Don't Panic! How You Can Fix the Cause Of Kitchen Sink Odors in 3 Steps

Posted on: 17 December 2015

If a terrible smell coming from your kitchen sink has driven you and your family from the kitchen, then you may be tempted to call a plumber to find and fix the cause. While sewer gas and other more serious causes of odors may be an emergency that should be addressed by a plumber, you may simply need to perform a deep cleaning of your garbage disposal to strip away the source of the smell.

Implementing a full cleaning plan means using multiple physical, chemical and biological methods. That requires removing both food particles and greasy deposits; odor-causing bacteria can thrive in either media and taking away just the decaying food is a partial solution.

Varying your cleaning strategies can help ensure that all odor causes are addressed and that your disposal will remain odor-free. Below is a three-step approach to fully cleaning your disposal:

1. Physically remove food particles

Ice is a great cleaner for garbage disposals; it breaks apart into shards that physically remove particles of food from crevices and blades. However, rather than use ordinary pure water ice cubes, you can enhance the cleaning power of ice by freezing white vinegar. The acidity of white vinegar will also help break down the bonds between food and the disposal walls and blades. To begin, simply pour white vinegar into ice cube trays and freeze them; keep in mind that vinegar has a lower freezing point than water, so give it plenty of time in the freezer to become solid.

Once the vinegar cubes are fully frozen, turn on the garbage disposal but don't turn on the faucet; the disposal should be running before placing ice cubes in order to prevent a possible jam. Next, drop several cubes into the disposal and allow it run for several seconds or until you no longer hear any crunching sounds. Turn off the disposal, then rinse it with cold water for a couple of minutes to wash away loosened particles. For best results, repeat this process once or twice more to help ensure full removal of food particles.

2. Strip away grease and food fats

Once you have used vinegar ice cubes to strip away particles from the disposal, the next step is to attack the grease and fats that coat your disposal's internal components. Hot water will melt the grease and fats, then added salt will absorb them.

Begin by turning your faucet to its full 'hot' setting and running the hot water into the disposal for about ten minutes; do not turn on the disposal, as the thermal protection switch can be tripped as a result of the hot water and prevent the unit from functioning. After the hot water has run into the unit for several minutes, shut it off and pour one cup of rock salt into the disposal. Use a wooden spoon to push the salt down into the opening, if necessary. Allow the salt to soak up the grease and fat for five minutes.

Finally, turn on the disposal while running warm water into the unit from the faucet. Operate the disposal and keep the water on for a couple of minutes to flush out all the trapped fats.

3. Kill odor-causing bacteria

The last step in the process is to kill any remaining odor-causing bacteria that might be left inside the disposal. You should never use bleach or other harsh chemicals such as drain cleaner, as they might damage the unit or splash into your face. Instead, the use of a biological agent will combat problematic bacteria and even eliminate tiny residual bits of food or grease.

Begin by purchasing a biological and enzymatic agent designed for use in maintaining septic systems. Be sure to buy an agent in powder form, not in liquid or other formulations. Next, measure one cup of the agent and pour it into an empty, non-running disposal. Following that, pour one-half cup of warm water into the disposal and allow it to sit undisturbed overnight; this will provide time for the bacteria to multiply and the enzymatic cleaning action to work. The next day, simply wash the contents down the drain with warm water and turn the disposal on for a few seconds to clear the drain.

For more tips or assistance, contact companies like Allcounty Plumbing Heating & Air Conditioning. 

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Knowing When It’s Time to Call the Plumber

My name is Jason Lawrence, or around my house I’m sometimes known as “Daddy Fix-It.” My wife Sarah and I have four children all under the age of ten. I didn’t start out as a guy who was handy around the house, but I am learning to become a do-it-yourselfer for sure. Did I mention that I’m a bit stubborn? There are times I struggle with projects a little too long, and it takes my wife stepping in to convince me that it’s time to call a professional. I’ve become especially handy with plumbing projects. I don’t know why kids think toys belong in the toilet and doll hair is good for the bathtub drain, but around here those are weekly events. I’m going to share some of my experiences, how I fixed some of our plumbing problems, and when it becomes time to call the plumber.

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