The Ups and Downs of Garbage Disposals
Garbage disposals can be a great way to prevent clogged sinks. They simplify a kitchen's workflow and streamline cleanup, but of course, every solution introduces new problems. How many times have you noticed an unpleasant odor in your kitchen that no the amount of scrubbing, taking out the trash, or baking chocolate chip cookies it just wouldn't get rid of the smell? Chances are, the source of the smell was lurking deep down in your garbage disposal. So the question is, how can you ensure this won't happen again? Well, let's take a look at five different ways:
5 Simple and Quick Steps to Eliminate Odor
1) Avoiding problem items
Obviously, one of the most straightforward solutions is cutting the problem off at its source, and limiting what you put down the drain in the first place. Remains of foods that can spoil quickly, like cheeses, meats, or seafood, should probably go in the trash rather than the garbage disposal. Hold on a second...I thought garbage disposals were supposed to make my life easier!? If you don't want to sacrifice convenience, there are other options to try.
2) Chemical deodorizers
The first option many people usually turn to for cleaning a garbage disposal is a chemical solution. Unfortunately, these may not be the most effective way to go. Many companies offer deodorizing and antibacterial products designed to clean a garbage disposal, but these products can be expensive and sometimes harmful to your disposal.
If you do go the chemical route, make sure you don't use regular drain cleaner! The corrosive ingredients in most drain cleaners will attack the blades and machinery within garbage disposals, weakening them and shortening their lifespans. Luckily, there are many effective alternative solutions you can try.
That's right, plain old ice. Putting a few cups of ice cubes down your garbage disposal is a lot like rinsing it out. The ice helps to clean and shine the blades, dislodge larger bits of food, and won't get stuck because it just melts! Now, using ice is more along the lines of a preventative measure than a quick fix for really bad odors, but it's an easy enough step to integrate into normal kitchen chores. To help neutralize odors, some people prefer to add bits of orange or lemon peel to the ice, which brings us to our next topic.
4) The Power of Citrus
It's no secret that citrus peels contain incredibly fragrant compounds, and these compounds can be very effective at combating the smell from your garbage disposal. In fact, sprays made from citrus oils are a popular alternative to chemical deodorizers among healthcare professionals, and believe me, they know how to tackle all sorts of odors!
Using citrus peels can be as easy as just throwing them into the disposal on their own, nothing to it! Another option is to integrate citrus peels with other methods of cleaning the garbage disposal, including ice and the final method discussed here.
5) A Natural Solution
We now know that harsh chemicals can be harmful to garbage disposals, ice can be a good way to maintain the cleanliness of your disposal, and citrus can help mask old food odors, but how do we tackle the root cause of a smelly garbage disposal? Good old baking soda and white vinegar. Yes, the humble ingredients of an elementary school volcano science project can actually clean out a garbage disposal pretty well!
The acidity in the vinegar kills many of the bacteria that are responsible for the decay of old food and the smells that go along with it. Of course, baking soda is well known for its odor neutralizing properties, so it's no wonder that it finds a place tackling the pungent smells in garbage disposals. As a nice benefit to this method, the foaming action of the baking soda and vinegar can actually help dislodge stubborn bits of old food!
This method is very easy to implement. All you have to do is pour a third of a cup of baking soda down the drain followed by approximately one cup of white vinegar. Allow the mixture to foam in the drain for ten to fifteen minutes, and then pour several cups of boiling water down the drain to flush things out. For those that don't care for the vinegar smell, you can, of course, supplement this method with orange or grapefruit peels to leave the disposal smelling fresh and clean!
Try it Yourself!
So there you have it! As long as you remember some basic maintenance steps like avoiding the disposal of more volatile foods down the drain and periodically flushing the disposal out with ice, your troubles with garbage disposal odors should be few and far between. However, the next time your garbage disposal does start to smell a little funny, remember these tips, and you should have it spruced up in no time!
Of course, if you think there is something seriously wrong with your disposal, always contact a certified plumber, because no amount of ice and oranges will fix a real mechanical failure!
Have an issue that you can't seem to handle on your own? Find out how the plumbing experts at Mark Johnson Plumbing in Road Ruston, LA, can help you with your disposal needs, by calling (318) 257-6167.