Skip to Main Content
Hands are checking garbage disposal under sink.

Bad Garbage Disposal Smell

Funky smells coming from your garbage disposal? Get tips on diagnosing causes, DIY fixes, when to call a pro, and how to permanently eliminate bad odors.

Schedule an Appointment

If you’ve noticed a funky, nauseating smell coming from your kitchen sink and garbage disposal, you’re not alone. The source of the odor is usually built-up food waste, standing water, or an underlying issue with the disposal parts.

While you may be able to temporarily mask the smell yourself, a lingering stench likely means it’s time to call in the pros. At A1 Sewer & Drain, we specialize in diagnosing and permanently eliminating any bad smells from garbage disposals.

Our technicians will get to the bottom of what’s causing the odor and take care of it for good. That means no more holding your breath when you just want to do some dishes!

What is a Bad Garbage Disposal Smell

A bad disposal smell can range from a mild musty odor to a full-on rotten stench. It may come and go or linger continuously. Either way, it’s no fun dealing with the constant bad smell while you’re trying to cook meals and use the kitchen.

The source of the odor is usually built-up food waste, standing water, or an underlying issue with the disposal parts.

What Causes a Bad Garbage Disposal Smell?

There are a few common culprits behind garbage disposal odors:

  • Built Up Waste: Particles of food can get trapped in the disposal chamber and pipes. As it rots over time, it releases foul odors.
  • Improper Use: Putting the wrong items down the disposal like coffee grounds, fruit pits, or grease, often leads to clogs that cause bad smells.
  • Standing Water: When water pools in the chamber, it allows odor-causing bacteria to thrive.
  • Damaged Parts: Issues with the motor, shredder ring, or other components can prevent proper waste grinding, leaving debris to decay.
  • Lack of Cleaning: Not regularly cleaning the disposal with baking soda, vinegar, citrus peels, or ice allows smells to build up.

Can You Fix a Bad Garbage Disposal Smell?

Yes, in many cases, you can eliminate garbage disposal odors. Keep in mind, severe or persistent smells indicate bigger issues that require professional repair or replacement services.

How to Fix a Bad Garbage Disposal Smell

The main cause behind foul smells in your garbage disposal is clogged, rotten food, so your solution is to clear the disposal.

A1 Sewer & Drain can come out and do this for you. Generally, we recommend you let a professional deal with any plumbing issues to avoid potential injury or further damage. Here are the steps a plumber will take:

  • First, they will locate the Allen screw on the bottom of the garbage disposal unit. It will either be prominently displayed in the center underside or covered by a small plastic cover that can pry off with a flathead screwdriver.
  • Next, the plumber will cut off power to the disposal at your home’s circuit breaker. This ensures the unit will not turn on unexpectedly during the process.
  • Then, the plumber will insert the right-sized Allen wrench into the screw and turn it back and forth a few times. This allows the plumber to manually rotate the shredder ring inside the disposal to dislodge anything stuck.
  • After that, the plumber will remove the Allen wrench and restore power to your garbage disposal. They will run cold water into the sink and turn on the disposal to flush away any freed debris. The disposal should now be able to spin properly.
  • Next, the plumber will test it by putting a few small scraps of food waste down the drain while running water and turning on the disposal. The normal grinding noise will signal it’s fixed.
  • Finally, if the jam still persists, the plumber will unplug the disposal and visually inspect the interior using a flashlight. If they can, they will remove any visible debris before trying the Allen wrench reset again.

While an Allen wrench trick can dislodge minor jams, persistent issues, strange noises, or leaks likely indicate bigger problems needing professional repair service. Rest assured, A1 Sewer & Drain has the tools for the job, no matter what’s causing a faulty garbage disposal.

Why Address Plumbing Issues Now?

Look, it’s no secret that dealing with plumbing problems is a pain. We’ve been repairing those problems since 1987,so we get it. That gross smell coming from the garbage disposal or the leaky pipe ruining your floors isn’t something you want to spend your weekends worrying about.

It’s tempting to try a DIY fix or hope the issue disappears on its own. But take it from us: plumbing problems rarely fix themselves. That slow drip today can turn into a gushing flood tomorrow. The mild odor in your garbage disposal builds and builds until your whole house smells like rotten eggs.

Ignoring issues or covering them up with a band-aid repair might provide some temporary relief. But plumbing problems pretty much always get worse over time if left alone. And the repairs get way more complicated and expensive down the road.

Like when a simple clogged drain that could’ve been cleared with a plunger turns into a complete pipe reconstruction job. Or when a leaky water heater you put off replacing eventually fails and floods the basement.

The bottom line is, acting fast to properly address plumbing problems saves you a giant headache later. Don’t wait until it turns into an emergency.

Contact A1 Sewer & Drain for Proper Garbage Disposal Repair and Odor Elimination

Don’t put up with unpleasant garbage disposal odors in your home. A1 Sewer & Drain offers reliable inspection, professional repairs, installation services, and maintenance to fix bad smells at the source. 

For nearly four decades, our team has been using state-of-the-art repair methods to diagnose plumbing issues and customize solutions for any situation.We stand behind our workmanship, product, and customer service. Contact us today to schedule service in your home and say goodbye to bad disposal smells for good.


Black slimy buildup is usually from mold and food waste. Follow disposal cleaning steps above and call a plumber if it persists.

Humming noises usually indicate an issue with the flywheel or motor that requires repair service.

No, bleach and other harsh chemicals can damage the components. Stick to baking soda, vinegar, and citrus products.

Publish Date:

Last Modified Date:

Virginia Service area map.

Our Locations


309 Quarles Rd Suite B
Ashland, VA 23005

Hampton Roads

516 S. Military Hwy
Virginia Beach, VA 23464