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How to Clean a Garbage Disposal in a Few Easy Steps

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Garbage disposals are the unsung heroes of the kitchen. They keep unwanted pests from flying around your trash bin, help you cut down on single-use plastic bags, and make kitchen cleanup way easier day in and day out. But what do you do when your appliance needs its own scrubbing? If you’re not sure how to clean a garbage disposal, don’t fret. Whether you’ve been seeing fruit flies hovering around your drain, noticed your disposal losing its effectiveness, or (worst of all!) gotten a whiff of an unpleasant odor emanating from your sink, we’ve got you covered. Below you’ll find three surefire ways to keep your garbage disposal smelling like a rose and working like a champ.

Of course, it all starts with proper preventative care. To make sure that the inner workings of your disposal run smoothly, always keep the water running while you’re using it and for at least a few seconds once you’re done putting food down the drain. Specific waste and scraps including grease, eggshells, and starchy, stringy foods can dull your blades or clog the drain, so it’s best to add those materials to the compost pile or throw them into your regular trash—as long as they stay out of the pipes.

How to Clean a Garbage Disposal With Products

With all of the waste that gets shoved down the garbage disposal, it’s easy for bacteria and residue to accumulate fast. That’s why some of cleaning companies make tablets specifically designed to keep your disposal running at its best. The specific instructions depend on which brand you buy, but in general, plan to drop one down the drain each month with the water running. The tablet will dissolve into a foaming cleanser and make its way into all of the tough-to-reach nooks and crannies.

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How to Clean a Garbage Disposal With Citrus

You don’t need to look further than your kitchen cabinets for the supplies you need to keep your garbage disposal in tip-top shape. To combat buildup and keep blades sharp, here’s how to clean a garbage disposal with ice and citrus fruit. The acidity in lemons and limes will help disinfect the drain and prevent germs from accumulating, and a handful of ice cubes will keep the blades sharp and effective. Every week or so, drop these items down the drain, run the water, hit the “on” switch, and let the cleaning magic happen. Here’s a more in-depth video to help!

For a deep cleaning that will remove harder-to-get buildup, flush the disposal with the cure-all combination of baking soda and vinegar. First, drop a half-cup of baking soda into the disposal, then slowly add a cup of white vinegar. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes, then flip the switch to “on” and flush with hot water for 30-60 seconds.

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How to Clean a Garbage Disposal With a Brush

If you get a thrill from cleaning your appliances by hand, then by all means, grab a toothbrush and get to it. Before you do anything, make absolutely certain that the power supply is disconnected. Once you know you’re in the clear, squeeze some dish soap onto the bristles, and go to town scrubbing as much of the hardware as you can reach.

Alternatively, you can buy a brush specifically designed to clean your garbage disposal. Think: longer handle, 360-degree bristle coverage, and an easy-to-grip handle.

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