Your garbage disposal is an invaluable kitchen appliance. Having a garbage disposal is beneficial to your kitchen, our environment and your plumbing. However, shredding up all those food scraps to keep your drains and pipes clean over time can make for a smelly sink and ultimately your kitchen and home. Ideally, you should clean your garbage disposal once a week to keep your disposal working properly and your kitchen smelling fresh. Cleaning your disposal doesn’t have to be as labor intensive as you might think. There are a number of things you can do to maintain and clean your garbage disposal.
How to clean the disposal itself
Use hot water to flush out your garbage disposal. This can help remove any loose grunge and grime. Adding some dish soap to the hot water rinse will facilitate a deeper clean.
Use ice cubes and salt to remove the tougher grime that have stubbornly attached itself to the grinding components. In addition to cleaning benefit, grinding ice will also sharpen the disposals blades and remove undesirable odors.
Manually scrub the inner walls of the disposal. Professionals, like those at Linthicum Plumbing & Drain Cleaning Inc. also suggest using an old toothbrush or a long handled brush. However, before you initiate this cleaning process, you should always make sure that the power to the appliance is disconnected. Typically, its plugged into the wall under the sink. However, the disposal’s electrical connection can also be disconnected on your homes electrical panel. Test the disposal switch to confirm the power is off.
Clean the sink splash guard
In addition to the disposal itself, it is important not to forget to clean your sinks’ splash guard. The splash guard, or the rubber flaps in the drain, prevent food particles and liquid from splashing back into the sink when the disposal is running. The underside of the guard often gets covered with food bits that can rot. People often forget to clean this essential part of their disposal, and it can easily be cleaned with a good ole toothbrush, soap and hot water. As always, before cleaning this, make sure the power to your disposal is off.
Eliminating odors From your disposal
After thoroughly cleaning your disposal there are a few ways to get it smelling clean and fresh.
A combination of baking soda and vinegar is an effective deodorizer. While running hot water into disposal, add a half a cup of baking soda into the drain, then add a half a cup of white vinegar, and let the mixture sit for five to ten minutes. Once this time is up, flush with the running drain with hot or boiling water. Many people call this the volcano method, as this fizzy mixture your kids use to make exploding volcanoes in their science class!
Some people might recommend using bleach to clean your disposal, however, professionals will disagree. Using bleach, drain cleaner, or other harsh chemicals can damage your blades and your pipes. Alternatively, Borax is a natural cleaning product that is a safer substitute to clean your disposal and minimize odors.
Maintaining your clean garbage disposal
Once your garbage disposal has been thoroughly cleaned, it is important to maintain its polish and sparkle. As previously stated, it is recommended that you clean your disposal once a week. In addition, it is crucial to remember that your disposal is not a trash can. You should only be putting biodegradable food items in your garbage disposal. There are several items you should avoid putting in your garbage disposal:
Extremely fibrous foods such as corn husk, celery stalks, onion skins, and artichokes- the fibers can tangle in the disposals’ blades, jam, and block drains
Potato peels- the starches in the potatoes will turn into a thick paste and may cause your disposals blades to stick
Grease, oil, or fat - these items can clog your drain and hinder its grinding ability
Fruit pits- disposal blades are strong, however not strong enough to cut through these items
Pasta and rice- once you add water to these items they will expand inside your pipes and cause clogs
Large animal bones- they will continue to spin around with the blades and never make it down the pipes
Coffee Grounds- they can accumulate in drains and pipes and cause clogs
Egg Shells- the shells membrane lining can stick to the sides of the disposal and wrap around the blades
Call a plumbing professional when all else fails
These are general cleaning and maintenance tips for your garbage disposal. If you try these basic cleaning methods, and the annoying stench in your sink persists, you can always contact the professionals at Linthicum Plumbing & Drain Cleaning Inc. to help with your garbage disposal and other plumbing needs.