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Plumbing expert explains dangerous consequence behind a new TikTok cleaning trend: 'The gunk has nowhere else to go'

While this method does work, there's a big thing TikTokers are getting wrong.

Paul Abrams, Sink cleaning hack

Photo Credit: @dm3lt/ TikTok

Garbage disposals are a wonder for getting rid of food waste, but cleaning them can be confusing — especially when they emit a funny smell.

According to a new TikTok trend, you can clean your sink with nothing more than ice and hot water, although one cleaning expert has said that, while this method does work, there's a big thing TikTokers are getting wrong. 


I swear I didn't think anything from TikTok would ever actually work

♬ original sound - Desiree

The scoop

In one viral TikTok video, user Desiree (@dm3lt) crams several cubes of ice down her sink before switching on the garbage disposal. When she runs the hot tap, brown water starts to bubble up from the drain, showing that the dirt inside has been dislodged. 

The ice helps to knock off any food scraps that have gotten stuck in the disposal, which can contribute to bad odors. 

But according to Paul Abrams, a spokesperson for Roto-Rooter Services, the sight of brown water in the video means that the TikToker could be overstuffing her sink.

"There's nothing wrong with this approach, it comes down to personal preference, but the ice cramming method only serves to fill the disposal to capacity," Abrams told Apartment Therapy. "Some of the gunk has nowhere else to go but up and out of the drain when the user turns on the hot water, further filling the disposal and drain beyond capacity."

According to Abrams, using less ice will still do the job of dislodging any stuck junk while making sure that the water flows down the sink, not back up.

How it's helping

The ice cube hack is giving households a simple way to clean their garbage disposal without resorting to cleaning chemicals, which could corrode the pipes over time.

If the wastewater in your municipality is set up to divert food waste and turn it into energy, then using a garbage disposal could be considered sustainable, Steve Dege, a representative for the recycling company TerraCycle, told the Associated Press.

This is increasingly the case in large American cities, with around half of wastewater treatment plants in the U.S. now converting sewage sludge into biogas.

Reducing the amount of food waste that ends up in landfill is vital to reducing harmful pollution. Food waste emits methane into the atmosphere, which has 80 times the warming power that carbon dioxide does over the first 20 years.

But some critics of garbage disposals have pointed out that, while it may help to reduce methane emissions, it also releases nitrogen into the environment, which can be harmful to marine wildlife and plants.

What everyone's saying

Other TikTok users have commented on the video with their own tips for cleaning their garbage disposal. 

"We use citrus slices! Lemons/limes/oranges. It makes it smell really nice, too!" one user wrote.

"I do this! But I also drizzle soap over the top of the ice!" replied another. 

"I just tried, and it worked great. I added baking soda to the ice and vinegar to the hot water, and that helped it too," one Tiktoker added.

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