How To Clean Your Garbage Disposal With Ice

Even if you avoid putting too many scraps or grimy waste items down the drain, your garbage disposal can get super smelly. Fortunately, you can quickly and easily deodorize it using items you already have around your home. In fact, you can clean your garbage disposal with ice alone or add just a couple more inexpensive, common ingredients to deodorize, degrease and de-gunk the drain.

There are several different ways you can clean your garbage disposal with ice in mere minutes — and follow up by giving the rubber splash guard a good scrubbing to boot. I tried several popular methods, and some worked better than others.

How To Clean Your Garbage Disposal With Ice

Even if all you have is an ice tray or two filled with cubes (or the means to prepare some ice), you can clean your garbage disposal with ice. This hack went viral on TikTok, so you might have already heard the idea that tossing ice into the garbage disposal will help deodorize it and sharpen the blades.

@dm3ltI swear I didn’t think anything from TikTok would ever actually work♬ original sound – Des

Actually, garbage disposals don’t have blades. Rather, they have spinning plates with impellers that force particles of food against a stationary grinding ring using centrifugal force. The ring breaks the food down into liquids or very fine particles that get flushed through your home’s wastewater pipe.

bowl of ice
Simplemost/Tricia Goss

However, you can still use ice cubes to clean the disposal grinding components, though the ice usually melts before it cleans the grinding chamber completely.

The simplest way to clean your garbage disposal with ice is to simply place several ice cubes into the drain, turn on the garbage disposal and then turn on the hot water. The process will only take a few moments as the disposal will grind the ice and the hot water will melt it rather quickly. You might see some residue rise into the sink, but it will wash back down as the grinding and melting complete the cleaning process.

For me, this method was very noisy and sounded like it was affecting the grinding parts, but I did not see any dirty water or grime rise into the drain, nor did I notice a change in the odor from the garbage disposal.

Clean Your Garbage Disposal With Ice And A Few More Common Ingredients

You can get a deeper clean by incorporating one or more other items from around your kitchen with the ice. The pros at Roto-Rooter recommend peeling and halving a lemon and using tongs to insert both lemon halves into the disposal. Next, pour one cup of ice into the drain and get the disposal going. Finally, add one cup of liquid dish soap, turn on the cold water and allow it to run for 30 seconds. The ice cleans the grind ring, citrus freshens the drain and soap helps remove greasy grime that can build up over time.

This method was satisfying to me. I was able to hear the ice being chewed up, see some bubbles from the soap inside of the disposal, and the fresh, clean scent of the lemon was not only evident but lasted for a long time.

Note that too much citric acid from the lemons could corrode some internal parts of the disposal, so use this method sparingly.

tongs placing lemon half in garbage disposal
Simplemost/Tricia Goss

Another option is to sprinkle a good helping of coarse salt in with the ice cubes to help scrub the grinding components. Follow up with some lemon slices or even a few citrus peels for that fresh, clean scent. There was no notable difference for me between this method and the previous one except for the lack of suds.

Other common household cleaners can be brought into play as well. Consumer Reports recommends dropping six ice cubes into the garbage disposal followed by a tablespoon of baking soda, which is a natural, mildly abrasive cleaner and deodorizer. Toss in three slices of lemon and one tablespoon of bleach to kill mold, mildew and nasty bacteria that could be living in the drain. Top with six more cubes and run the disposal until the grinding is finished, then flush with cold running water for about 30 seconds. Although this method didn’t provide the satisfying suds (and I presume the grease-diminishing power) of the dish soap, my drain did smell especially clean following the use of these items. It still smelled fresh the next day.

Baking soda, soap, lemons, ice for cleaning garbage disposal
Simplemost/Tricia Goss

Avoid adding any other cleansers, such as (but not limited to) vinegar or ammonia, as mixing these chemicals with bleach could be deadly.

If you only have ice on hand, you can achieve a slightly cleaner garbage disposal. However, if you can get your hands on some lemons and soap or baking soda and bleach, these methods had the most notable results in my experience.

How To Clean Your Garbage Disposal Splash Guard

Depending on your disposal brand and model, the black rubber splash guard at the top of the drain may be removable. If it is, it will easily pop out. If not, don’t try to force it. To clean a removable splash guard, take it out (you might prefer to wear gloves) and scrub it with a small brush, such as a toothbrush, and warm, soapy water. Rinse away the soap and gunk, then replace it in the sink.

Even if your splash guard isn’t removable, you can still clean it by lifting a section of the guard at a time and scrubbing the underside with a soapy sponge or scrub brush to remove any sludge or grime on it. Be sure to give the sink a good scrub, as this will likely get things a bit messy. You might be surprised by the gross gunk hanging out on the rubber flaps. Rinse with hot water to finish.

Cleaning garbage disposal splash guard with scrub brush
Simplemost/Tricia Goss

What Not To Do When Cleaning Your Garbage Disposal

Along with avoiding hazardous chemical combinations, you should never pour lye or chemical drain cleaners into your garbage disposal. These could damage the internal parts of the device.

And don’t waste your money on commercial garbage disposal cleaners, says Eric Schultz of InSinkErator.

“Many don’t do much to clean residue, while some contain corrosive chemicals that can damage the disposal’s metal components,” Schultz told Consumer Reports.

Even though it doesn’t have swirling blades like a blender, it’s wise to avoid shoving your hand into the garbage disposal. You could get a scratch or scrape and be subject to nasty bacteria growing in the drain. If necessary, use tongs or a long-handled scrub brush — and make sure the disposal is turned off.