Q&A / 

Garbage Disposal Odor

Does your garbage disposal smell like a rat died in it? You know, that foul odor?

Let’s talk about why it happens. The odor is from rotting food that’s coating the side walls and bottom of the disposer. Many people don’t use a disposer the right way. Let’s go over that first.

When you operate a garbage disposal, running water is your friend. You want the water from your faucet running before, during and after the grinding process. I urge you to run the water for a good 20 seconds after you turn off the disposal. This helps get the sludge you created grinding the food far down to the building drain of the house where toilet flushing can then ensure it makes it to the sewer or your septic system.

If you want your disposal to be odor-free, immediately after using it you need to have the disposal filled completely with water and turn it on while it's filled with water.

Here’s how you do that. Put the stopper in the top of the disposal. Turn on your cold water. Fill your kitchen sink about 1/3 of the way with water.

Pull out the stopper and immediately turn on the disposal. Keep it on until all the water drains from the sink. The disposal's motor swirls this clear water around in the disposer and sends any food particles down the drain.

Cleaning a stinky disposal is not too hard. The key is to disconnect the drain pipe from the disposal and install a short tailpiece tubular piece of pipe that has a cap on it. It’s easy to remove the drain pipe from the disposal. A screwdriver or small socket is all you need.

With the temporary tailpiece in place with the cap on it, fill the disposal with HOT water. Place an empty bucket under the tailpiece coming out of the disposer in case you have a leak.

With the disposal filled with water, pour in two tablespoons of Stain Solver Certified organic oxygen bleach. Let this water sit in the disposer for five hours. Check every so often to make sure the water is not leaking from the disposal. You need the water to be all the way to the top of the kitchen sink strainer.

At the end of five hours, drain out the water and reconnect the disposer. Follow the steps above to immediately rinse out the disposal by filling your sink with water and turning on the disposal. This will rinse away any food particles that were on the disposal parts.

If you want to easily fill your disposal in the future without having to take apart all the drain piping, you can install a ball valve in the drain line on the other side of your p-trap. These large ball valves are simple to install and will save you tons of work in the future. The benefit of using them is that when you pour the oxygen bleach into the disposal some of it may make it down into the drain pipes and clean them at the same time.

If you still have an odor, it can be coming from a foul biofilm that’s on the inside of the tubular pipes that lead from the disposer down to the p-trap under the sink. Clean those too by just taking them apart and using a bottle brush with soap and water.

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4 Responses to Garbage Disposal Odor

  1. Another way I do a quick clean is with a bucket of ice. The swirling of the crashing ice chips away most of the sludge keeping the disposal nice and fresh.

  2. Great tips! I've used the swirling water technique (hot soapy dishwater is best,) bottle brush, ice cubes with running water, and every now and then I grind up a lemon or lime. Works like magic and never stinks.

  3. We r at wits end after plumbers don't even know what's the problem. Only when we don't run our central air or heart do we smell this horrible odor coming from my bathroom. I have bidet also. If the central heat or air is on all is ok but turn them off it's smells rotten! Do u have any idea for us.

    • Are you sure the wax seals on the toilet and bidet are TIGHT and not leaking? Do a peppermint oil test. Search "peppermint oil" using the search engine here at my website.

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