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How to Clean Garbage Disposal with Vinegar and Baking Soda


It is surprising that garbage disposals don’t become smelly more often when you consider what goes through them. The fact that they operate by throwing foods against a grinding wall will mean that the unit will need to be cleaned every so often. To prevent odors, simply run orange or lemon rinds through the disposal with a few ice cubes ever week or so.

Even if you already have an odor problem, caustic cleaners are not necessary. Most homes already have products on hand that will effectively resolve the issue.

Mild Cleaning

The easiest way is to fill the sink about 2/3 full of warm, soapy, water then turn on the disposal and let the water drain through with the unit running. This will create a whirlpool action and flush food particles that may be clinging to the sides of the disposal walls down the drain. Turn on the cold water for a minute or so after the warm soapy water has drained to finish flushing everything clear.

Baking Soda and Vinegar Solution

If you have an odor problem that isn’t resolved with the soapy water, try pouring 1/2 cup of baking soda into the disposal unit. Let it sit for about 30 seconds, then add an equal amount of white vinegar. You may want to insert the stopper in both sinks while the solution is bubbling. When the fizzing action dies down, flush the system with a medium sized pan or teakettle full of boiling water. Follow up by running cold water through the disposal while it is operating to wash everything out the drain.


“InSinkErator – Garbage Disposers, Garbage Disposals, Instant Hot Water Dispensers.” Garbage Disposal | Kitchen Garbage Disposers | Food Waste Disposers | Garbage Disposals – InSinkErator. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 May 2010.

“Maytage 3/4 AP Insink Disposer Use and Care Manual.” Maytag. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 May 2010.


Expert Opinion

“Acetic acid is the acid in clear white vinegar and is a natural all-purpose cleaning agent. It is best for general household cleaning on surfaces that can tolerate a strong, acidic product. Vinegar removes hard water deposits from glassware, rust stains from sinks, and tarnish from brass and copper. . . Although vinegar is widely used as a disinfectant in household cleaning, the packaging cannot claim the product as a disinfectant because it is not registered with the EPA.”

Selections and Use for Home Cleaning Products   New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service


“Some environmental groups advocate “environmentally safe” products as alternatives to commercial germicides in the home-care setting. These alternatives (e.g., ammonia, baking soda, vinegar, Borax, liquid detergent) are not registered with EPA and should not be used for disinfecting because they are ineffective against S. aureus. Borax, baking soda, and detergents also are ineffective against Salmonella Typhi and E.coli; however, undiluted vinegar and ammonia are effective against S. Typhi and E.coli 53, 332, 333. Common commercial disinfectants designed for home use also are effective against selected antibiotic-resistant bacteria .”

Guidelines for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities, 2008     Center for Disease Control

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