Dear Home Ec 101:
How do you de-stink a garbage disposal?
~Gagging in Glendale
If you Google the problem you’ll find 101 different remedies for your stinky situation. The problem is then deciding which ones are effective and which are a waste of time or potentially dangerous to your appliance.
Tim, at Ask The Builder, suggests the smell may be coming from hardened bits of food sticking to the disposal’s walls. When you run the disposal to rid yourself of scraps, they don’t magically disappear. The food particles are mashed into a soupy mixture that gets splashed all over the inside of the machine. If enough water is not run, those bits are left behind and that is what is perfuming your kitchen. Some food matter may also be sitting in the drain pipe, if it was not flushed all the way out of the house. Yum-O!
It is important to always run the water while using the disposal to help flush the food away. After using the disposal, Tim suggests filling the sink 2/3 full with soapy water and simply pulling the drain and running the disposal to wash out any remaining bits of water. It’s a great idea, but sounds a little wasteful to me. If you’re going to fill the sink with soapy water, you might as well go ahead and wash any leftover dishes and the counters while you’re at it. The food won’t adhere permanently in that space of time and you’ll be killing two birds with one stone. Sometimes it’s hard to be frugal. ::dramatic sigh::
The added pressure from the sinkful of water should push any nasties lurking in your drain on out to the sewer, too. If after trying this method a few times you still have an odor problem you may have to go a few steps further and give your garbage disposal a good internal scrubbing. The good thing is this should only be a one time operation, provided you practice the good disposal hygeine outlined above.
Visit your friendly neighborhood plumbing supply store, or one of the big box stores, if you’re like me and the curmudgeonly old men just glare at you for entering their domain. Hopefully you have most of the supplies in your toolbox, anyhow.
- a 1 1/2″ rubber test cap
- a 5 gallon bucket
- 1/2 cup Oxiclean (or similar product)
- a pair of channellocks
- an old towel, just in case
On to the fun part. You will need to remove the pipe connected to your disposal. This is where the channel locks come into play, use them gently to avoid cracking the pvc. Your bucket should be immediately under your work area to catch any drips. Attach the test cap to the pipe exiting the disposal and make sure it’s tight.
Fill the unit with hot, not boiling, water just to the sink drain. Add the oxiclean and let it sit for approximately an hour. Then, turn on the disposal and allow the blades to agitate the water for a minute. (Stop if you’re making a foamy mess.)
Remove the test cap and allow the water to drain into the bucket. Carefully reattach the pipe, again being careful to not crack the pvc. Leave the bucket in place until you are absolutely sure the pipe has been correctly reattached and tested. Plug the sink, fill part way with soapy water, then drain with the disposal running.
Check for leaks and put all your toys tools away. Now take a minute and enjoy your stink free kitchen. You did clean out the fridge last week, right?
Submit your household questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.