How to Clean a Garburator/Garbage Disposal


Patrick asked: How do I clean a garburator? I want to get rid of an odor and sanitize it.

Garburators, or garbage disposals, help us to rid our kitchens of unwanted food waste. When food particles are left to sit in the disposal, it provides the perfect moist home for mold and bacteria to grow. Over time, this growth of mold and bacteria creates an unpleasant odor. It is recommended that the garburator be cleaned weekly to maintain a clean, healthy disposal.

Removing Odors with Vinegar and Baking Soda

You Will Need:

  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Tea kettle or sauce pan
  • Stove

Steps to Clean the Disposal:

  1. Pour a half of a cup of baking soda into the garbage disposal.
  2. If you have a double sink, plug the other sink.
  3. Slowly add one cup of vinegar to the garbage disposal. When it hits the baking soda, it will begin to fizz. This is the result that you want.
  4. Cover the drain with a plug.
  5. While the baking soda and vinegar are fizzing and cleaning, fill a tea kettle or saucepan with water.
  6. Heat the water to boiling.
  7. Once the water is boiling, carefully pour it down the drain. The hot water will wash away the debris that the baking soda and vinegar have loosened.
  8. Repeat daily if needed until the odor is gone.
  9. This cleaning method can be used weekly to maintain a clean, odor free disposal.

Sanitizing with Bleach

You Will Need:

  • Water
  • Bleach

Steps to Sanitize the Disposal:

  1. Fill a clean container with one gallon of water.
  2. Add one tablespoon of bleach to the water.
  3. Slowly and carefully pour the bleach water into the disposal.
  4. Allow it to set for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Flush with clean water as you run the disposal to rinse.
  6. Repeat if necessary.

Daily Cleaning and Rinsing with Dish Soap

You Will Need:

  • Water
  • Dish Soap

Steps to Clean the Disposal:

  1. This cleaning method is great for maintaining your disposal and removing daily debris from the interior of the disposal.
  2. After you have run the disposal, place the plug on top.
  3. Fill the sink with warm to hot water.
  4. Add a good squirt of dish soap.
  5. Agitate the water to mix it well.
  6. Lift the drain and run the disposal.
  7. The large amount of water and soap will spin around in the disposal to remove any debris that has been left on the sides or in the blades.
  8. This is a quick cleaning method that can be completed daily to keep away bacteria and odors.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Citrus peels will help freshen garbage disposals. Simply toss a few lemon or orange peels into the disposal and run the disposal as normal. While this will offer a fresh scent, it does not remove bacteria or slime from the disposal walls.
  • Oxygen bleach (such as OxiClean) also works well to clean and disinfect a disposal. Add it along with water and allow it to work through the disposal while it is running. Flush with water to rinse.
  • Most odors and food build up occur because homeowners do not allow enough water to run through their disposal. It takes about a gallon of water AFTER the food has been removed to completely rinse the disposal.
  • If your disposal has a cover, be sure to clean that as well. Slime and sludge from food that has splashed up during disposal can lead to odors there as well.



  1. Marion says:

    Thank you! All these tips were very helpful!

  2. Jen says:

    I use quartered lemons and a bag of ice to clean my garbage disposal.

  3. Gordon says:

    I had heard that if you use several ice cubes, this will remove all kinds of gunk that is stuck to the blades as well the surrounding area. Is this true? Will it damage the blades in the garburator or any of the seals?

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