Are Laundry Beads Really The Secret To A Fresh-Smelling Garbage Disposal?

Some claims have appeared on the internet suggesting that scented laundry beads are good for eliminating odors in your garbage disposal. But laundry beads can clog the drain lines of washing machines – the appliances they are actually designed to be used with. These beads also contain toxic chemicals. So, it is not a good idea to use scented laundry beads in your garbage disposal, and you may want to explore other options. 

Laundry beads are a laundry additive designed to dissolve in the washing machine and leave your laundry with a perfumed scent. Oddly enough, suggestions are circulating for several alternative uses of these products, including rather dubious ones like adding them to boxes of baby wipes. Adding dissolvable scented detergents to baby wipes and then using them on actual babies is not advisable, as perfumes may irritate their skin. The downsides to using laundry beads in the garbage disposal have to do with their dissolving ability, as well as their perfumed ingredients. 

Laundry beads don't always dissolve fully, as they are intended, and this sometimes causes them to build up and block drainage, causing clogs and often necessitating a visit from a plumber. This same scenario could easily occur in your garbage disposal, causing a clog that is inconvenient and potentially expensive to fix.

Why perfumes should not be put in your garbage disposal

In addition to their tendency to not dissolve completely, scented laundry beads can also wreak havoc on your plumbing with their fragrance components and other ingredients. You should not discard perfumes down the kitchen drain because of potentially hazardous substances (like petrochemicals or alcohol) leaching into the groundwater system. Dispose of expired or unwanted perfumes and other scented toiletries as you would dispose of other hazardous waste, such as paint thinner or used motor oil.

Some popular brands of scented laundry beads, such as Downy Unstoppables, contain toxic and environmentally harmful ingredients. Putting these products into your sink or garbage disposal (as well as in your toilet or washing machine) could ultimately cause contamination of local groundwater or ecosystems, depending on the wastewater disposal systems and sewage infrastructure in your area. 

There are many non-toxic methods, many of them using inexpensive household ingredients for cleaning your garbage disposal and keeping it smelling fresh without using harmful chemical products like laundry beads that could clog drains or leach chemicals. Keeping these toxins in your home also presents a poison risk to people and pets. Laundry beads are particularly dangerous due to their small size, making them easy to ingest, and the bright candy-like colors might make them more tempting to children.

Non-toxic options for freshening your garbage disposal

If you have ever had to have your garbage disposal repaired, you know it can be a complicated and expensive fix. So it's in your best interest to maintain it well to keep it running smoothly. Pouring scented laundry bead products down your garbage disposal might cause clogs due to undissolved beads, and the oily substances — that fragrance ingredients sometimes contain — could cause the inner workings of your garbage disposal to malfunction. 

If you have a septic system, you should not use products containing toxic chemicals near your sinks or drains, as these can then leach directly into the groundwater on or near your property. The fragrance ingredients in laundry additives, such as softeners or scented laundry beads, may also contain toxic substances, such as phthalates, which are known hormone disruptors. 

Three simple steps to cleaning your garbage disposal involve baking soda, white vinegar, and boiling water. The baking soda and vinegar absorb odors and, used together, create a chemical reaction that safely and effectively cleans and deodorizes your garbage disposal drain. You can also use lemon juice instead of vinegar. Pouring boiling water down the drain afterward leaves it clean and smelling fresh. This method requires no special products and is a non-toxic solution to using scented products that might harm your plumbing or contaminate groundwater.