How to Clean A Smelly Drain

It’s easy to wipe down counters, wash sinks, and clean faucets, but what about the drain? Over time, the drain can develop foul odors that are difficult to ignore.

Causes of Smelly Drains

The P-trap is the curved portion of plumbing pipes under a sink that is designed to hold water that creates a seal between sink drain and the gasses coming from the sewage lines. If the trap is dry, these gasses will travel up the sink.

A clogged or blocked air vent can also allow gasses to escape into the home. If a sink pipe or garbage disposal is clogged, it will emit foul waste odors.

If drains aren’t cleaned properly and regularly, bacteria can build up in the drains and feed on debris, creating a hydrogen sulfide gas that reeks of rotten eggs.

Because drains are warm, wet, dark, and filled with food particles, they are fertile ground for mold colonies that may produce foul odors. 

On the other hand, a clogged aerator, which is the small screen that catches debris from the water source, can also cause bad smells.

Steps For Cleaning A Smelly Drain

Take a few minutes to identify the cause of the smelly drain and go through the following steps to clean the drain.

Before you begin, make sure you have the following items on hand:

  • Rubber gloves
  • Measuring cup
  • Old toothbrush
  • Sponge
  • Pot or microwaveable bowl
  • Distilled vinegar
  • Baking soda

Combine one cup of distilled white vinegar and one cup of boiling water in a large measuring cup or bowl. Pour half a cup of baking soda down the drain followed by the vinegar and hot water mixture. Wait 10 minutes for the mixture to clean the drain and pour two cups of boiling water down the drain to remove the debris and fill the P-trap with clean water.

If the odor is coming from a garbage disposal unit, turn off power to the disposal and use a wet sponge and baking soda to clean the rubber baffle near the sink drain opening. Then, repeat the previous cleaning process to clean the garbage disposal.

To clean the faucet or showerhead aerator, unscrew the end of the faucet and use an old toothbrush with some baking soda to remove debris. Let the devices soak for 30 minutes before rinsing.