You walk into the kitchen and it smells like something died in there overnight. As you are trying to determine the source, you realize that is coming from the sink. There is one obvious culprit: the garbage disposal. A smelly garbage disposal can be a downer, but it doesn’t have to ruin your day. Fortunately, there are some simple ways you can address the smell emanating from this important appliance.

Clean the Outside

Start by cleaning the visible part of the garbage disposal. Use dish soap and a scrub brush to scrub away any buildup you see. In particular, make sure to scrub where the disposal rim meets the sink basin, as it is common for debris to get trapped and may even cause mold to grow.

Soak the Housing

If your garbage disposal is smelly, this might be because there are food particles stuck in the housing. It’s wise to clean this part by soaking it. Stop the sink drain and fill the basin halfway with water and a bit of dish soap. Then, unplug the drain, and turn on the disposal, flowing that soapy water through all the nooks and crannies of your disposal.

Get Rid of Residue

It may be that you have food residue building up in your disposal, causing it to smell. If this is the case, you may need to dislodge some of this residue to move it through the device quicker. Put ice and kosher salt down the disposal so they can work to grind away the smelly, slimy residue.

Use Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits, such as lemons and oranges, can be a handy tool for deodorizing your garbage disposal. Try grinding a few citrus peels (or even a whole piece of fruit cut into pieces) in your garbage disposal while running water. This not only makes the disposal smell better, it works to dislodge the residue, using the same principle of the ice and salt method described above.

Flush It

As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Before your garbage disposal even gets smelly, make sure you are regularly flushing it with water. Make it a habit to routinely turn on your disposal and run hot water through it for one minute. Every time you run it, make sure to flush it in this way to prevent the issue from manifesting in the first place.


Have you tried all of the steps above and are still smelling an unfortunate scent coming from your disposal? You may need a more aggressive approach. Arm yourself with baking soda and vinegar and open the rubber flaps of your garbage disposal. Pour half a cup of baking soda down the disposal, then pour half a cup of vinegar. Let this solution sit for an hour, then turn on the disposal and run cold water for a minute.

If you are still experiencing a smelly garbage disposal after taking all these steps, it may be time to call professional reinforcements. As the leading plumber in Suffolk County, we would be happy to help you with any of your kitchen plumbing problems. Contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our Suffolk County plumbers!