5 Reasons You Have a Garbage Disposal Odor

AllClear 2:57 pm

Did you know that the garbage disposal was invented in 1927 by John Hammes? Do you have a garbage disposal, and you’ve noticed an odor coming from it, and you’re not sure why?

In this article, we here at All Clear Plumbing will go over what can be causing those garbage disposal odors. Read on to discover the different reasons plus what to do if you notice a strange smell coming from your disposal. 

What Is Causing That Garbage Disposal Smell? 

Have you recently rinsed a dish and don’t run the garbage disposal as often as you should? If you leave food to build up, it can cause an odor that comes from your pipes. 

1. Sewer Gases

Your sink when properly installed will have a trap that will prevent sewer gases from coming out of the drain. If there’s a leaky vent, a dried-up trap, or a drain vent, it can cause the trap to not do its job as well. 

2. Bacteria

While the rubber strainer might look clean, underneath might be a different story. Your kitchen’s sink drain can harbor bacteria and mold. Your garbage disposal odor can hold onto these and cause this odor. 

3. Dirty Disposal

If food gets stuck into the blade and you haven’t cleaned it, it can cause an odor. After you run the garbage disposal, you should keep water running for about 20-30 seconds afterward to make sure all food is gone. 

4. Unused Drain

When a drain goes unused for a while, the water that’s in the trap will evaporate. This will cause odors to rise out of the drain. Make sure that you run water through the drain to prevent this. 

5. No Drain Trap

If you have a sink without a drain trap, this can cause the strange odor you’re experiencing. This causes the stale air to rise, and there isn’t a way to stop it. To fix this, you’ll want a high-quality plumber to fix this for you. 

Preventing Garbage Disposal Smells

If you notice an odor or want to prevent an odor, you can place ice cubes into your disposal to eliminate any food that gets stuck. You can also throw in a few pieces of an orange or lemon to help eliminate any odors. 

Use your garbage disposal only for the food it’s made for. Avoid placing more fibrous vegetables down the drain such as potatoes and celery. Small pits and eggshells can help to prevent food from being trapped on the blades. 

How To Get Rid of Garbage Disposal Odors

The easiest method is to use soap and water. Make sure that the steel or puller of rubber is in the drain.

You’ll want to first fill up half of your sink with hot water. Next, add liquid dish soap. 

You’ll want to make sure that they mix well. Once done, remove the drain puller. Get rid of any garbage that’s leftover. 


If you decide to try bleach, follow all safety precautions and warnings on the bottle. First, run cold water and pour bleach into it. Let it sit for about an hour. 

When it’s done soaking, you’ll want to remove the rubber testing cap. Let the solution drip. This will remove any food that’s stuck, and the bad odor. 

Ice Cubes

Not only will ice cubes remove any garbage disposal smell, but they’ll also sharpen your blades. First, place ice cubes into your drain. You can add salt if you’d like. 

Run the disposal for about 15-20 seconds before the sound stops. This should eliminate any bad odors

Removing Residue

Do you have food stuck in your cleaner? Try out some kosher salt to dislodge food particles. 

First, take a big cup of ice cubes, plus a 1/2 cup of kosher salt. Pour it onto the drain.

After this is done, run your garbage disposal for about 15 seconds. This will remove any leftover slimy residue. 

Deep Clean

If you’re still smelling that odor after garbage disposal deodorizing, it might be time to deep clean the area. First, run hot water through your faucet for about a minute. Next, use a wrench to remove the pipe that’s under your sink from the disposal. 

Use a rubber test cap onto the pipe’s underside that leads from your disposal. This will stop water from going into the pipe. It’ll also help it absorb any cleaning solutions.

Before beginning, you’ll want to have a bucket underneath the pipe and rubber cap to collect any spills and runoff. Have warm water pass through your garbage disposal until it hits the top of your drain. 

Once this is done, you can add a mixture of half-cup oxygen bleach powder to your drain for an hour. When this is complete, you can remove the rubber test cap, and have the water drain into your bucket. When you’re done, connect the pipe.

The Garbage Disposal Smells Like Sewage

If you notice a sewage smell coming from your disposal, it can mean a partial clog. Common items that can become clogged are meat, fibrous fruits, veggies, bones, shells, or fruit pits. Before ever reaching down, always make sure that you unplug it first. 

If you notice the waste is stuck and not moving, you can use a gripping tool to help remove any leftover waste. Your best bet for a full clog is to call a high-quality professional plumber in your area. 

Different Reasons You Have a Garbage Disposal Odor

Now that you’ve explored the different reasons why you might have a garbage disposal odor, you should be well on your way to deciding what plan of action to take first. Are you having sewage or other plumbing problems?

Whether related to your garbage disposal or not, we can fix a variety of plumbing issues. Contact us today, or book an appointment right now through our website. We’ll come up with an action plan that’s specific to your needs.