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Can You Pour Bleach Down A Garbage Disposal?

Cleaning your garbage disposal can be an essential part of its maintenance. But Can you use bleach to clean a garbage disposal?

You can pour bleach into a garbage disposal as long as the bleach is mild. Strong bleach can cause damage to the garbage disposal; therefore, it should be used only once in a while; it shouldn’t be part of your regular garbage disposal cleaning routine.

pouring bleach into a garbage disposal

If you want to know more about cleaning your garbage disposal with bleach, continue reading;

How to pour bleach down a garbage disposal

Bleach and cleaners containing bleach are some of the first options when you are looking for cleaning bacteria and eliminating bad odor. But if you don’t use the bleach correctly, it can damage your pipes and the garbage disposal more than help it. 

Choose the right type of bleach 

First of all, you will want to use a type of bleach that will not be so detrimental to your garbage disposal. Choose a chlorine-based cleaner that is mild and made for cleaning different surfaces. You want to consider eco-friendly bleaches if you have a septic tank or if you want a weaker chemical that still helps you eliminate bacteria.

Even if you go for a milder bleach, you will still need to use very little of it. Depending on the size and the amount of debris, and the intensity of odor of your garbage disposal, you might be able to use only one tablespoon or two tablespoons of bleach when you clean it. 

Dilute the bleach with water 

If you can’t find good, mild bleach and use regular bleach, you want to dilute it with water. Mix one or two tablespoons of bleach with a gallon of water and pour it down the garbage disposal. You can let the cold water run as you do that as well. Keep in mind that cold water is much better for your pipes than warm or hot water. You should notice the unpleasant smell disappearing in a matter of minutes by following this method. 

If you need to use a larger quantity of this mix, make sure to increase both the bleach and the water amounts by following the same ratio. You want to use as little bleach as possible to keep your garbage disposal running smoothly and get rid of the bacteria and its odor. 

Mix bleach with lemon slices and baking soda

Before you get to the bleach, you will need to add six to seven ice cubes in the chamber of your garbage disposal. Make sure to turn the faucet and disposal off before you start pouring the bleach mix. 

Add three to four lemon slices, one tablespoon of baking soda, and one teaspoon of bleach into the chamber. It is important not to add more bleach than one teaspoon, even if it is a milder type of bleach. Finish your preparation by adding six more ice cubes on top of the bleach mix. 

Once you packed the chamber of your garbage disposal correctly, you can turn ON the device but don’t run the water until the grinding stops.

The last thing you have to do is let cold water run for 30 seconds to one minute while the motor is still running as well. Do not let warm or hot water run until the entire process is finished so you avoid potential damage to the pipes and the disposal. 

What are the risks of using too much bleach down your garbage disposal

Before you use bleach down your garbage disposal or any other pipes, keep in mind that this is a highly toxic chemical that will react with other chemicals and substances it might encounter. 

  • If you pour plain bleach down the drain, you risk creating fumes as the bleach gets mixed with other residues inside the garbage disposal. These fumes could lead to blockage and even damage your disposal. Also, the fumes bleach could create are toxic and you shouldn’t inhale them. 
  • Another risk you take is damaging different parts of your garbage disposal, even without other substances involved. Strong bleach that is not diluted with water can actually damage the blades and the pipes. 
  • Bleach has the ability to harden the layer of grease. So, it is recommended to only use it once you remove most part of the grease in your garbage disposal with a specific type of cleaner intended for this purpose. 
  • A last but not least red flag that you need to consider is that bleach shouldn’t be used on septic tanks. Bleach in a septic tank can be detrimental to the environment. However, there are types of bleaches on the market that are made to be eco-friendly and those can still be used even if you have a septic tank. Your septic tank needs some bacteria to break down the waste in a way that is not affecting your health or the environment and the system you use. But a strong bleach will kill most of the bacteria if not all of it, which works against the needs of a septic tank system. If you use bleach on such a system you will have to add good bacteria to your tank constantly in order to help it regain its functions and work for you at eliminating the waste efficiently. 

Final thoughts 

As there is a wide debate among specialists when it comes to whether or not you should use bleach down your garbage disposal, this guide should help you make the most of such a strong chemical with minimum risks. Bleach is not the type of substance to overuse in your house unless you follow such guidelines. We also recommend wearing gloves every time you work with bleach, regardless of the type that you are using, as it can cause skin irritations and other conditions.

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My name is Thomas Anderson, author of DisposalQA. I have 15 years experience working as a plumber in CA, and this is where I answer common questions about garbage disposals.