Homemade Garbage Disposal Freshener

My brother the handyman came by this week to help me install a new garbage disposal. The old one was well past its prime, so I was happy to see it replaced, but I was interested to see the new one came with a pack of coupons for a product to keep my new disposal “fresh.” According to my brother, when he is working in residential kitchens, one of the questions he is asked most often is on this very subject. How do you keep a garbage disposal clean and smelling fresh?

Invented in 1927 by contractor John W. Hammes, the goal of the garbage disposal was to create a quick and efficient way to dispose of incidental food waste and eliminate the unsanitary conditions and odor associated with spoiling food in the kitchen. Although this new product was slow to catch on, his invention and the company he founded, In-sink-erator, eventually grew to find huge success and garbage disposals are now commonplace in homes around the world.

No doubt about it, Hammes invention is pretty darn handy for ditching incidental food scraps not bound for the compost heap, but the problem of lingering odors perseveres. Garbage disposals do a great job of grinding and spiriting away food particles, but that cavernous hole in the sink does not lend itself well to cleaning. As residue builds within, the cleanest of kitchens may still have one wrinkling their nose at a whiff of the foul stench emitted from the sink.

As the coupons I received with my new disposal will attest, there are commercial products available for deodorizing, but I’m not too keen on the excessive use of chemicals. Fortunately, there is a DIY solution for keeping the disposal clean and smelling fresh with almost no effort.

A simple blend of baking soda, salt, dish detergent and citrus is perfect for cleaning the hard-to-reach depths of any garbage disposal and leaving behind a fresh clean scent. Salt acts as an abrasive to remove residue in the disposal, baking soda cleans surfaces and neutralizes odor, dish detergent is a degreaser and the power of citrus helps keep the disposal clean and smelling great.

Pour a quarter cup of this grime buster down the sink once a week to keep your disposal fresh and clean and if things get out of hand, try adding a quarter cup of vinegar and a handful of ice to the mix for an extra burst of cleaning power.

Does your garbage disposal need a breath freshener? Follow the steps below to make your own natural disposal freshener using common household items.


Step 1

 Open Galleryhomemade disposal freshener

Baking soda, salt, dish soap and the power of fresh lemons combine to keep hard-to-clean garbage disposals clean and smelling great.

Step 2

 Open Galleryhomemade disposal freshener

Combine two cups of baking soda and two cups of sea salt in a large bowl.

Step 3

 Open Galleryhomemade disposal freshener

Add a teaspoon of dish detergent to act as a degreaser.

Step 4

 Open Galleryhomemade disposal freshener

Zest two lemons and add it to the mix to provide a fresh and pleasing scent.

Step 5

 Open Galleryhomemade disposal freshener

Squeeze the juice of the lemons into the bowl. The baking soda will foam a bit as you add the juice. Stir to combine well. The combination of citric acid and baking soda is great for keeping the disposal and drain pipe clean.

Step 6

 Open Galleryhomemade disposal freshener

Store your homemade disposal freshener in an airtight container. Pour a quarter cup of freshener into the disposal weekly or as needed to eradicate residue buildup and to keep your sink smelling fresh and clean without the need for commercial chemicals.


  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 2 cups sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon dish soap
  • 2 lemons


  • Large bowl
  • Zester
  • Lemon juicer
  • Airtight container
About Mick Telkamp 


A former Midwesterner living in North Carolina, I write about my adventures in backyard chicken-keeping and suburban homesteading over at HGTVGardens, and my exploits in the culture of Southern cooking ...

More About Mick Telkamp

9 Responses

  1. Great blog you've got here… It's difficult to find high
    Quality writing like yours these days. I seriously appreciate individuals like you!
    Take care!!

  2. Stalin Giggery says:

    To keep your Garbage clean and fresh once in a month pour a half cup of baking soda down the drain. You can use vinegar with that and when the baking soda stops foaming, rinse with hot water. To smells good use citrus peel in your garbage disposal. And make sure to use always cold water while running the unit. Hope this will help you.

  3. Lesley Morgan says:

    Hi Mike, thanks for this recipe sounds lovely and fresh. Is it also ok to put through my automatic washing machine on a monthly basis? Regards, Lesley Morgan

  4. Kim says:

    What I hate is the rings and nooks in the black rubber splash guard. Will this method clean the gunk that accumulates in those nooks and rings or will I still have to scrub with a toothbrush? Also, I have done the baking soda and ice routine and it makes me think its cleaner anyway. But I like this mixture and will definitely be making some to put in a container by my sink. Thanks!

  5. C.W. GOHR says:

    I have a better idea, just get rid of garbage disposals. They do make the repair person a lot of money though.

    • PatC says:

      Hogwash, disposals are one of the best inventions EVER ! ! ! ! Sounds like C.W. is a man who spends very little time in the kitchen.

  6. Martin says:

    Step 2 says; "Combine two cups of baking powder…". I think you meant to say baking soda.

  7. galeyann says:

    thanks you for the disposal cleaner recipe. I have been puring just baking soda down mine and it works OK, but this sounds mych better

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