How to Clean a Smelly Drain

How to Clean a Smelly Drain

Do you ever detect an unidentified odour when you walk into the kitchen or bathroom? You may wonder to yourself, “Did the dog have an accident?” or “Is it the trash?”. The answer to those questions is no; it’s neither of these issues.

Finally, you realize that the sink is the malodorous offender. You may run the disposal and turn on the faucet, but the smell does not subside. You know that you are dealing with a smelly drain by this point.

Smelly drains can be a real pain in the butt and unsanitary for your family In this context, it is very important to clean the drain.

Fortunately, commercial cleaning, preventative measures, and a little investigating can freshen up the drain for good and eliminate the odour.

What Causes a Smelly Drain?

Various things can go wrong inside household pipes, so sinks are notorious for developing unpleasant odours. There are a few common causes of smelly drains, and these include but are not limited to:

Vent clogged pipes: Water can start to pool in the sink when debris clogs drain vents. The sluggish water movement causes stale odours. 

Bacteria and gunk build-up: Soap particles, grease, hair, food, and other gunk can coat the inside of your pipes. Even if the pipes don’t clog, the dirty residue attracts bacteria, releasing smelly odours.

Plumbing errors: Rotting drain tubes, leaks, missing vents, or traps can be the primary causes of stinky smells from the kitchen sink or bathroom.

Sewer gasses: Drains that receive infrequent use suffer from empty P-traps; this results in sewer gases rising through the drain. 

Rotten foods: Rotten food builds up in your drain over time and is different from strong-smelling foods. This problem occurs when you put any grease down your drain, and it attracts food, which then starts the decaying process. Foul odours are produced by these decaying items trapped in your drain. 

Smelly Drain Cleaning Supplies

Below we have listed all the supplies you need when cleaning your smelly drain. 

  • Ladder
  • Hose
  • Bucket
  • Wrench
  • Rubber gloves
  • Baking soda
  • White Vinegar
  • Near boiling water

You can now begin the cleaning process with the items listed above and remove that stinky smell. With a little bit of elbow grease and the know-how shared below, you leave your drain smelling fresh and clean.

How to Fix a Stinky Drain

Luckily, foul odours from the sink drain can be eliminated in various ways. Some combined methods work best and are recommended by many people to resolve this issue. First, start with the most basic options and move towards the more complicated ones if the latter doesn’t work effectively. 

The Hot Liquid Method

Before pouring half a pot of it down the drain, make sure to bring a pot of white vinegar or water to a boil. If you don’t have white vinegar, water will do perfectly fine. 

Give it a few minutes to work its magic, and then rise the pipes with cold water to solidify any lingering residue. Once the previous step is complete, pour the remaining vinegar or water down the drain to wash the left-over gunk away. 

The Vinegar and Baking Soda Method

Run the hot water tap at full blasted for one minute and then switch the water off. Start by dumping one and a half cups of baking soda down the drain, and then pour two cups of boiling vinegar into it. 

The concoction will fizz while removing the stubborn gunk causing those unpleasant odours. Flush the drain with the hot water tap once one hour has passed. 

Making Sure the P-trap Is Clean 

Before removing the curved portion of the drainpipe beneath your sink, make sure to put on rubber gloves. Empty any gunk or water from the trap into a container and then rinse the P-trap outside with a garden hose to remove stubborn grime. Before using the sink again, please remember to reassemble the plumbing. 

Clean the Drain Vent

In most properties, all drain vents lead to a single opening in the ceiling. You can use a ladder to climb on the roof and clear away any debris or leaves that may be clogging the vent. You may not believe it, but this obstruction is one of the most common causes of a smelly drain.

How to Fix Smelly Drains for Good 

  • Every time you dispose of food, ensure that you run the disposal and turn the faucet on for 30 seconds
  • Once a week, pour a few litres of near-boiling water down the drain
  • In order to keep the P-trap full in a rarely used sink, make run water through it occasionally
  • Adding mineral oil too infrequently used sinks can also help slow water evaporation

Smelly Garbage Disposal Solutions

It’s common for smells to emanate from the garbage disposal and not the pipes in the kitchen. Try this stink garbage disposal solution if you believe your trash disposal is causing an unsavoury smell. 

First, take a few small lemon wedges (keep in mind that other citrus fruits will work, too) and insert them into the garbage disposal. Next, turn the disposal on and run hot water to help freshen up the smell. 

Ensure that all the citrus has been flushed away by keeping the disposal on until the process is complete; it may take anywhere from 2 to 5 minutes.

With the help of the garbage disposal blades, acid from the citrus removes gunk or odour. If you want to keep your garbage disposal smelling fresh, this natural cleaning process can be repeated as many times as necessary. 

Why Does My Dishwasher Smell?

Dishwashers can be smelly because you are not rinsing your dishes properly before loading them. Over time your dishwasher’s crevices and filter can collect food particles, which lead to unpleasant odours. 

It’s essential to clean your dishwasher regularly to avoid smelly drains or dishwashers. Before going into the dishwasher, it is vital to scrape and rinse silverware bowls, plates, and other items. 


We hope this guide has been insightful and informative. With the guidelines set out for you, you can now go forth and get rid of that smelly drain once and for all!

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About the Author

Hi, you can call me Steve. I have been with Clean Group for almost four years now and work as a Regional Operations Manager in Sydney. I manage a team of 10 and am responsible for the day-to-day management of cleaning operations, planning, online assessment for clients, overseeing operations, collecting clients' feedback and ensuring proper & regular maintenance of cleaning equipment. Having more than 30 years of experience in the commercial cleaning industry, I am familiar with my clients’ needs and always able to meet their expectations. Do reach me for a quick chat about your cleaning needs.

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