How to Clean a Garbage Disposal

Your own safety ought to be a priority when cleaning garbage disposal units of any type. That includes wearing protective equipment like rubber gloves, as you would when washing dishes. 

In the same way that something as seemingly innocuous as liquid dish soap can irritate your skin when washing regular dishes, the various methods used to clean garbage disposal can also be harmful to you. 

Any precautions taken to clean your garbage disposal are also taken to help protect the machine that you are cleaning, instead of making the situation distinctly worse than just a clogged-up or filthy garbage disposal.

Food that tends to build up and get clogged in your garbage disposal includes things like potato peels, fruit pits, rough peels, and any other food particles that you chuck down your system. 

Read on to learn more about how you can take a holistic approach to deal with this problem.

Are You Supposed To Clean A Garbage Disposal?

Yes, you are supposed to clean garbage disposal regularly, if you want to prevent the build-up of harmful bacteria and mold. It is also important to clean your garbage disposal regularly, to help prevent the build-up of sludge and food debris, all of which will contribute to rotting and the strong odor invariably associated with it. The last thing you need is a smelly garbage disposal.

You should also clean the garbage disposal regularly, to keep it fully functional, by reducing the prospects of it ever clogging up or blowing out. How often you clean your garbage disposal is also determined by how you use it when it is functional, by monitoring what foods or food particles you actually put into it and conducting regular maintenance to ensure that all of the garbage disposal moving parts (including the blades) are operating optimally. 

How Often Should Garbage Disposal Be Cleaned?

If you use your garbage disposal daily, you should clean it at least once a week. However, if you are somebody who does not regularly put food scraps or bits of food into your garbage disposal unit, you can get away with only cleaning your garbage disposal drain once every two weeks.

How Do You Clean The Rubber Flange On A Garbage Disposal?

The rubber flange on most kitchen garbage disposals, also commonly known as the rubber splash guards (or rubber guards), can be cleaned with some regular dish soap, warm water (or hot water), and a toothbrush (which is actually the most essential feature here). 

The toothbrush is important because it will help you to remove any food residue that usually builds up from most fibrous foods, which contribute to most of the garbage disposal smells you encounter when your machine is dirty. 

Most of that visible food debris builds up around the rubber flaps, both on top and under the rubber splash guard. The toothbrush gives you access that most other cleaning utensils probably won’t. 

Once you are done targeting the food buildup with soapy water, you can rinse it down with cold water. You can deal with each flap one at a time and repeat the process until you are done, or you can target all the flaps simultaneously, before rinsing them all at once. If you apply a little elbow grease consistently, you should be able to do a satisfactory job regardless of the method used.

How Can I Tell If My Garbage Disposal Is Clogged?

The most compelling sign that your garbage disposal is clogged is usually the odor that it gives off, especially when it starts spreading through the kitchen. It should also become increasingly apparent that your garbage disposal has been clogged up when it starts making humming, loud grinding, and clanking sounds.

However, the final clue that your garbage disposal unit might be clogged up is when you start encountering problems with your power and reset functions (or disposal switch) in the machine. 

That is usually a byproduct of the garbage disposal unit being burned out by trying to break down something that is clearly not a biodegradable food item. Sometimes this happens because there is simply too much fat, dirt, and grime clogged up in the system, making it difficult for anything to pass through it because it has been allowed to harden.

How Do You Unclog A Garbage Disposal Without Taking It Apart?

You can unclog the garbage disposal without taking it apart, by using ice cubes, citrus fruit, white vinegar, salt, lemon peels, diluted bleach solution, dish detergent, and baking soda. 

If the situation does become a little more desperate, you might need to pursue commercial chemical options, which are readily available at online vendors like Amazon or Walmart.  

The worst-case scenario will be that you have to either take the garbage disposal apart yourself or rope in the services of a professional plumber (which is the least cost-effective solution available here).

However, below you will find the two most conventional methods used to clean garbage disposal. Both are cost-effective and convenient.

How Do You Unclog A Garbage Disposal With Baking Soda And Vinegar?

The vinegar technique can be implemented with anything from white vinegar to apple cider vinegar. You usually only need a cup of vinegar to clean your garbage disposal with this method, which is also commonly used to clean the kitchen sink, the sink drain, or any other drain in your household. 

In some other household instances, you will need a little more than a cup of vinegar, but with a garbage disposal, a cup should give you the power you need to clean effectively.

To clean your garbage disposal with this method, you will also need half a cup of baking soda, which you will apply before you pour in your vinegar. 

The mixture will spark the reaction that you need to target all grease and grime in your garbage disposal. You need to give a reaction for about ten minutes to work away at your garbage disposal. Once you are satisfied that the baking soda and vinegar have done the job you need, you can then flush them down the drain with some hot or boiling water.

Can I Pour Bleach Down A Garbage Disposal?

Yes, you can pour bleach down a garbage disposal to clean it. However, it should never be your first option. And when you do pour bleach down garbage disposal it would probably be best to do it with a diluted cup of bleach solution, to minimize the impact that it will have on your entire system, including the drains.

Before you get started with the bleach it would be prudent of you to drop in a few cubes of ice. 

Once you have prepared your disposal with ice, you can then add a tablespoon of baking soda, which is a little less than the cup of baking soda you would use with just the vinegar.

Once you have applied your baking soda, you can then pour in a tablespoon of bleach. A cup of bleach will definitely be too much, while powdered oxygen bleach is usually a good option too. 

Once you have added your bleach, the convention would then be to put three or four lemon wedges into your garbage disposal.

Once you have added the lemon wedges, you can follow that up with a handful of ice cubes. When you are ready, you can then run the garbage disposal, as you would with actual garbage in it.

When you are satisfied that there is no more grinding in your garbage disposal, you can run some cold water into your disposal for about half a minute, just to flush it out.

Can I Put A Lemon in My Garbage Disposal?

As a form of odor control, you can also grind a whole lemon or two in your garbage disposal, once you have completed cleaning it. If you do not want to put in a whole lemon, you can also get away with using citrus peels. 

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