Like many homeowners, you might depend on your garbage disposal to help with daily kitchen cleanup. You can send food scraps down the drain and grind them away, making cleanup a breeze. Sometimes, though, it’s a good idea to turn your cleaning attention toward the garbage disposal itself. Learn how to clean your garbage disposal so that you can get into the habit of doing this chore regularly.

Why Clean Your Garbage Disposal

When food goes down your garbage disposal, remnants still remain. Instead of getting washed down the drainpipe, some of the pieces may get trapped around the grinders or the splash guard. Additionally, some foods will leave a residue that does not readily wash away by running water.

Since food remnants are organic materials, they’ll decay over time. As food decays, this provides a breeding ground for bacteria and other microbes. Mold or mildew might start to grow in your garbage disposal. Mold and mildew aren’t good for your health, and they can also produce terrible smells. Plus, scraps that accumulate in your garbage disposal can lead to clogs. A clogged sink can keep you from accomplishing your work in the kitchen.

Instead of running the risk of clogs or odors, resolve to clean your disposal regularly. It’s a good idea to add a quick cleaning session to your weekly household routine and perform deep cleanings as needed.

How to Clean the Top of Your Garbage Disposal

Anytime you’re cleaning the garbage disposal, be sure to cut the power to the appliance. Don’t just turn off the switch; make sure there’s no way for the disposal to turn on. You can do that by unplugging the appliance or turning off the corresponding circuit breaker.

Once the power has been cut, you can start cleaning the top portion of your garbage disposal that includes the drain area, the rubber baffle and the top of the grinding chamber.

Use a sponge that has a rough surface for scrubbing. Get your sponge wet and sudsy with dish soap. Start scrubbing around the drain. Work your way down to the baffle and scrub its topside and its underside thoroughly. Reach under the baffle — but not toward the grinders — and run the sponge around the top of the chamber. Don’t forget to rinse the sponge often as you work and add more soap if needed.

Your baffle may be removable. If so, taking it out can give you better access to all the nooks and crannies where gunk might be hiding.

You should also shine a light into your garbage disposal. If you see any large pieces of food or other foreign objects, reach in with tongs to grab them. Never reach into the garbage disposal with your hand.

How to Deep Clean Your Garbage Disposal

While the soap and water will be effective for cleaning the top portion of your garbage disposal, it’s a good idea to occasionally clean the rest of the unit. A deep cleaning will freshen both the chamber and the grinders.

One of the easiest ways to clean inside the garbage disposal chamber involves boiling water. Heat a pot of water on the stove until the water reaches a boil. Then, carefully dump the hot water down the drain.

Clean your garbage disposal with boiling water once a month. In addition, deep clean your garbage disposal with a vinegar and baking soda mixture and clean the blades with ice.

You can use vinegar and baking soda mix to lift away some of the gunk that has built up inside your appliance. Dump 1/2 cup of baking soda down the disposal and follow it up with twice as much vinegar. Put the sink stopper over the opening and wait for at least 10 minutes. Then, remove the stopper and rinse the disposal with a steady stream of hot water.

Ice is also a handy tool when it comes to keeping your garbage disposal clean. Grinding ice will produce abrasive chips that can scrape away residue that is stuck to the blades. To clean your garbage disposal with ice, you’ll need to restore power to your unit. After that, dump ice into the disposal — enough to mostly fill the chamber. Top it off with 1 cup of vinegar or 1 cup of rock salt. Turn on the cold water tap and then flip the switch to power on the disposal. Leave the unit running until the ice has been completely ground.

How to Improve Garbage Disposal Odors

Sometimes, even a deep cleaning won’t take away serious garbage disposal odors. You may need to perform additional cleaning steps to deal with those.

Bleach can help, but you should never pour undiluted bleach down your disposal. Doing so could damage the unit’s parts. Instead, dilute household bleach with warm water. Use 1/4 or 1/3 cup of bleach and add twice as much water. Rinse the disposal thoroughly with fresh water after dumping in the bleach solution.

Citrus fruit is a handy odor-buster as well. After eating orange slices with your dinner or squeezing lemon into a glass of water, reserve the peels. Put them into the disposal, turn it on, and run cold water until the peels have been thoroughly ground.

What to Do About Serious Garbage Disposal Problems

While regular cleaning is important, it’s no match for professional garbage disposal care. You may need to call a plumber to solve your serious garbage disposal issues.

When your garbage disposal unit is totally clogged, putting ice or vinegar down the drain probably won’t take care of the problem. Fortunately, a plumber can safely and effectively clear the clog and get your appliance back in working order.

Regular cleaning may keep your disposal in good shape for many years. Eventually, though, you might get to the point where it no longer works as well and starts to leave behind more food particles. Also, unpleasant odors may often waft out of the disposal, even if you deodorize it regularly. Most garbage disposals last for 10 to 12 years. As you approach the end of a normal disposal life span, you may notice such issues developing more frequently.

It may be time to replace your garbage disposal instead of trying to clean it continuously. Professional plumbers will do the best job of installing a new garbage disposal. You can count on the job to be done safely and for the connections to be tight and leak-free.

Once you have a new garbage disposal, be sure to maintain a regular cleaning routine by implementing the above methods. A cleaning routine will keep your system in top shape for a long time to come.

If you are searching for top-quality plumbers who are committed to excellence, look no further than Anchor Plumbing Services. In addition to garbage disposals, we provide a wide array of plumbing services. If you reside in San Antonio or a surrounding area, call Anchor Plumbing Services for help with your toilets, faucets, sewer lines, drains, gas lines and more.

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