How To Fix A Smelly Garbage Disposal

Once you've lived without a garbage disposal in your kitchen sink, you realize what a luxury and convenience it is to be able to rinse off dirty dishes straight into the sink. It saves time and helps prevent a smelly kitchen trash can full of the food you've had to discard from your plate. However, occasionally the disposal itself becomes the source of unpleasant odors. Fortunately, there are a few DIY solutions you can try before calling a plumber.


The first step in attempting to improve the smell of your garbage disposal is a good old-fashioned sink cleaning. You'll need a good cleaner and a sponge, preferably an abrasive sponge or a two-sided sponge with an abrasive side. A cleaner with some grit to it is always helpful in removing tough kitchen stains. Give the sink a good scrub with as much elbow grease as you can muster and make sure to get any grooves or raised edges where food might get caught. Before tackling the disposal, make sure to unplug it. If it's hard-wired in, turn off the breaker that feeds it power. Once you've done that, you should definitely give the black rubber baffle a good scrub, inside and out. While the interior of the disposal stays fairly clean thanks to the grinding action of the blades, the baffle tends to collect food and soap scum.


If you give the sink and baffle a good scrub and the smell hasn't gone away, try cleaning the inside of the disposal with abrasives. An easy way to do this is to dump a cup full of ice cubes directly down the disposal. Follow that with chunky salt like kosher or rock salt. Use a full cup. It will seem like a lot but you'll need that much in order to give the inside a good scrub. Now, turn on the water to a light drizzle and flip the switch. Let the disposal run for several seconds. The mixture of the ice and salt will give the interior a good scrub. Run again with a hot water rinse.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

Another great option for DIY garbage disposal cleaning is the old volcano science experiment. Pour about ½ cup of baking soda down the disposal and then chase that down with ½ cup of white vinegar. The mixture of the two will create that familiar rise, bubble, and fizz. Cover the drain with the sink stopper and let the mixture sit for several minutes and then flush with hot water while running the disposal.

Call A Plumber

If you try these options and the smell persists, you should definitely call your plumber. The problem may originate in the pipes.