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Funky smell in the kitchen? Check the disposal

Putting food scraps into disposal

Nothing makes a clean house seem dirty faster than funky smells. It doesn’t matter how much your countertops sparkle if a guest walks in and smells leftovers lingering from three nights ago. If your kitchen is by all appearances clean, yet there seems to be some hidden smell wafting about, there’s a good chance your garbage disposal is the culprit. So what do you do when your garbage disposal smells less than fresh?

1. Prevention is the First Step

Although the name implies that you can throw anything you want down the drain, you want to be cautious with the choices you make. Some foods will have a long lasting smell that is harder to get rid of. While others may wreak havoc on the mechanical parts of your disposal, making it more likely to hold on to bits of unwanted gunk or to clog up the drain.

Never put anything stringy down the drain. This includes celery, corn husks, and asparagus. The fibers can tangle within the blades and cause serious issues. You also want to avoid common drain cloggers such as potato peels, coffee, and grease. As for your Indian dinner leftovers or that delicious Cajun fish, only put them down the drain if you want to smell them next week.

2. Soap and Water

Bacteria and mold can make your garbage disposal stink fast. That’s why it’s important to keep all parts of the disposal clean. Run your disposal for a few seconds longer than you think you need to to make sure everything gets cleared out. Also, make sure to run the water as you run the disposal as it will help loosen anything that wants to hang around.

The outside pieces of your garbage disposal are prime real estate for mold to take root. Take a toothbrush and some soap and water and scrub the visible pieces. On many garbage disposals, you can remove the plastic splash guard and scrub both sides.

3. Ice and Salt

Sometimes there’s sludge inside that just won’t go away. A good abrasive can help pull down some of the lingering gunk. Kosher salt is a great scrubbing agent. Fill a cup full of ice and pour it down the drain. After all the ice is in, switch on the garbage disposal and pour half a cup of salt down it as it runs.

4. Lemons

Lemons and other citrus fruits like oranges and limes are great deodorizers. First, cut up the fruit and throw it down the drain. Then, run the disposal until there is no fruit remaining. The coarse peel will help clean the blades, while the oils in the peel will freshen the disposal and leave the house smelling like sweet fruit.

5. Baking Soda and Vinegar

For the really tough smells, vinegar and baking soda may be your best bet. Baking soda is a great natural deodorizer and vinegar is great for removing dirt and germs. Pour one half cup baking soda down the drain, followed by one half cup vinegar. Allow this to sit a half hour and then rinse. You should only use this method occasionally as the vinegar is harsh on the rubber parts of your garbage disposal.

6. Commercial Products

If the natural choices aren’t effective, there are many commercial disposal cleaners available. Choose the one that best suits your needs and follow the directions on the package.

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