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Eliminating Foul Odor Coming from a Garbage Disposal

One of the most frequently asked questions about plumbing is “What can I do about a foul odor coming from a drain?” There are a few answers to this question depending on the type of drain and the cause of the odor. One common location where foul odors occur is the garbage disposal.

Foul odors can occur from a buildup of food debris within your garbage disposal. To eliminate this unpleasant odor, you can place ice cubes and lemon or orange peels in your disposal. Then run the disposal for about 30 seconds. After that, squirt a little liquid dish detergent into the disposal while it is still running. Finally, run cold water for about 30 seconds to rinse all the debris away.

One of the best ways to get rid of the odor is by using an enzyme-based cleaner. How and why do these types of cleaners work? Once you understand what enzymes are, you can begin to see why they are especially useful in plumbing.



An enzyme is a molecule that serves as a catalyst for chemical reactions. A chemical reaction is when two starting chemicals, called substrates, react with each other and convert into entirely different molecules, called products. An enzyme is a sort of third party to this reaction and is a catalyst, meaning that it helps to speed up the process. Each enzyme is built to speed up only certain reactions, but the different types of enzymes are almost limitless.


Enzymes are crucial for all life, including human life. Inside the human body, there are millions of enzymes. Without these enzymes, chemical reactions would not occur rapidly enough to keep us alive. When we take a breath of air, in order for the oxygen to be useful to our body, a chemical reaction must occur. In order for that reaction to occur fast enough to provide us with oxygen to live, a sufficient amount of enzymes must be present. Digestive enzymes are just one of the many important enzymes in the body, and they help break down the food that we eat.


Seeing how enzymes can help break down food in the human stomach, it becomes clear why they are useful in removing odors from garbage disposals. When a garbage disposal starts to stink, it is because food particles are stuck in the disposal and are beginning to rot. By pouring a plumbing cleaner down the drain, chemical reactions can occur to break down the food. With enzymes, these chemical reactions are sped up, making for a more efficient cleaning product.

Want to learn more about enzymes in plumbing or other drain cleaners? Check out our Drain Cleaner 101.