How To Clean And Freshen Your Garbage Disposal The Easy Way

clean your garbage disposal

Clean Your Garbage Disposal With Lemon And Vinegar Ice Cubes

Sometimes I worry whether the topics I cover are too “down and dirty,” “nitty gritty,” and all-around unglamorous. Dirty ovens and toilets aren’t the most charming of subjects, so today I thought for a change of pace we would focus on something more refined, like cleaning your garbage disposal. (I’m sorry, I just couldn’t resist!)

Even though I do sometimes think I need more topics that aren’t about something nasty, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And I really do think that having a fresh, clean garbage disposal in your home is a very beautiful thing!

Here is a quick, easy, and cheap way to clean your garbage disposal and keep your kitchen smelling fresh.

Even though I hardly feel like I have to explain how to make lemon and vinegar ice cubes, I figured it couldn’t hurt to demonstrate the process. (Visual learners unite!)

Related: Clean And Deodorize Your Fridge Naturally

See this cleaning hack in action in the video at the end of the post!

How To Make Lemon & Vinegar Ice Cubes (To Clean Your Garbage Disposal)

garbage disposal

You’ll need:

garbage disposal


Cut the lemons into small chunks, put a piece in each ice cube cavity, then fill each cavity with vinegar. Place the trays in the freezer, then once the cubes are frozen, transfer them to a ziplock freezer bag.

garbage disposal

Every few days, turn the water on in your sink and toss a few of the cubes into your running garbage disposal. Keep it running until you hear it clear out, then enjoy your freshly cleaned disposal!

garbage disposal

Bonus Garbage Disposal Tips

  • If you don’t have any citrus peels on hand but your garbage disposal is in desperate need of deodorizing, use two tablespoons of vanilla, orange, or lemon extract instead.
  • Never pour grease into your garbage disposal, because it will stick to every nook and cranny and eventually create odor problems. If grease is accidentally poured down the drain, rinse immediately with a lot of hot water.

Do you have any other tips or tricks for cleaning garbage disposals?

YouTube video

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Homekeeping Tips

  • Pour some baking soda in it, then add some vinegar,it’ll foam up and clean it. Let it sit like that for a half hour, don’t use the sink, then add hot water after..

  • I clean mine using lemons or oranges because the Citrus helps and it smells nice. But one thing to remember, Beyond cleaning under the flap, is that using Citrus or vinegar on metal can be corrosive. After I clean mine really well and rinse it really well, I take WD-40 and using the straw that comes with WD-40 spray the metal parts that spin around crushing your food. This will help prevent rust due to the corrosive nature of citrus fruits and vinegar, etc. If your disposal has locked up (you push the button and it makes noise but nothing happens or else is silent), spray some WD-40 on these parts AND look underneath your disposal unit under your sink and there should be a red button that is a reset button. You may need to push this to get it to restart. Many times people think their disposal has died, but it just needs this button pushed to reset. Hope this helps and maybe saves someone from buying a new disposal when not necessarily needed. Been there, done that.

  • One of the stinkiest places in a garbage disposal is under the rubber surround. Be sure to clean it, it is a gross job but it is worth it.
    D. Popcorn

  • Straight ice cubes will clean out a disposal. Get a bowl of ice cubes ready, remove the rubber flap ring, plug the dishwasher drain, run a few inches of cold water in the sink and leave the water running. Then turn the disposal on, unplug the drain and immediately dump the ice cubes down the drain. Also might want to plug your ears as it’ll make a heck of a racket. It also might scare you when you see just how much crud is swirling around in the water that the ice cubes have scraped loose. The ice cubes also help to keep the blades sharp. Leave the disposal and water running till all of the ice is gone and the crud is washed down the drain. A second method that can be used if your dishwasher drains into the disposal is to turn the disposal on exactly as the dishwasher begins its drain cycle. And after the dishwasher is completely finished, always run fresh water through the disposal to clean it completely out. Dishwasher crud is a major contributing factor in stinky disposals due to the food debris being dumped into the disposal and not being immediately rinsed out with fresh water. That’s also why disposal instructions tell you to leave the disposal and water running for 30 seconds or so after grinding the food waste up. It’s also so that any ground up debris won’t just sit and accumulate in the p trap, possibly plugging the drain.

    • Once again Al, I am so thankful for your contributions. You add so much with your knowledge! Thanks for sharing all of this great information. :-)

  • I have a method that is similar, but you don’t have to make ice cubes. Run a strong steady stream of HOT water in the sink. Turn on your garbage disposal and add several small wedges of lemon; (you can even use lemons that you have squeezed all the juices from). Quickly add a generous amount of Dawn dish liquid while continuing to run the disposal. I add enough Dawn that it foams up to the top of the disposal. Continue until the lemons are chopped. Rinse and your done. The lemons give it a nice smell, (even if you’ve left something too long in the disposal) and the Dawn cuts the grease and grim in the disposal.

  • I bought one of those toilet brushes that are round in shape. Put it into the garbage disposal and “scrub.” This really gets the garbage disposal clean.

  • When the sink is completely dry, pour a good handful of baking soda down the drains. Follow the baking soda with white vinegar – don’t be alarmed when it fizzes up! Let it fizz for a while, and then pour a pot of boiling water down the drain. :-)

  • This is what I so like about your blog, Jillee. It is real and useful. Don’t worry, because you make the tips you share both pretty and helpful.
    There are scores of blogs about decorating, and while nice to look at, most of those things won’t be put to use by many of us. We might like them, but don’t have the time, money or need to utilize those things. What you share many of us put to use on a daily basis.
    My disposal was starting to smell badly until I put baking soda and lemons in it. The idea of the vinegar as ice cubes is even better. Great ideas! Thanks!

  • I tried this method a few times but apparently my garbage disposal was too stinky! I ended up pouring about 1/2 a cup of baking soda down the drain, then a cup of vinegar over that. It bubbled up and fizzed, then I left it alone for 30 minutes before flushing with hot water. I did this two days in a row and the smell was completely gone and has stayed that way for over a month.

  • That is a good idea for quick fixes but mold and crud accumulate under the flaps of the disposal which keep the food being ground from flying out of the disposal. To clean that area, I use a brush about 2″ long on a long handle (found in kitchen accessories) and put bleach gel on it and scrub around the insides of the disposal and under those flaps. You’ll be amazed at how dirty that area can be.

    • This is what I do, also. It seems that this is the area that needs to be kept clean, more than the bottom of the disposal, yet of all the times I have seen tips for cleaning the disposal, cleaning the flap is never mentioned. I am glad to know that there is at least one other person out there who knows this. Thanks for commenting.

      • The flaps on my disposal are long gone, my disposal is old but working well, so far. Thus, running cold water for 30 seconds while the disposal is running cleans that disposal very well.

    • I wasn’t familiar with “bleach gel”, so I Googled it. There are recipes for cheap homemade bleach gel out there, including one by Jillee (written 3 years ago, before I found her blog). I’ll be making some to clean our disposal.

    • Actually, the rubber flap ring is removeable, which will make it easier to clean. And when you’re going to run your dishwasher, just pull the ring out and put it in the top rack for washing.

  • Brilliant, Jillee! I’ve heard of putting pieces of lemon down the disposal, but combining lemon with vinegar sounds even better. Thanks for another great idea! I’m pinning and sharing this one!

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