Q&A / 

Garbage Disposal Smell

DEAR TIM: My wife has been fighting with a stinky garbage disposal. It's relatively new (I replaced it for other reasons last year). She's tried many different approaches to cleaning, and yet to her the smell returns. Before I pop the drain pipe and see if there's something accumulating down there, do you have any tips for cleaning a garbage disposal? Leo N., Seattle, WA

DEAR LEO: This is pretty simple to solve but because you now have an odor problem, it is going to take a little work. Let me explain what has probably happened over time. The inside surfaces of the garbage disposal get a slime on them because I suspect the disposal is not being used properly.

Many people simply throw garbage down into a garbage disposal, turn it on while some water is running through it and quickly turn the disposal off as well as the water. The spinning motion of the disposal blades throws a slurry of garbage up on the sides of the disposal chamber and the small amount of water coming from the faucet doesn't always completely wash this organic slurry off the sides of the disposal.

If this slurry of organic debris is not completely washed off the inside of the disposal, it begins to rot and this decomposition produces a foul gas. If you do this enough times - meaning not rinse off the organic slurry, it can harden over time and then becomes a problem to clean. You have to re-hydrate the hardened slurry.

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