Garbage disposals are a great addition to a kitchen. After all, they make it much easier to ensure that the sink doesn’t get backed up, and you don’t have to worry about food accidentally going down the drain. However, sometimes they still get backed up, and sometimes they don’t completely get rid of what goes down. When this happens, you might end up with a sink that constantly stinks, and a gross smell in the kitchen isn’t something anyone wants. So how do you fix the nasty smell that’s invaded your kitchen? Here are some tips to clean your garbage disposal so it doesn’t stink.

Clean the area around the disposal

If you’re having issues with your garbage disposal smelling, sometimes it might work best to just make sure the area around the disposal is clean. Not only should you regularly clean the sink, but you should also pay special attention to the actual disposal area. The top can usually be cleaned with just a normal rag, but if you want to be sure that you’ve done a thorough cleaning in a fairly short amount of time, consider using a toothbrush to clean down a little farther into the disposal. Take precautions to make sure the disposal won’t turn on at any point; even though your hand should never go into the disposal, it would still be quite a fright. Some brands of disposals also have a removable section near the opening; search online for your particular brand of disposal to learn if you can remove a portion and clean it.

Try citrus fruits and peels

While it won’t clean the disposal, citrus fruits and peels can definitely make it smell a little bit better. The best way to do it is to take an orange or lemon and cut it into quarters. Then, put one quarter down the disposal, peel and all, and run it for a few seconds after it stops grinding. Do the same with the other three quarters. After you run them through, make sure you rinse the disposal with hot water.

Use salt and ice

Though some people will say that using ice sharpens the blades in a disposal, the truth is that most disposals nowadays don’t even use blades. Instead they use a sort of grinding method to pulverize food and send it down the drain properly. It does, however, clean it fairly well. First, pour a large cup full of ice cubes into the drain, enough to fill it up entirely. Turn the disposal on, and, while it stays on, pour a half cup of salt in as well. Rock salt is best, but kosher salt and coarse sea salt will work in a pinch. This method will allow the ice and salt to scrub at the grinding chamber, buffing away slimy residue. Make sure you rinse the disposal afterward with clean water.

Occasionally, use baking soda and vinegar

Though using baking soda and vinegar as an all-purpose cleaning agent isn’t that great of an idea —mostly, the chemical reaction just makes a lot of water— the fizzy reaction that happens when the two collide is great for pulling up any lingering residue. Pour baking soda down the drain until it spills out of the top, then slowly add enough vinegar to cover it. Leave the two for about fifteen minutes, then slowly pour boiling water down the drain to clean it out. Turn on the hot water tap and let it run for another minute or so, grinding the disposal every so often. After doing this, make sure you don’t clean your sink with bleach for some time; mixing bleach and vinegar together makes chlorine gas, and you definitely don’t want to risk inhaling that poisonous concoction, no matter how important a clean kitchen is to you.

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