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Question DetailsAsked on 12/14/2014

what causes an earthy smell when running the garbage disposal

I just bought a 1972 house - it's been fully remodeled inside and the kitchen was apparently the last thing finished. I have a garbage disposal which seems to work fine, but often times, when I run it, a very strong earthy smell comes out of it. This also happens if very hot water is poured down that drain, even when the disposal isn't running. What can be causing that?

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1 Answer


Can't say what causes that specific smell - can't say I would use that mild a term for any smell I have smelled out of a garbage disposal, but sounds like something coated the inside of the disposal above the normal water level. May also be prior owners did not fully flush the disposal with each use, shutting it off before it has finished grinding and flushing away everything, so it is coated with bioslime.

Likely solutions - any of following four, starting with what you have and working up from there if needed:

1) Run good water flow with disposal running, and squirt a couple of long shots of dish soap in there so it comes bubbling out the drain - so you know the soap is completely coating the inside of the disposal, run water and disposal till the load sound changes to the quieter, steady noise of disposal with only water in it - probably about 30-60 seconds run time.

2) Put a couple of serving spoons of baking soda down the drain, wash down with a cup of water with about 1/3 vinegar (any type) in it, then run the disposal with a slow flow of water going down for a half minute of so, then full flow to flush it for 30 seconds or so before shutting off water and disposal.

3) run a lemon through it - cut into slices you can shove down into it with a wooden spoon without deforming the rubber protector in the drain while running disposal with slow water flow (more than a trickle) till you can't hear the disposal chewing on the rind any more, then full flow for 30 seconds to be sure disposal has chewed it all up.

4) run slow flow of water with disposal running as you pour in a cup of hot water with a couple of tablespoons Borax powder dissolved in it - the powder you find in the laundry aisle, NOT Boraxo soap. Borax is very good at killing mold/mildew/smells.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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