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The Homeowner’s Professional Guide to Cleaning the Garbage Disposal

While plumbing installations and repairs are often a territory feared by Houston homeowners, keeping appliances clean with routine maintenance is a task that doesn’t have to require a plumbing technician. Rather, you can use home remedies to cleanse your appliances and plumbing so that, between catastrophes involving broken pipes and damaged plumbing appliances, your house remains fresh and clean and in good working order.

Take, for example, the garbage disposal in your kitchen. Many times, we take for granted that the garbage disposal is a self-cleaning device, though we couldn’t be more mistaken in that assumption. With all the food and waste we put down the drain, pieces are bound to get stuck in the blades, with a foul odor eventually coming from the drain. This isn’t something we need a Houston plumber for, just a little common sense and a few household items.

Warm Cleaning Solutions

The garbage disposal is a sturdy appliance, so start by running the hottest water your sink can produce and letting it flow through the disposal unit. Adding some fruit peels (oranges, lemons, etc) can add a citrus scent to the air and eliminate tough odors. You can also add a half cup of baking soda, followed by a half cup of vinegar. Let the mixture sit for two to three minutes, then flush the garbage disposal with hot water.

Also, if you have a dishwasher, run your garbage disposal during the drain cycle, which will help eliminate small bits of leftovers washed from the plates from sticking in the drain or garbage disposal.

Cold Cleaning Solutions

Another way to be sure you get all the pieces of food and waste clinging to the blades inside your garbage disposal loose and washed down the drain is to use ice. Run the garbage disposal for several minutes while putting five or six ice cubes down it. As the ice is broken up, the sharp pieces will clean the hard-to-reach crevices and remove unwanted, smelly debris.

What Not to Do


  • Use a scouring pad inside the garbage disposal unit – threads of the pad can become stuck on the blades, causing a malfunction.
  • Use drain cleaning products – these are often toxic and can actually be damaging to the garbage disposal itself.

If the home remedies don’t seem to work, there are professional cleaning products for garbage disposals in your home improvement store. Most of them are foaming rinses that are easy to use. If you need assistance beyond this, give your local Houston plumbing company a call for recommendations or to schedule an appointment to see if there is something else going on with your garbage disposal or other plumbing fixture.