DIY How to Clean Your Garbage Disposal

How to clean a garbage disposal.

Your garbage disposal is a haven for weird smells, food particles, and bacteria. Often it goes without cleaning because of the difficult task it poses, being wedged underneath the sink and being notoriously dangerous for hands to be inside, leading to disrepair and even a disposal that doesn’t function at all. There are ways to clean, unclog, and repair your disposal without risking injury or having to take the entire sink apart. Each of these household items have unique uses that can assist in the overall maintenance of your garbage disposal. If you are unable to dislodge anything stuck in your disposal and our DIY How to Clean Your Garbage Disposal does not help, call a professional plumber. We can advise on the best disposals for your abode, and provide a quote for installation as well!


Baking Soda (Borax as a substitute), Rock Salt, Vinegar, Ice Cubes, Citrus Peels


  1. Before we can do anything, making sure the disposal is off is a necessity. Depending on the design, you may need to check the circuit breaker in the electrical panel and temporarily switch off the disposal. In the case where you do not have a circuit breaker, unplugging the switch from the wall will work.
  2. After making sure the disposal is clean of any major debris with a flashlight, pour two cups of ice cubes and one cup of rock salt down the garbage disposal. Ice cubes are good for removing larger particles and making a vibrating disposal run smoothly again, without all the harsh noises from larger, trapped and caked on debris. Note: if anything is trapped inside of the disposal, do not remove it with your hands. Use tongs, a broom handle, etc. to avoid reaching inside the chamber.
  3. Begin running cold water and turn on the disposal. The ice cubes and water will sharpen the blades and break up stuck food particles, acting like a scrubby sponge. An alternative to salt would be to freeze vinegar into ice cubes and follow the same procedure.
  4. Flush your disposal with hot water afterwards to make sure the disposal is cleared of any remaining food particles that were knocked loose and is properly draining. If not, you may need to call a plumber at this step and have a professional check the problem.
  5. Pour 1 cup of vinegar and ½ a cup of baking soda down the disposal and let the mixture sit for 15 minutes.
  6. Once the mixture is finished fizzling, make a paste from baking soda to clean the insides of the flaps. Use an old toothbrush to scrub stuck on gunk from the flaps, taking care to keep hands away from the inside chamber.
  7. Run warm water down the disposal to flush out everything. Once the disposal is cleaned out and draining properly, place small pieces of citrus peels in the disposal while still running warm water and turn on the disposal. Feel free to add spices to give your disposal and kitchen a fresh scent. Run the garbage disposal until it is completely clear.
  8. Plug your sink and fill with 4 to 6 inches of hot water.
  9. Once full, unplug the sink and turn on the disposal to check the drainage and provide one final wash out of the pipes.