Garbage disposals are a modern convenience that makes disposing of food waste a snap. They are attached to the kitchen sink and help to break down food scraps so they can be properly handled with the existing plumbing system rather than accrue in a landfill. However, as convenient as disposals are, it's easy to neglect them or not clean them properly. Read on for our how-to guide to make your disposal dreams come true!

close up of disposal

What You'll Need

  • dish soap
  • kitchen sponge (with rough side)
  • sink stopper
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 orange
  • 1 lime
  • ice cubes
  • 1 cup rock salt
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • measuring cups
hand holding sponge cleaning sink


Method #1: Fantastic Fizz

An easy homemade method for cleaning garbage disposals involves vinegar and baking soda, commonly used household items that should be on hand already.

  • Dump 1/2 cup baking soda into garbage disposal.
  • Next, slowly add 1/2 cup vinegar. Mixture will fizz and bubble intensely.
  • Cover with sink stopper, and wait for fizzing to die down. This should take a few minutes.
  • Then, run disposal while flushing with hot water, about 30 seconds.
veggies dropping into disposal and sink

Method #2: We Will Rock You

This is a quick way to clean your disposal using rock salt, and is especially effective for removing buildup inside.

  • Fill disposal with ice cubes. Please note, crushed ice is much less effective so try to stick to cubes.
  • Add 1 cup of rock salt. Vinegar can also be used here if rock salt is not available.
  • Run disposal for 30 seconds-1 minute with cool water running.
washing hands with bubbles

Method #3: Soapy Success

This tried-and-true cleaning option gets down and dirty in your disposal.

  • Using dish soap, saturate kitchen sponge with soap and bubbles.
  • With abrasive side of sponge, carefully clean the underside of the rubber baffle/entrance into disposal.
  • Then, reach your hand in further and scrub the inside of the disposal, especially the top section.
  • Important note: be careful not to turn on disposal during this part of cleaning.
  • Rinse with warm water.
sliced citrus

Bonus: Fresh Is Best

After cleaning with one of the methods above, freshen your disposal with citrus for an aromatic twist.

  • Peel citrus of your choice, then cut peels into smaller pieces.
  • Once you have a heaping handful, place into disposal with a couple ice cubes.
  • Run cool water and disposal for about 15 seconds. The pretty scent should begin wafting up from your disposal.
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