How do I get rid of bad garbage disposal smells?  Pippin Brothers, Lawton, OK
November 20, 2014

Does your kitchen sink’s garbage disposal smell so awful that it’s almost embarrassing?

You don’t want to call a plumber if you can fix it yourself, right?

Well, good news: You can possibly get rid of this rotten smell using items just laying around your kitchen.

Try these 4 methods before calling the expert plumbers at Pippin Brothers.

1.) Water and dish soap

The first method for removing a rotten smell from a sink’s garbage disposal is also the simplest—mixing hot water and soap.

  1. Put a rubber or steel stopper into the drain.
  2. Fill the sink about half-way full with hot water.
  3. Add in a couple squirts of liquid dishwashing soap.
  4. Mix the soap and water together.
  5. Lift the drain stopper and run the garbage disposal


Why this works: Hot water and soap combined help remove and wash away the gunk in your garbage disposal just like it would remove food off of your dishes.

Running the disposal unit will suck in the water/soap mixture quickly and help clean anything stuck on the grind ring.

Note: See how a garbage disposal unit works.

2.) Ice cubes and kosher salt

If the smell persists after the soap and water method, try this:

  1. Throw down a few handfuls of ice cubes and one handful of kosher salt down the drain.
  2. Turn on the garbage disposal and let it run until you’ve stopped hearing noise for about 10-15 seconds.


Why this works: The ice cubes, while being ground up, act like millions of miniature missiles, all firing towards any leftover and stuck-on debris that may be stinking up your sink. The tiny ice particles knock off most of the gunk from the spinning blades of your disposal, while the handful of salt helps scrub the sides of the disposal’s upper tank.

3.) Baking soda and vinegar

This next method is one of the oldest plumbing tricks in the book. All you need for this next drain cleaning method is a half-cup of baking soda and a half-cup of vinegar.

Pour the baking soda inside the drain
Add the vinegar and then let the mixture sizzle and fizzle for 10-15 minutes.
Then, turn on the garbage disposal and run hot water from the tap for about 30 seconds.

Why this works: Vinegar acts as a natural deodorizer and is also great at killing bacteria.

Note: Because vinegar is also acidic you should not use the baking soda and vinegar method very often on your drain. Over time the vinegar could do long-term damage to the rubber parts of your disposal.

4.) Lemon peel

The last method for getting rid of the nasty smell just requires the peelings from a few lemons.

  1. Cut the peels into half-inch strips and place in your drain.
  2. Run your tap at half-power with hot water
  3. Turn on the garbage disposal and let it run until you’ve stopped hearing noise for about 10-15 seconds.


Why this works: The natural citrus of the lemons will coat the inside plate and rubber housing of the disposal and give off a fresh-cleaned smell without having to use any hard chemicals.

Note: This method only provides a nice scent. It does not get rid of any food build up. So only use the lemon peel method after the actual problem-causing sludge and grime has been eliminated. Otherwise it will just be like covering a dumpster with potpourri.

How to prevent future issues

Don’t turn off the disposal when you stop hearing the noise of things being ground up. There could still be loads of food and other particles stuck to the grinding plate or the sides of the disposal tank itself. Then the food sits and cakes itself onto any surface it can find, and over time converts into the foul-smelling awfulness that has stunk up your kitchen time and time again.

So continue to run your disposal for about 10-15 seconds after you’ve stopped hearing noise. Then shut off the disposal, but continue to run the water for another minute or so.

This helps flush your water heater, keeping food and scraps from building up inside of the disposal and drain.

We also recommend a product called Bio-Clean® which you can pour down your drains each month. This drain cleaner uses naturally occurring bacteria and enzymes that “digest” dead organic waste found in your plumbing system, helping prevent drain clogs and nasty smells.

If all else fails

If you’ve done all of the above, but something funky is still coming up from the pits of your sink, there are several possible causes, including:


Don’t panic. We can help if you live in the Lawton, OK area. From nasty kitchen drains, to beautiful bathroom remodeling, our expertly-trained and certified plumbers are here to take care of you and your home whenever you might need us.

For more information, contact us online or call anytime at (580) 699-5660.