A balding man holding his nose

Smelly Sink and Garbage Disposal

What’s that smell?!

After more than 19 years in plumbing in Phoenix one of the most common things I get asked by other moms is how to clear up the smell at the kitchen sink.

The culprit is almost always the garbage disposal, but why and how do you clean a garbage disposal?  Your disposal essentially has two compartments, there are no blades in your disposal to chop things up, in fact the the part of the disposal that most people think are the blades are actually like impeller blades, their job is to force the ground up slurry through to the lower compartment. The bottom of the upper compartment contains a kind of plate with many holes or slits in it. The lower compartment is where the slurry and water collects and is then pushed out into the drain.

All of these holes, slits and side walls can collect food debris on their surfaces which results in an awful odor emanating from the kitchen sink drain.  How do you clean out your disposal though, it isn’t like you can take it apart and clean all the yuck out.

The secret…..ice.  Yes, a simple remedy of ice cubes usually does the trick!

Here’s what you do

Have plenty of ice on hand, citrus juice and rock salt or sea salt 

  1. Turn the unit on and run cold water, no hot water, the point is to get the disposal as cold as possible
  2. Have plenty of ice on hand, usually 2-4 trays worth. Fill the sink with the ice cubes, add ½-1 cup cold citrus juice and half a cup of salt.  Feed the ice into the disposal as quickly as it will take it. This method will freeze all the stuck debris, causing it to chunk off the impeller blades and out of the holes in the plate/flywheel.
  3. Let the water run for a few minutes after all the ice cubes are ground up.

Test it from here, this usually does the trick

If there is still an odor

To get rid of smells that may still be there be sure to use a biodegradable drain cleaning product such as Bio-Clean.


  • Drain cleaners – These are usually sand and bleach
  • Drano – or similar products, this will result in corroding the insides of your disposal causing it to leak and have to be replaced.

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Drain Cleaning Services In Phoenix & Beyond

When you need professional drain cleaning services in the Phoenix, Glendale, Scottsdale, or Chandler area, you can trust Robins Plumbing to provide you with prompt and expert service. If you can’t seem to get rid of the smell coming from your kitchen drain, garbage disposal, or faucet, contact our team today. In addition to our drain cleaning services, we also offer a variety of residential and commercial plumbing services, like water heater repair and replacement, sewer camera inspection and locating, backflow prevention, commercial and residential jetting, water treatments, and more. Visit our reviews online to see what others have to say about our local plumbing company!