Garbage Disposal Smells Like Sewage? 4 Magic Cleaning Tips

Does your garbage disposal smell like sewage?

How inconvenient! Encountering an unpleasant smell whenever you approach your kitchen sink can be super annoying.

Luckily, you’ve come to the right place.

If your garbage disposal smells like sewage, try checking the food you’re throwing in it, pouring some cleaning solution down the drain, or calling a plumber as a last resort.

Keep reading for a fresh kitchen!

Why trust us? This article was written by Craig Anderson and James Blackford.

Craig has helped thousands of other homeowners repair their appliances since 2016.

James is one of our resident appliance experts with over 16 years of experience. He currently works as a Master Technician for SquareTrade, and runs his own appliance repair business.

In-case you prefer to listen, here’s a clip from our podcast where we discuss reasons why a garbage disposal could smell of sewage.

Garbage Disposal Smells Like Sewage? Try These 4 Simple Fixes

Different reasons could explain why your garbage disposal smells like sewage. Luckily, there are various solutions you can try to eliminate the odor.

#1 Check Your Food

If your garbage disposal has a sewage smell, you need to ensure you’re throwing the right foods into your disposal.

I know it can be hard to believe that a rotating machine with sharp blades can have trouble processing anything. But many things can create problems for your garbage disposal.

Avoid pouring down the drain oil, as it not only contaminates hundreds of litters of water but also has the potential to create blockages on your sewer lines as time goes by.

The same goes for fibrous or stringy foods, like celery, banana peels, or pasta, as any of them can easily become tangled on your disposal’s blades, creating excessive strain on the motor and decreasing its lifespan.

banana in garbage disposal
Not all foods are garbage disposal-friendly

So, if your garbage disposal smells like sewage, chances are there is rotting food residue stuck to the pipes, the blades, and the motor of the appliance.

Solution: The best way to eliminate most debris and grease spots is by pouring cleaning solutions down the drain. This will be discussed in the next section. For now, try watching what you throw at your disposal more closely to avoid future issues.

#2 Pour a Cleaning Solution

In my opinion, the easiest way to eliminate the sewage smell from your garbage disposal is by using a cleaning solution.

When it comes to substances to clean your garbage disposal, there are several brands and products you can go with. I enjoy using Drano or Affresh, as they do a terrific job at removing stuck residue from food or oil and deodorizing the unit.

However, the downside to using a commercial cleaning solution is that it’s made from various chemicals that can contaminate a lot of water and isn’t the most natural substance out there.

If you’re environmentally conscious, you could try pouring a solution of baking soda and vinegar into the garbage disposal. You can also use lemon and ice. These natural cleaning solutions should get rid of even the toughest grease spots and can also go a long way in removing food debris that could be stuck on the way down.

Cleaning garbage disposal
Cleaning your garbage disposal often is critical.

Solution: Ideally, you’ll want to pour the cleaning solution into your disposal at least once every two weeks to reduce bacteria buildup on the duct, and the blades, while also aiding in preventing different performance issues.

Keep in mind that if your garbage disposal is a few years old, it can require multiple treatments of the cleaning solution to effectively eliminate the sewage smell.

#3 Clean Your Dishwasher

If your garbage disposal keeps smelling like sewage, it’s time to clean your dishwasher.

You see, some garbage disposals share the same drain line as the dishwasher. So, if there’s gunk accumulated in there, it could cause a persistent sewage smell.

I recommend using a cleaning tablet and a sanitizer and running the hottest cycle to remove unpleasant odors.

Tip: If you prefer a natural cleaning solution, place one cup of white vinegar on the top rack and run the hottest cycle. Then, place a cup of baking soda at the bottom of your dishwasher to effectively deodorize it.

It’s also important to clean the filter and spray arms with warm soapy water to eliminate any remaining smells.

How to clean a dishwasher filter
Use a stiff nylon brush to clean your dishwasher.

#4 Call a Plumber

If you’ve tried all the fixes above, but your garbage disposal still smells like sewage, there’s likely a more serious issue going on in your home’s sewer lines and piping structure.

Having your garbage disposal smell like sewage could be the first sign of a major blockage that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

A plastic P-Trap
Plumbing issues are no joke. Call a professional as soon as you suspect something’s wrong.

Solution: While you’ll need a professional plumber to take a closer look at the piping structure and fix the problem, you can somewhat accurately diagnose what’s going on before the expert arrives.

If the smell is only coming from your garbage disposal (as opposed to your bathroom and shower), chances are the P-Trap on your kitchen sink is dry, which could be letting unpleasant sewer gases pass through your piping.

Planning ahead can save you a lot of time and money.

Wrapping Up: Keeping Your Garbage Disposal Smelling Fresh

Hopefully, now you know how to eliminate the sewage smell from your garbage disposal.

Remember, throwing only the right foods into your garbage disposal, using a cleaning solution to remove tough grease spots, and cleaning your dishwasher should do the trick.

Thank you very much for sticking with me all the way to the end. If this article piqued your interest and was helpful, please check out our other free guides.

Good luck!

I've been helping homeowners with appliance repair since 2016. Starting out as an enthusiastic amateur, I've since worked with many Appliance, HVAC, and DIY experts over the last 7+ years. My mission is to help fix your appliances and prevent future issues - saving you stress, time, and money. Visit my author page to learn more! Read more