not to scratch the surface of your sink!

Step 5: Check under the sink

Something might be caught in the trap beneath your sink if you’re still having trouble. Unscrew the P-trap and see if you can spot the clog there. You may also need to use a plumber’s snake to reach the clog.

Pro Tip: Avoid harsh chemicals

Chemical drain cleaners (like Drano) use corrosive acid to eat away at whatever is clogging your drain. Acids can also damage your pipes and plumbing fixtures and are dangerous to use.

Garbage disposal services

If you’ve tried all of these things and you’re still having trouble, it might be time to call a professional. At Lee Company, we can help clear clogged drains and repair or replace your garbage disposal so that you can return to your regular routine.

Give us a call today!