how to clean a waste disposal unit

Maintenance Made Easy: How to Clean a Waste Disposal Unit

Last Updated on February 23, 2023

Many UK households now have a garbage disposal unit in their kitchen. A waste disposal unit is an incredibly useful appliance. It helps degrade waste food which means you do not fill your bins as quickly.

But how do you maintain these units and keep them clean? This guide looks at how to clean a waste disposal unit in seven simple steps, so read on to discover more!

Why Is Cleaning a Food Waste Disposal Unit Important?

A garbage disposal unit is a prime area for bacteria and mould to thrive. This is because it is continually subject to food particles, grease, and debris.

Regardless of how effective your waste disposal system is, food and grease will build up over time. It could get stuck on the blades, pipes, or under the guard.

Food and grease will degrade and rot, bacteria will grow, and the whole system will become a breeding ground. This could be a health hazard and also be incredibly unpleasant. You must therefore clean your waste disposal unit regularly and keep it sanitised!

Cleaning a Garbage Disposal Unit: A Simple Guide

Every time there is an unpleasant smell coming from your garbage disposal, or you observe a lot of food waste accumulating, you should clean it. Also, we advise regularly flushing it and wiping it around the input area.

The below sections look at cleaning garbage disposal units in seven simple steps. Please note that disconnecting the power and cleaning the guards could vary depending on your waste disposal unit model.

Step 1: Disconnect the Power Source

This is possibly the most important step! Before you do anything, disconnect the power to your garbage disposal unit.

Attempting to clean your garbage disposal while still connected is a recipe for disaster. We have all heard horror stories of people getting their limbs mangled inside garbage disposals. Don’t let this be you!

Disconnect the power. Check, and check again that the waste disposal unit is offline before attempting any cleaning.

Step 2: Remove Any Excess Build-up of Food Waste

The first thing to do after properly disconnecting the garbage disposal unit is to take out any visible food that may be in the plughole rim or on the machine’s blades.

This is the simplest place to start and should immediately make a difference and eliminate smells.

Step 3: Clean the Rubber Splash Guard

Most disposal units have a rubber splash guard located around the plughole and above the blades.

The splash guard helps prevent any food scraps from flying back out and creating a mess all over your sink and kitchen.

As a result, this is also an area that is rife with food scraps and small particles that need to be removed. The underside, in particular, is an area where food waste can build up.

You should be able to remove this guard completely. If so, pull it out so you can clean in all those hard to reach crevices. Use a scourer, an old toothbrush, or an abrasive pad and scrub the guard thoroughly.

Consider adding a little detergent as you scrub to loosen any tough food and to help remove nasty smells.

Step 4: Clean the Food Waste Disposer Pipes

With the guard cleaned, place it to one side and let it dry. You can now clean the pipes and internal mechanisms to keep your garbage disposer in tip-top condition.

This can be done using a combination of baking soda and vinegar. These are both excellent cleaning agents.

Sprinkle half a cup of baking soda into the unit. Leave it to sit for a minimum of half an hour and allow it to work into the pipes and loosen any debris and grease.

Next, pour one cup of vinegar or white vinegar into the unit. This should cause a chemical reaction and make frothy bubbles appear – don’t worry!

Let this chemical reaction cleaning process take place for 3 minutes. Once it has finished, pour hot water from your tap or boiling water from a kettle into the unit to flush the solution through and remove the debris.

Step 5: Clean the Garbage Disposals Blades

The disposal blades are another prime area for food waste build-up and bacteria. Therefore, it is important to clean them thoroughly too, as part of the process.

The best items you can use to clean the disposal blades are rock salt and ice.

First, reinstall the guard. Secondly, reconnect the power of your food waste disposal unit. Take care here! Pour two cups of ice into the sink and add a cup of salt on top of this. Run cold water from your tap and switch on the garbage disposal. Let the ice and salt run through the system completely.

When finished, disconnect the power. The combination of ice cubes and salt should scrub the blades and remove any food particles. It will also help keep them sharp and effective.

Step 6: Flush the Plumbing System Thoroughly

There could be food waste and other items in the system by now. Also, there may be residue from the salt, vinegar, and baking soda. As a result, you should thoroughly flush your garbage disposal plumbing system.

Fill the sink with hot water and add detergent or commercial cleaners. Make sure it is approximately 2-3 inches full from the top.

Next, reconnect the power and turn the unit on. Allow the sink to empty and the hot water to flush through.

Step 7: Add Small Pieces of Citrus Fruit Peels to Remove Bad Smells

Lastly, you can add items to your garbage disposal unit to leave a pleasant smell and help remove any lingering odours.

The simplest method is to use citrus fruit peels. First, disconnect the power again. Secondly, grind some lemon peel and place it into the unit.

Next, reconnect, and turn it on. The citrus peel will filter through and should leave a fresh smell in the unit.

Waste Disposal Unit FAQs

Are Waste Disposal Units Environmentally Friendly?

Yes and no. No, because they do require electricity and thus use more power. However, they also help reduce waste in landfills: if food is broken up into smaller pieces, it should be easier and quicker to degrade.

Are Garbage Disposals Safe to Use?

Yes! The key with any kitchen appliance is to understand how to use them and use them in a safe and controlled manner.

Of course, a garbage disposal unit can be dangerous – it has sharp blades and can cause serious injuries if you get your fingers trapped, for example. However, these occurrences are rare. There is no reason why your garbage disposal shouldn’t be safe, provided you use the device sensibly.

Keeping Garbage Disposal Units Clean

We hope you now have a great idea of how to clean food waste disposers. As with any cleaning process, the key is to do this often and keep on top of the job.

Flush your garbage disposal regularly to help eliminate smells and food build-up. You can then periodically give it a thorough clean using the above 7-step method! Do you have any other cleaning tips for your waste disposal unit? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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