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3 Reasons Your Garbage Disposal Smells

January 29, 2023 | Blog

Your garbage disposal is designed to be tough on food, but sometimes food can be tough on your system! With how much matter and debris your sink processes on a daily basis, it’s completely normal to catch the occasional sniff of something funky. However, when a foul smell lingers past the point of needing to pitch in for rent, there might be a bigger problem.

Norman Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing is here to help you identify the possible causes of your smelly disposal, ways to prevent and fix them on your own and when it might be time to call in the pros!

Why Your Garbage Disposal Smells

Rotten Food

Foul smells from the garbage disposal are most often caused by decaying food matter stuck inside your system. Unfortunately, not all foods break down the same and can clog your pipes, prolonging the stench and slowing or backing up the drainage.

Try to minimize the amount of food sent down your sink, particularly avoiding the following food items:

  • Vegetable peels and fruit skins
  • Starchy foods
  • Eggshells
  • Coffee grounds


Like certain foods, cooking oils and fats clog your pipeline when sent down the garbage disposal, leading to backups and nasty odors. These substances solidify when cooled and collect on the sides of your drain pipe so that food and debris struggle to flow through properly, creating blockages. Therefore, the best way to dispose of grease is by pouring it into a container after it’s cooled and tossing it into the garbage can — not disposal!

Mold & Mildew

Unfortunately, your sink drain is a perfect, high-humidity space for mold and mildew to spread. Mold growth produces a particularly musty smell and can also make you sick when exposed. To protect the health of your family and your system, you must regularly rinse and wash your garbage disposal to avoid bacteria buildup.

Cleaning & Deodorizing Tips

Hot Water & Soap

It may seem like common sense, but sometimes hot water and soap are enough to prevent foul odors from coming from your sink drain. Make sure to always run hot water when using your garbage disposal, and opt for a grease-cutting dish soap when washing your sink.

Ice & Salt

Running a combination of salt and ice down your disposal is an excellent way to scrub blades free of any lingering food particles and neutralize strong odors. Try using coarser salt for a tougher abrasive against slimy or greasy residues.

Baking Soda & Vinegar

Mixing baking soda and vinegar is another tried-and-true method for eliminating bad smells and breaking down food matter stuck in your system. Pour equal parts into your sink drain and let it sit for about one hour before rinsing with water.

When In Doubt, Schedule A Garbage Disposal Repair

If all else fails, your garbage disposal may require professional cleaning or repair. Our certified team at Norman Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing is trained to efficiently diagnose and repair the issue at hand so that you won’t have to suffer much longer.

As a locally-owned and operated business, we pride ourselves on servicing the plumbing needs of our community. If you’re in the area, make sure to choose Norman next time your garbage disposal starts acting — and smelling — funky!

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